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Consider this essential question: How much do enterprise mobile app development services cost?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer. The cost of enterprise mobile application development can vary by hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the difference being what your organization needs and how it’s developed. Functionality impacts mobile app development costs, so something simple will be significantly cheaper than an enterprise mobile app.

But is that all? Let’s take a look at what goes into mobile app development so that you get the most out of your budget.

What goes into enterprise mobile app development costs?

Because of the expertise required and the utility of the end product, mobile app development isn’t exactly cheap. That said, apps typically cost between $250,000 to $1,000,000 to build, usually falling somewhere in between.

There’s no magic formula or menu for pricing. Different factors impact enterprise mobile app development costs. What should the app do? What devices should it be compatible with? Some factors are more obvious than others.

Mobile app functions, features, and platforms

We’ll start with the obvious first. Functions, features, and compatible platforms factor into mobile app development costs, regardless of whether you’re outsourcing or building the mobile app in-house.

Complexity packs a punch. How complex will your enterprise mobile app be? Think of how difficult the work is and how long it will take.

  • Example: A book app will be less complex to develop than a logistics tracking application.

And what about third-party services? Will you have to integrate features such as SMS messages or push notifications? If so, you may also need to integrate with backend systems, making the process more time-consuming and complicated.

Don’t forget about the multitude of platforms and devices users rely on that you want your app to be compatible with. Ask yourself how many platforms and devices you want your mobile app to work with, as it will impact customer reach.

  • Example: It’s less expensive to develop exclusively for iOS, but what about your Android customers?

There are countless iPhone models and Android devices. So within your chosen platforms, define devices and supported models, including whether the mobile app will have backward compatibility between phones and tablets.

  • Example: How many versions of iPhones should the app support?

All of these factors impact the complexity of your enterprise mobile application, affecting development costs. Occasionally, apps will be lighter and easier to build. But for most enterprise organizations, mobile app development is complex. Think about your banking app or healthcare app. A little feature-rich, right? Apps like these need solid planning to reach the finish line.

Project management methodology

Project timeline and method are both major factors that influence the cost of app development. They often fall into one of two buckets: agile or waterfall.

First up: The waterfall method, which is older and more restrictive. With this method, your product team creates an inclusive plan detailing the ups and downs they may encounter before the prototype. Then, they build.

Accounting for every possibility has its perks, but there are downsides, too:

  • Research can take months or years.
  • Results lock in a design before it even kicks off.
  • Adjustments have to wait until the next version.

The extensive timeline and preplanning here mean substantial upfront costs. Plus, you’re betting on smooth sailing for the project, but development is rarely simple. So if something changes or breaks that no one accounted for, it will require even more time and money to fix.

Thankfully, if the waterfall method (and its unforgiving structure) doesn’t quite meet your needs, there’s a second option. It’s the agile method, which is generally more popular with software development teams. Agile development is a team-based approach that focuses on rapidly deploying functions during timed sprints.

Using the agile development method has a few benefits:

  • Features are validated quickly.
  • Prototypes can wait until the next sprint.
  • Updates don’t have to wait for the next software version.

Waterfall or agile? Determining your priorities and desired flexibility will go a long way toward choosing the right development method.

In-house vs. outsourced mobile app development

Which would you rather do: Build your own app or hire experts? Neither is “cheap,” nor is there a right answer. Enterprise mobile app development isn’t easy, and it takes skill, expertise, and teamwork.

The costs of in-house mobile app development

If in-house development is ideal for your project, remember the associated costs. You’ll need to hire and spend to set yourself up for success.

When organizations aren’t strictly app developers, they usually need to create an in-house agency because they don’t have expert development teams ready and waiting. At a minimum, you’ll need a:

  • UX designer
  • Android developer
  • iOS developer
  • Backend developer
  • Quality assurance (QA) engineer
  • Mobile development project manager

However, if you aren’t an expert in enterprise mobile app development, it can be difficult to hire a team. The cost of hiring—and keeping—six more employees adds up. Consider how much it will cost to keep these experts once the app is built. When you give birth to an enterprise mobile app, you maintain it for life.

A middle-ground option? Start with outsourcing, then transition to in-house development. Learn how to recruit top talent.

When in-house mobile app development is the only option

Costs aside, developing an enterprise mobile app in-house is the only choice for some businesses. Here are some crucial reasons why a business might choose in-house development:

  • They have aggressive goals that an outside agency can’t meet.
  • They have a culture best suited for in-house development.
  • They already have a team of mobile app experts.

Occasionally, in-house development wins out. But for most enterprise businesses, looking for outside talent fits the bill. For them, outsourcing isn’t just the most cost-effective approach—it’s the smartest approach.

Outsourcing now prepares you for a successful future

When you find the right partner to outsource your app development, they become part of your team. Sure, it’s called “outsourcing,” but these are passionate experts.

But isn’t that expensive? The cost may seem high compared to an internal team, but an experienced development partner will build a clean, well-written codebase, provide thorough design and development documentation, and work against universal standards. Bringing in experts offers fresh perspectives and new approaches, setting you up to successfully transition to in-house development later.

So, in-house or outsourced? Whichever you choose, make an educated choice. This guide should help you get there. For more tips, check out our new podcast/blog post in which we take a deep dive into misconceptions about developing an enterprise mobile app.