About the author
Head of Android Development Department at ScienceSoft. Andrei has over 10 years of experience in programming and designing mobile and web-based solutions. His track record as a project manager includes mobile development for Viber, a VoIP app with 600 mln users worldwide, and Bellator, America’s leading Mixed Martial Arts organization, as well as delivering of the award-winning banking solution for a European bank.
In 2013, the number of mobile users officially surpassed that of desktop users. Mobile application development companies have been noticeably on the increase ever since, trying to please the constantly expanding auditory of mobile app users. But, according to the recent Vision Mobile survey, only 8% of all global software developers offer professional enterprise mobile app development services. In contrast to the growing demand for enterprise application development, such a small supply gives solid grounds for establishing a long-term vendor agreement.
The phrase “having a development vendor” sounds neat and probably gives you the impression that you are going to work with a stable, reliable machine that will never fail or let you down. But the truth behind is obvious: you work with people. And with them come unexpected circumstances and challenging situations.
In this article, ScienceSoft will first answer the questions you’re most likely to ask while having hard times with your app development company and then will give you practical recommendations for the process of substituting a vendor.
What problems can a vendor cause?
Plenty and various. Regular failures to meet the deadline, heavy and repeated budget limit excesses, sudden escalation of prices or general underperformance – these are the major alarming signs that will make you think about substituting your vendor with a new one.
But always start with making sure that everything is done correctly from your end. Studies show that 63% of delays and 70% of diminished product quality cases are caused by vague requirements and poor vendor management.
Problems with a vendor
Is replacing the unwanted vendor a pressing matter?
Even if you notice your vendor’s unbecoming behavior and bear no responsibility for it, you shouldn’t rush to end your vendor agreement. Additionally, an immediate vendor replacement is a bad idea when you have a tight delivery schedule. But once you feel unsatisfied with your current mobile app company’s work – you shouldn’t stand still.
What is rational to do at once is searching for a second vendor. Later, you may leave the first vendor behind or you may not. You have no obligation to limit yourself to only one vendor, after all, and can surprisingly discover many benefits of having multiple vendors.
However, if your application development company has been slouching around for months and has already caused significant problems, you have to cut all ties with it in the nearest future.
How will a vendor react to a split announcement?
You never can predict an exact response from your vendor, and that’s why you should prepare for any reaction. Best case scenario – the company will concede and offer you a cheaper and better service. Be ready with your answer and know if you’re ready to give them a second chance.
Alternatively, your vendor may accept the news in a phlegmatic manner and calmly agree. As a result, they will most probably lose motivation in finishing your current projects, so if you have already had problems with delays and/or low quality at their side – expect even more of them.
Worst case scenario – the company will use black hat methods to preserve the agreement. They will try to keep you dependent by all means, speculating on the need to maintain your projects or your yet unfinished applications as a reason for you to stay with them. In this case, you may have no other options but to sacrifice one or two of your projects to break free from this vendor for the sake of your future projects.
Since we have covered most of the thorny issues regarding vendors’ behavior, let’s now proceed with a guide on how to properly replace a vendor. Being a company that focuses on enterprise mobile application development ScienceSoft knows the details of mobile enterprise development processes and project management and is ready to provide you with accurate and feasible directions.
Checklist for your side
While replacing a vendor, you must be careful with every single part of the collaborative work performed so far. Look through the following list to make sure you are the proprietor of the applications that your vendor has delivered to you.
- You must have the source code for all your mobile applications.
- You must have frameworks, libraries, build scripts, unit tests, automated tests, UI in vector format and everything else that is essential for the recreation of any app from the source code.
- The same goes for requirement specifications, change request descriptions, test plans, test cases, bug descriptions and further documentation.
- The mobile back-end has to be under your control. And don’t forget about owning the database design scheme.
Apart from verifying the presence of the above-mentioned points, be sure you have the latest versions of all files. And just to be on the safe side – keep them on the storage that only your company has access to.
Checklist for your vendor
When you’re done with the four ticks in the previous section, it’s the right time to demand the following from your vendor:
- Successful completion of the development projects in progress.
- Separation of build and testing processes from their infrastructure.
- Transfer of knowledge to your new vendor: it will help you both make a quicker start.
Sometimes, you can kill two birds with one stone and, while replacing your current vendor, switch over to development on a new platform. All you have to do is to find a mobile development company that specializes in a platform different from the one you’ve previously been working on and that you consider more promising. You can, for instance, move from native on to cross-platform development with Xamarin – or, vice versa, focus on iOS, Android or Windows applications instead of the BYOD-friendly cross-platform ones.
But in this case, a challenge emerges, since you will need to maintain previously developed native applications. And you should think in advance whom you expect to be responsible for it.
Your first option is to ask the existing vendor to provide support for the projects they delivered in the past. But be sure they meet the maintenance-only option with enough interest. Otherwise, you may end up with delay and quality problems – even if initially they were not the reason for your split.
A more favorable alternative is to hand the responsibility over to the new vendor. Obviously, you should clarify it beforehand whether they are able to maintain the legacy platform you have been working with. And if they are, you have good chances for receiving quality services. The new mobile app development company will be motivated to work since your collaboration has just begun and they are willing to make a good start.
Keep it up
Replacing a vendor is a tough process and involves a lot of communication and technical procedures. But we encourage you to be persistent, act reasonable and keep your eyes wide open. Eventually, you will move on and turn a new page for an effective vendor management.