Agency · Android IOS outsourcing

What are the important legal/procedural things you should have in place with outsource dev agency?

Lewis Hanson Non-technical founder looking for technical co-founder/CTO.

March 13th, 2020

I am currently looking to to outsource initial MVP development of my mobile application.

I understand it would be best practice to have an NDA in place as well as a contract to outline, timeline, cost and specifics of the development.

Is anybody able to shed any further light on what the typical/best practice legal/procedural documents should be when working with an outsource development agency and do these differ between onshore and offshore?

Dario Lillo Software Engineer

March 29th, 2020

For the legal part, I would advice to hire a lawyer and discuss with him your needs.

For the development, instead, my advice is to create a very detailed document about your app. Give a clear answer to questions like:

- what do my app have to do?

- how should it interact with users?

- which are the key features that you need ASAP? (Remember that MVP is not the final product with all features)

Also consider the option to design a prototype of the user interface by yourself. There are so many tools that you can use for this purpose, even free products.

Once you have this document, try to hire a team that can work with agile methods. You will be able to check how developers are working and make corrections to your app before they go on with other features.

Hamidreza Darabi Lead Data Scientist Ready to Bring in Artificial Intelligence Ideas to Life

Last updated on April 1st, 2020

Hi Lewis,

I was developing applications for my (failed) startups and different companies and I hope if I can help you. Here are my two cents of advice:

  • Don't bother much with legal stuff because it's worthless in practice: if you are working with an off-shore team just forget about it, none of your NDA and other legal documents have any value if you can't enforce them in court. With onshore it's much more valuable, but still time consuming and costly to apply.
  • Reputation is the market force for agencies: the reputable agencies go above and beyond to keep that reputation. It's the market force that brings them new customers. They will be happy if you can give them good publicity and vice versa. Use this to your advantage.
  • Don't work with new agencies, without proper track record: obvious from the previous point.
  • You will miss requirements, be flexible (and generous) in your contract: I have been writing business requirements on and off for the last 10 years, and I still find I miss a few things here and there. If you try to capture everything in your contract and try to enforce it, when you need an extra work your agency will force you to go through a lengthy legal conversation that dries your soul for every minuscule change. Write a good requirements, build a good mock-up but be flexible.This leads to my next point.
  • You will pay extra money, pay that for premium service: if this is your first project, you will not have a good estimate of the actual cost and you will eventually pay more. Buy around from reputable agencies, but pay more on the agency reputation and service, rather than paying on legal disputes.
  • Have a clause for future changes: as I said, you will need some changes in your MVP. My usually method is to set a fixed amount for the original requirement and set an hourly rate for further changes.
  • Show goodwill and expect goodwill: if your agency are professional developer, they enjoy their work. They love their app to be the best. If you found people with that spirit trust them.
  • Get the source code! First failure of business type rookies. Learn what is git! Copy your code on computer and test the system during the development.
  • If your business strategy is to work with them long-term, tell it and use it for your advantage: don't lie to people but they will enjoy a long-term customer and they will make sure to keep you happy to stay around.

Hope this helps. If you found it helpful, I am building my audience on Quora. Please give it a try:

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

March 18th, 2020

Unfortunately this is something that is more than best practices. Depending on what you're working on and where your outsource dev is actually located, the answer may be different. The best advice is to call a contracts attorney who does work in both your and your developer's locale. They are the only ones who can provide actual legal advice and inform you on what conditions are likely to allow depending on what you need to protect. It's not a lay-person question.

Praveen Mishra Business Writer

Last updated on May 29th, 2020

Hey Lewis,

If you work with a reputed outsourcing company, NDA shouldn't be an issue. Established companies already have an NDA in place which is shared with a client before discussing the essentials of a project.

To add to what Dario has said, I recently covered a checklist of all the essential questions you need an answer too for your entire app development project.

We can help you with MVP development of your app. Would love to hear from you about this. Here's my LinkedIn.

Or you can just drop a "Hi" here as well. Looking forward!



Prakash Salve Programmer by heart, Robotics and Automation enthusiast

June 1st, 2020

There are couple of questions that you need to answer yourself;

  1. Are you ready to trust on someone - outsource development team - which is outside the country or even your demographic?
  2. Do you have detailed document about application functionality? And you divided the detail in small summary that should be shared with unknown person, initially.

One of the answer suggested hiring the attorney. In this case, you will be paying bigger parts of the available fund to create legal documents and won't have sufficient fund to invest in the application development.

Furthermore, people don't consider investing their time learning and getting through legal documents unless you are really spending millions in the development.

Now, I assume you are fearing about stealing your application idea and then turning it into business.

Again, you don't need to worry about it. People can steal your idea but they can't steal your energy and focus and efforts.

And anyway, you are trying to build MVP and that doesn't make business. Business is more than software application.