Building an App In-House or Leveraging an Agency

Whether you’re a startup, a company that’s been around for awhile, or just someone with a great app idea, you’ll have to choose to either develop it yourself, in-house or to outsource it to an agency.

There are pros and cons to be had on both sides, and the best answer may vary from case to case. Here are a few things to think about when making your decision.

Knowing the Brand

No one is going to know your brand as well as you do. You know exactly what you want your brand to mean to others. This can be a difficult thing to translate though.  It can take an agency a long time and a lot of meetings to see your vision as you do.

They may ask for compromises that you aren’t willing to concede, or they may not understand what the project means to you.

If you have the time to learn or if you have someone on your staff who understands your vision, you may want to choose in-house development.

The Learning Curve

If you decide to go in-house, you’ll have to decide who will be taking the plunge, as hiring someone would defeat the purpose. Whoever embraces the opportunity, should prepare to spend a good deal of time on research or maybe even courses in app development.

There are also plug and play app building platforms that you can use to get your app off the ground.  This approach will limit you the features that the platform provides.  But, it’s certainly a great option if you are looking for an app for marketing.

Even still, don’t expect their first few attempts to be polished. That’s something you don’t have to worry over when going with an agency. This is what they do. So, you can be sure that the finished product from an agency will look professional, and you can be sure that it will work correctly.  After all, it will be a reflection of your brand, so you need to make sure that it works.


You know what you want, and you could end up taking way too much time to get there.  If you’re the type to lose yourself for hours tweaking the minutiae of anything customizable, you may want to pass the app developing torch to someone else. However, if you know exactly what you want, then who better than you to do it?

Agencies will have a set number of revisions. Going above this limit will mean an increase in budget. Asking for change after change could also result in friction between you and the agency, especially if they feel you’re unreasonable.  You can revise until your heart’s content, but remember that the goal is to finish at some point.


How much does it cost to create an app? The figures vary wildly. There is such a wide array of apps out there that do so many different things. Some tools can help you calculate the cost online. Answer a few questions, and you’ll get an estimate.

Does your estimate fit within your budget? If so it’s a simple matter of running the numbers. Call around and get some quotes from different agencies and weigh them against the calculated cost of in-house development.

Can you do it cheaper? Can they do it better? These are the questions you have to ask yourself.


If you are looking for a complex app, it might be wise to find the right external solution.  But, if you are looking to grow your business by creating a strong mobile presence, it would be wise to consider an in-house app team.  There are resources everywhere that can get you started.

Ultimately, you are creating a tool to grow your brand.  You need to make sure it exceeds your customers’ expectations.  If you are positive a team of in-house employees can get your app off the ground and working correctly, it’s worth the risk.  But, if you are skeptical about putting your company’s reputation in the hands of your in-house team, it might be wise to seek out some professionals to do the job right

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.