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So you want to contract out your mobile app development.

And you don’t think your CTO is going to like it.

How do you convince him it’s the right thing to do?

It’s a dilemma many CEOs face while evaluating the contract developer option. And whether it’s true or not, the perception that your CTO won’t want to contract out those projects is fairly common. Why?

Because in general, most CTOs:

  • Don’t trust outsiders to do things right.
  • Believe their own teams could do it better.
  • Would rather work on shiny new tech projects like mobile applications
  • Would rather “reward” their own people with the shiny new tech projects.

Again, these are just generalizations and not all CTOs are going to approach it like that. But let’s face it, mobile application development is the “shiny new object” for many companies. Convincing your CTO to contract those projects out might not be the easiest of tasks.

Which is why I thought you might like some advice on how to navigate that challenging conversation. Because in the end, the ultimate goal is for you and your CTO to reach a consensus and move forward in close alignment.

Over my years in industry, I’ve seen plenty of wrong ways to go about it. Here are a few of the “right ways” that lead to better results.

Ask For Your CTO’s Opinion

Before telling her you want to contract out, open up the discussion. Talk about the mobile application projects you’re planning. Ask her opinions on how it would affect her team’s workload. How would it impact staffing and does she have the right expertise in-house?

Most CTOs will be optimistic about their team’s ability to “handle it.” So put it all in perspective. Her teams should already be fully engaged, so ask her what they would need to drop in order to get started on mobile development right away. How much training would they need? How much time would it take?

If need be, ask her to create a time and cost comparison between hiring a contract development team and repurposing her existing staff to complete the mobile projects. This will give you much more insight into her assumptions and reasonings, which in turn will help you continue the conversation more effectively.

Focus on the Higher Priorities

Yes, mobile application development may seem like the shiny new technology. And yes, it’s important – even vital – to get your applications mobile.

You need to have that mobile application, but it probably isn’t the peak of your corporate strategy. So a good way to approach your CTO is to discuss your company’s vision. How does technology fit into that vision and what are some of the ways you’d like to see it used?

In short, bring up the more important projects he could be working on – the ones advancing the company vision. Focus your discussion on how contracting out for the mobile development piece of the puzzle could free up his resources and staff for bigger and better things. What are some of those projects that could help your company leap forward, or gain a strategic advantage?

Get your CTO excited about those projects, and you’ll have far less resistance over contracting out your mobile apps.

The Need For Speed

There’s an old “You Want It When?” cartoon that many CTOs can relate to. The fact is, businesses always want their new technology now, and are seldom happy about the wait.

But your CTO knows how long it will take to get that mobile development going. The staffing and organizational changes needed, the training required. The meetings.

And then there’s the learning curve, anticipating lower production while teams are repurposed and redeployed. And if you’re not using Agile development methods already, tack on another delay for suitable training there as well.

In my experience, it takes a team about six months to get comfortable with mobile development, and another six months before they’re working efficiently.

Can your company afford the wait? And is it worth the delay to get there without contracting?

Never suggest your CTO’s team can’t do it … discuss instead how long it would take to get them there, and whether that’s where he wants his organization to be in the long run.

Observe and Assess

One advantage of working with a contract development team is that they can provide an example of how to build mobile applications – without having to make all those organizational and staffing changes yourself.

If you’re not already an Agile development shop, you can see how it works and decide how to best implement it in the future.

Sell your CTO on the vision of bringing in a contract team to get those first mobile apps and features out the door quickly, and learn everything you can from the process. Discover best practices as well as things you want to avoid.

If she decides to move her organization into mobile development in the future, she can do so with the advantage of better information and experience. And with a reliable contract development team in play, she can do so gradually, with less organizational upheaval.

Gain New Perspectives

Another way to get your CTO comfortable with the idea of contracting mobile development is to find the right team (read 7 Interview Questions to Hire a Great Mobile App Developer for tips on how to identify one) and bring them in to talk strategy.

That way you can see exactly how they would approach your mobile application project. And that will either give your CTO the comfort level he needs to commit to contract development – or not. Either way, you’ll learn valuable information on how to set up your own organization for mobile.

At Ascendle, we start every engagement with a four-week strategic phase… before we provide final estimates for any development. This allows us to get to know our clients – and our clients to know us. It makes our proposals more realistic and better attuned to our clients’ needs. And it shows we can work with them before starting anything as important as a mobile application development project.

This type of strategy session is invaluable to your CTO … whether or not you decide to pursue contract development in the long run.

Reaching a Consensus

As I stated before, the most important aspect of your decision is that you and your CTO reach a consensus. Making an executive decision without first gaining your CTO’s input or agreement is a recipe for disaster.

This is not to say that contracting out mobile development projects is the right solution for everyone.

The ideas here are simply to overcome the “natural” resistance many CTOs feel toward outside involvement.

Once you’ve considered all these viewpoints and their consequences, you and your CTO should be in a much better position to make a decision on contracting out your mobile development together.

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