Indiespring helps technology providers build great mobile applications, meaning we work with in-house development teams every day. In an age of flexible resourcing, talented freelancers and off/near-shore outsourcing it is easy to see independent agencies as an overpriced route to getting the job done.We believe that high up front fees, fixed deliverables, change requests, long term contracts that lock you in and constantly changing “personnel” working on your “account” just doesn’t work in the modern world of project delivery. We’ve changed that by building an agency that, from the ground up, is focused on collaboration, flexibility and shared wins. The Indiespring Way is our approach to working with an agency and it turns everything you know about third party collaboration on its head. The first thing might even be that you don’t need an agency like ours at all… We solve issues of competence; not capacity. The thinking is more important than doing. We provide “real” dedicated teams. A playback is not collaboration; it’s a presentation. Death of the almighty day rate and why joint ventures are our thing There’s more to an application than the application. We solve issues of competence; not capacity. If you know what you want delivered and you’ve simply got too much on we’re probably not for you. Use a group of awesome contractors or an offshoring firm. Are you just too busy to get everything done? You probably don’t need us. We know the feeling. Too many requirements; too many stakeholders; too much work for you to deliver. Unreasonable deadlines, unexpected requests and unknown requirements. A feeling that an extra pair of hands will give you the breathing space you need and let your team focus on the priorities. When you are maxed out the idea of offloading some of your workload is an appealing one and it offers a short-term solution to deliver work beyond the capacity of your in-house team. For some agencies, particularly off/near shore firms, the agency favours a client who knows exactly what they want. A clear specification, well laid out and with little uncertainty. A project with little risk which can be delivered on time and on budget. A win for everyone. That sort of project is a great fit for off/near shore firms who can deliver it at a hard-to-match price. If you know what you want but find yourself with a resourcing shortfall, whilst we sympathise, the truth is you don’t need us…it wouldn’t make sense. What you need is a reliable outsource partner who can take your specified requirements and deliver the results you need. If you have the required management processes and QA systems that could be a contractor, if not it’s an outsourcing firm but it wouldn’t be an agency like ours. The real value we bring to any partnership is filling a skills gap and allowing you to focus your team’s energy and attention on what it is good at. If your problem is a lack of experience in mobile application development and delivery then we can help. We have years of experience designing, delivering and maintaining mobile applications for our clients. We’ve brought our expertise to bear on many projects – we can show you how it’s done and teach you what we know. It is by filling the competence gap, not the capacity gap, that Indiespring are able to produce outstanding apps which deliver against clients’ key metrics rather than simply turning a design on paper into an app that does the job. Because we’re the experts in the room we’re not scared to challenge your thinking or to find more efficient ways to meet your end goal. That’s a win for everyone too. But in this case we’re taking ownership and responsibility for the way your app works, looks and feels. You know your market, but we know apps. The thinking is more important than doing. Indiespring believe the most important phase of any project is the discovery and design process. We need to take the lead here and have the time and ability to bring our best people to the problem. We’re here to help design the perfect solution to your problem… …so please start with the problem you want to solve not a solution you would like implemented. We have an established framework and process that lets us understand the problems unique to your circumstances, diagnose the problem and design the perfect solution that we know will deliver real value. It’s what lets us share the risk and reward in many of the projects we engage in. That process needs time, structure and support from us both to be successful. It is the most critical stage for the project’s success and we won’t put our name against a solution that hasn’t had the attention it requires. It’s for this reason we don’t respond to RFPs nor compete in formalised pitch processes. We work with clients who acknowledge they need us to take the lead in the early stages of the engagement so we can task our best people with diagnosing you problem. They’re relying on our expertise to design a compelling and effective solution. Designing and developing any digital product is tough but with mobile apps it is even more so; especially if your are not experienced in delivering this type of experience. Our specialist team have been designing and building mobile applications from the ground up for years and have likely faced most of the problems you’re getting stuck on. Getting the right experts, even if you have the capability of developing the solution yourself, is the right choice for your customers. You’re short changing yourself and side stepping years of experience if you don’t allow us to understand your requirements and challenges and put our best people on building and designing a solution that we know will work. We provide “real” dedicated teams. Our staff turnover rate is less than 1%. By treating our staff fairly we can build dedicated teams for our clients’ work which we guarantee. You know who you’re working with, you’ve worked with them for years and that knowledge doesn’t consistently walk out of the door. Let’s talk turnover… The most important question to ask any agency is their staff turnover rate. It tells you everything you need to know about how they treat their team and how much they value long term thinking for their clients. Why is that? The agency likes to band people into groups. You’re receiving 10 hours of “senior developer” time. Who is this mysterious senior developer? The truth is he could be anyone. A faceless commodity substituted in to deliver cookie cutter work for whichever project is scheduled for that day. The worker might not even be an employee of the agency. This not only undervalues the worker making it impossible to form relationships with your team but also contradicts the agency’s supposed focus on long-term partnership by suggesting that anyone can deliver any work required. Why has the agency model focused on job titles and not individuals? It’s simple; in most agencies a combination of commercial model and staff “churn” means that it is impossible to provide the same people to the same client on a consistent basis. Within the financial model of most agencies the new project is king because new projects are the lifeblood of the agency. The best staff are put on new projects, not long term engagements, because that’s the only way the agency can survive. By building an agency built upon long term partnerships, shared returns over time and other innovative pricing models we don’t have that problem. The other side of this problem is a lack of employee satisfaction. The average staff turnover in a digital agency is 30%. Let that sink in. Almost a third of the team working for you will leave every year. Our recruiting model focuses on talented, young individuals and a strong apprenticeship scheme not hiring rockstars. We build dedicated teams to serve our clients so they know who they are working with and, perhaps more importantly, our team know yours’ as well. We believe the relationships and knowledge base that forms as a result of this partnership is as invaluable as it is rare. Working together – not “playing it back” to you. Regular playbacks are not a synonym for collaboration Our projects are delivered alongside your developers, often with them in the same room so everyone can benefit from one another’s expertise. A playback is not collaboration; it’s a presentation. So you’ve realised that you’ve not got the experience to deliver a project and you have decided to work with an agency to help fill the skills gap. You decide what is to be delivered, agree on a price, are told a delivery date, wait patiently and then (hopefully!) receive a quality piece of work on time and on budget. If it all goes well, you happily rejoice having got just what you needed. Where’s the long term value? How is your team enriched or better equipped? What happens when the next project comes along, or the project needs amending. What if the project doesn’t meet requirements? It’s so old fashioned. What’s needed is a collaborative approach to project delivery wherein your team and the agency’s work together, every day, to ensure the project is delivered (of course) but also to give your team the skills, experience and knowledge to build upon the foundation. Ah – ha, some say, but progressive agencies offer weekly “playbacks” which involves the team along the way! But is a playback really a partnership or is it a glimpse into the black box like the windows at the edge of a construction site. Knowledge transfer is a dirty word in the agency world. The secret sauce needs to be protected. The in-house team is derided. It’s imperative that the agency is the black box – specification in, work out, with no clue as to the magic in between. That’s just not how the world works now. Through online tools such as Slack, JIRA, GIT and others we make sure that your dedicated team is an extension not a replacement. Knowledge transfer is a good thing – it’s in everyone’s interests for you to understand how the project is built and how to maintain and improve it. We promote regular on-site/off-site working (and playing!) between both teams. Our guys come to you, your guys come to us; it doesn’t matter. The sooner everyone is working together and sharing expertise the sooner the project will be successful. It is how software is written these days. Don’t work with an agency who wants to distance you from delivery. If you can’t put your guys in a room with theirs, if you can’t see their work every day, be part of the conversation, they’re still working in the Mad Men era. There’s more to an app than the application. We don’t need to jump from one high earning project to the next to stay afloat. We have built our agency on the back of long term relationships which let us spend our time improving applications over the long term. Design. Develop. Deploy. Repeat. The classic pattern of software development that all development teams follow. A time honoured and proven approach that delivers a solid end product. A big up-front fee and a nice ongoing support agreement. For classic software development, it’s a great fit, and indeed it will deliver an incredible application to your customers. In this day and age though a well considered app that is supported over time just isn’t enough. An app’s success is dictated by more than just the quality of it’s design and development – the eco system requires a much broader perspective and ongoing commitment. Unlike traditional software, the platforms on which these apps run is changing and evolving every month. New device types, from new vendors, on new platforms, with new distribution channels with new rules mean proactive monitoring of the handsets and App Store policies is essential. We proactively monitor and test all of our apps across their lifespan against a library of 150 devices – you can’t just have a QA phase and release any more. Analytical platforms which used to measure clicks, taps and interactions don’t cut it. Modern UI performance monitoring tools ensure the user has a slick experience and helps our team work out why the interface may be slow; crashlytics capture every application crash and send details information back to base. Every day we launch new iterations of interfaces without resubmitting apps using cutting edge A/B testing suites testing cohorts of users to see which perform the best for whom; push notifications need the same attention, positive review curation is essential; being appropriately optimised for the App Store and having a sensible paid campaign to support traffic – we think you get the point. We said earlier that the most critical phase of an application’s project delivery is the discovery and design phase, which is true, but the most critical phase of a project’s long term success is the ongoing suite of work which doesn’t simply maintain but proactively improves and adapts it to the mobile ecosystem. From the beginning we design the whole solution, not just the software. You can’t tack that on at the end, it has to be baked in from the beginning. Death of the almighty day rate We are invested, often literally, in the success of our projects. Instead of billing our time at a high day rate we can be completely open to new remuneration models that are focused on the success of our work such as profit sharing, success based milestone payments, leasing the solution, adoption based pricing and many more. Why joint ventures are our thing. An ongoing commitment to improving and maintaining the app’s wider success. All delivered by a committed, dedicated extension of your team that are learning from one another every day, The various components of our approach allow us to deliver solutions which we are committed and bought in to. As such we are invested, often literally, in the success of our projects. Instead of billing our time at a high day rate we can be completely open to new remuneration models that are focussed on the success of our work such as: profit sharing success based milestone payments leasing a solution adoption based pricing and many more. We have found the projects that step away from a traditional hourly rate are by far the most successful in the long term for both parties. That can be hard to understand but the root of the problem lies in the constraints of time-bound deliveries. When charging for time (either fixed cost or agile/time and materials) an artificial limit is placed on a project’s delivery. The agency is incentivised to deliver work as quickly as possible with resources as low cost as possible. The focus is on the project’s budget and profitability, not it’s long term success. Attention goes to the project with the highest day rate. You lose flexibility – any changes are costed, the dreaded change request arrives or the additional sprint costs start to mount up. Your focus is on percentage of budgets used, story points burnt or other effort based metrics. Paying for project delivery using hourly rates is archaic and damages the projects chance of success for everyone. All of the incentives are misaligned. rojects which are paid for based on the success of implementation over time help everyone. We are aligned to success and will spend the time we need to ensure it. You can focus less on controlling the project and more on helping it succeed. Most agencies won’t offer this model because they : Don’t or can’t invest the time up front to design a great solution Their high initial project-fee lead model doesn’t focus on long term success They can’t dedicate teams to your partnership because they turnover so quickly Talk to us about success based pricing. It’s our favourite way to go! Because we’re different – we don’t have these problems. We would be happy to discuss a commercial model centred on fairness for all parties, shared successes and a long term commitment.