Many small businesses catering to smartphone-loving demographics have considered developing mobile apps for consumer use. Doing so can provide an integral break in today’s business environment, and for many, the key to moving forward is understanding the best option for mobile development. Thankfully for business owners, there are two clear paths in this major step: either develop an app independently or add outsourced engineering to the existing financial plan.

Roughing It
If a business chooses to go its own way, one of the best options is to download app-building software. These tools allow amateur developers to build their own apps, some from scratch and some through comprehensive templates. With such technology, however, the cost often corresponds to ease-of-use. One program currently on the market ranges from free to $30 a month, requiring the user to learn basic development skills along the way. Another existing option allows the user to build his business’ app through user-friendly templates. Such software can cost thousands, however, forcing the amateur developer to sacrifice either time or money.

Paying for Success
A business’ second option holds a definite upfront cost, but from the example of Canada’s Pizza Pizza chain, investing in such an endeavor may pay back ten-fold. Especially in the case of non-tech business, outsourcing app development may be worth the money.

“When we first sat down with Pizza Pizza, they knew very little about mobile apps, because what they really know is pizza,” said Plastic Mobile CEO Melody Adhami. The mobile experience and design agency received a Webby Award in 2011 just months after launching the eatery’s app, which helped Pizza Pizza reach its half-year goal in just a month and a half.

Whether a small business chooses to embark on a developmental journey itself or to pay for high-quality agency work in going mobile, the results may be costly in either budget or time. The necessary choice is whether to take a hit in funds or in the time and resources of whoever is assigned to maintain the app. As more development technology options appear, deciding between outsourcing and in-house construction may become easier, so the time may not be right for some firms. An app can be great for consumers, but unless it is beneficial to the business and functions properly, it is simply not necessary.