Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
Ficode was found in 2013 to be a one-stop solution for practically everything digital. We cover a broad spectrum of services that include web design, e-commerce development, mobile application development for Android and iOS, IoT building automation solutions and digital marketing, with teams consisting deep experience for each sector. As a company, we’re happy but not satisfied with our growth – we believe in constantly challenging ourselves and constantly improving.
As the CEO, my role is to steer the ship, provide direction and take a long-term strategic decision in consultation with senior team members. Apart from that, I see my role as that of someone who leads by example and builds a company that can attract and retain the best talent in the industry. As someone who heads an IT company in the UK, I spearhead organizational efforts of providing an exciting and a rewarding atmosphere for our amazing team members.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
I was a consultant earlier and came across my clients who were looking for outsourced partners in this globalized world. I found that they were not having a good experience and most of the time; quality of work was very poor even after many delays. Moreover, most of the relations were not protected by UK law. I realized that businesses are looking for a development partner where they have a legal binding of the UK with more economical access to very talented outsourced resources. That’s how Ficode came up. We wanted to be a company that clients trust. Technology is the tool we use to craft solutions, but primarily it’s our passion for customer success that really drives things.
What are your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
We have grown organically. In some of our early projects, we used to hire freelance talent but we saw that system had a number of limitations. So quickly we focused on building teams rather than running after growth. And that paid off because great team’s ensured great products and that led to growth. Besides, the environment that great teams build is difficult to reproduce with freelancers.
That doesn’t mean we are strictly closed to third-party vendors, but it’s mostly for support services. We continue building on our core competence and investing heavily in the upskilling of our teams.
How is your business model beneficial from a value-added perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
Well, what has really happened over time is the integration of skills and the wide range of services we provide under one roof. It gives us economies of scale that we can pass on to the customer. More importantly, it helps us produce real seamless solutions.
You know, our broad range of expertise lets us build future-ready solutions because we can bring a great deal to the project, irrespective of the size of the project.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive? If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
The growing reach of technology never stops fascinating me. With technology, we’ve been able to serve so many industries – and the list keeps growing.
Some of the industries that we have repeatedly served and built value for include banking finance and insurance, real estate, social networking, gaming and leisure, food and restaurant, education and e-learning, healthcare, media, and entertainment etc.
I am happy to note that the majority of our customers choose to work with us again and again. Over 90% of our clients are repetitive clients. Most of our clients are working with us for many years now.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the time frame of developing a mobile app.
It wouldn’t be accurate to generalize, given the range of mobile apps we have developed, but we can share whatever is common across all apps we’ve developed so far.
A good deal of detailing is required to build a good app. The core thing is what is the business requirement, what is client looking for, can it be a native or hybrid system, what is technology, whether there will be APIs integrations required, user management, social media; all these decide the time frame.
In certain projects like the financial sector, IOT, eCommerce etc real-time data processing, and security are the most critical outcome, whereas in others, say, social media, features like sharing are important. And in the food and restaurant industry, aesthetics is a key. So yes, the parameters change drastically when you step from one industry into another.
How much effort in terms of time goes into developing the front end and back end of a mobile app?
I wish I could generalize but that’s not how real world works. Some apps focus heavily on aesthetics and the front-end while others need extensive server-side programming which means there’s a lot of work done at the back-end. Large mobile games, for instance, balance both the front-end where design is important and the back-end where gamer scores, coins, badges and in-app purchases are carefully recorded. So we can say, it depends entirely on the project.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right platform for a mobile application?
It’s always the user-base, geography and the goals the mobile app is trying to achieve. For instance, iOS may be more popular in, say, North America, while Europe may have more Android users. Besides, the kind of flexibility and customization required also matters. Finally, we need to clearly understand whether the app will monetize through in-app purchases because that too might influence your decisions.
Which platform do you suggest your clients, to begin with when they approach you with an idea (Android or iOS) and why?
It depends on multiple things. For instance, the number of iOS users worldwide is fewer than Android users, but data says, on an average iOS user spend more on apps than Android users. So data can be quite an eye-opener and hence it’s very important to know the overall goals, monetization policies and so on.
If you still want a simple answer, I’d say client would be better off if they’d start with Android.
Android or iOS, Native or Hybrid — which platform is best to use to build your app? What are your recommendations?
I believe Android / iOS native is the best option because the Operating System gives full support when the app is native. You can build an app that’s really, really seamless. No hiccups anywhere. When you choose Hybrid, well, you quickly encounter issues like limited access to using stuff like camera, image editing, location services, sensors etc. On the face, the app may look the same, but under the skin, Hybrid has some strong limitations and I would suggest it only for relatively simple tasks.
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of a mobile application?
While we do have an algorithm, a kind of check-list that gives us a ballpark figure of the total cost, that’s only a reference point. As we pore deeper into the requirements, complexities of design, coding, integration and database management begin emerging. So that’s when the actual numbers show up. More complex and extensive projects require us to deploy our most talented resources. And if there’s a huge time-pressure, that too can impact the costing.
Besides, a number of our clients want us to take care of support, upgrades, digital marketing or something like that and that changes the equation too.
What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients? Is it Pay per Feature, Fixed Cost, Pay per Milestone (could be in phases, months, versions etc.)
It’s interesting how an excellent system in one part of your business can help other systems too. We have developed a very superior system in breaking down every project into specific, time-bound and quality-driven milestones.
Interestingly, that’s also the format we use for billing: we begin with some advance fees, and then the client pays us as per defined milestones. And clients love it because it’s an extremely fair method for either of us. And it’s so transparent.
Do you take in projects which meet your basic budget requirement? If yes, what is the minimum requirement? If no, on what minimum budget you have worked for?
When you work globally, projects of all sizes come up. To make sure we don’t sacrifice quality, we naturally have to stick to some sort of minimum budget. We make exceptions to that, especially when the project has a challenging factor into it, but not too often.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2017?
The range has been US$ 10,000 to the US $ 250,000.
Which business model do you suggest to your clients enabling them to generate revenue from mobile applications? Why?
It’s not that every app is designed with clear monetization targets. For instance, WhatsApp is an app too, right? Yet it doesn’t directly charge users. Down the line, there could be a WhatsApp design that’s meant for business users, or they could leverage WhatsApp pay for monetization.
Some apps use the paywall approach – you can access some services for a limited time or number and then you pay. I’d say in-app purchases, the freemium (free + paid premium models) are the best now.