If your company has concluded that it needs a custom mobile application, there are three easy steps that you should follow before you get started on your custom app:
1. Define all of your wants and needs on paper.
2. Gather any existing forms and reports that you need to include in the app.
3. Start looking for a software developer at least 3 months before you need to get started and at least one year before you need the application ready.
Once you’ve got these 3 steps down, ask your software developer to create all designs with Adobe illustrator or similar tool. Also ask him/them to specifically describe in written form the functionality that each screen designed will have. In this manner, you can easily review the design and get a good feeling of what your application is going to look like and what it will be able to do, before software development begins. It is much easier to modify workflow and design of a pdf drawing, than it is to modify an application that has already begun development.
If your custom app is small in scope (6 months or less to develop), you should try to negotiate a fix price for development. Otherwise, ask for an estimated project timeline so you can have some ideas of the time frame and invest required on your end.