Is outsourced software development the best choice for me?
If you’re reading this article, then it’s likely that you’re just about to make one of the most detrimental decisions in the history of your company – choosing the right team to work on your software project.
Perhaps, not a single line of code has yet been written; alternatively, you’re looking to expand your software development workforce.
So, whom will you be best off with – freelancers, an in-house team, or maybe a software house?
Here’s a breakdown that might just solve your dilemma between in-house vs. outsourced software development!
This might be a good solution if you’re looking to develop a simple project that won’t need ongoing, complex maintenance.
You might hit the jackpot by working with freelancers who come highly recommended by someone you know or a reputable online community. From a pragmatic point of view, working with such a person might also be cost-effective.
You’ll also quickly notice that top-rated freelancers are some of the most insightful, enthusiastic developers in the game. No wonder – doing project-based work for diverse clients requires them to be inventive and stay informed if they want to stand out on the market.
Now, when can hiring freelance developers backfire?
For one, it’s not the best idea if you want to work with multiple freelancers on the same, complex project.
It’s possible that a group of strangers, all of whom have different experiences, workflows, and, possibly, varying levels of expertise, won’t find a common language.
In the worst case scenario, things might get out of hand and their working together will be counterproductive, to say the least. In such circumstances, some developers might even decide to drop out (unless you’d taken precautions and they’ve signed a contract that legally binds them to stay on the project).
I don’t think I have to mention what such a turn of events could result in if you were working on a critical deadline...
At times, it can also be risky to outsource to freelancers who can’t guarantee that they’ll be available to maintain the running software – especially in its first weeks or months.
Having the original dev team sort out bugs and fixes in the code they’ve authored is simply the easiest and most time effective solution.
Finally, it’s your responsibility to make sure that freelancers pay sufficient attention to preparing an up-to-date, comprehensive source code documentation. Otherwise, anyone new to the project might have difficulty finding their way around.
Here are some other critical points you need to be aware of before you decide on outsourcing to a freelancer:
- make sure that any user data you share is protected. It’s never been more important than in the days of global data breaches and strict GDPR rules.
- take the necessary steps to secure ownership of the code – you might need to sign a special agreement that transfers the copyrights to your company.
On the other side of the spectrum...
Many companies – particularly those that develop and maintain complex platforms – value the convenience of working with in-house developers.
In all honesty, we’ve got to give it to them – being able to put a face to the name or running a live standup over a cup of morning coffee in the office certainly has its perks. There are also formal arguments in favor of in-house development – your company automatically gains ownership of any code and software created by developers on the job. This is of the essence when you part ways with any of your employees.
Nevertheless, there are several things you must consider before you start clearing up office space for your fresh dev hires.
Firstly, your worst enemy will likely be... the shortage of qualified specialists.
A highly-skilled developer is pure gold, and companies are in a constant battle over them.
Secondly, apart from market scarcity, hiring an entire team of highly-skilled developers also means you need to be ready for a long-term commitment.
No developer wants to work for a company that will terminate his or her contract as soon as they’ve just settled in.
This being, you must take into account the costs surrounding monthly salary, training, equipment, tools, insurance, benefits...you see where I’m heading with this, right? You need to offer your employees everything that will make them want to stay with your company and keep turning down all incoming job offers.
To summarize – if money and permanent employment contracts aren’t an issue, in-house devs might be your thing. Otherwise, if you’ve got a complex project, but prefer not to take on all the in-house commitment, an experienced software house should be your go-to solution.
For many companies, it’s the best of two worlds. The perfect balance between flexibility and stability.
Software houses provide you with high-end services, all the while taking away the effort and hassle surrounding putting together a team. You’ll be working with an expert group of developers, whom you won’t need to find and hire yourself!
Remember the cautionary tale at the beginning of this post about freelancers working together on a project? This couldn’t be more different!
With software houses, the team assigned to your project has already worked together many times. Their relations closely resemble those of in-house developers. This includes handling code review quickly and efficiently, and ease of communication among peers, among many other benefits.
For example, if there’s a dispute between two developers as to how a feature should be developed, you won’t need to arbitrate. The team will either discuss the pros and cons internally, or call a meeting if you’d like to be included in the technical decision-making process.
Another unbeatable perk?
Software houses will give you a helping hand if your project development strategy isn’t set in stone yet.
This includes: getting help with determining MVP, making the best technology decisions, determining technical requirements, sprint planning, and so much more.
With a contract in place, everything is also regulated by the law. This means that – even if you outsource to a company in a foreign country – you may rest assured that any data that you make available to your external team is protected.
Still, keep in mind that working with software houses won’t be a walk in the park straight away for everyone, though.
For example, if you’ve only worked with in-house teams in the past, you might need time to adjust to the remote side of things. Depending on your contract and timezone of both parties, developers might also not be available for meetings as frequently as your in-house team was.
Respectively, if you’re looking to upgrade from freelancers to a software house, then you’ll need to get adjusted to a more formalized process. A software house, just like you, will have its expectations of your work together – for example, appearing on weekly sprint planning calls, which might not have been the standard with your freelance developers.
So, if you’re shifting from a different team to a software house for the first time, here’s my advice – give it some time, and fight the urge to micromanage. You’re in expert hands, after all!
We could go on and on about the ins and outs of working with a software house like ours, and we’d be delighted to tell you all about it.
If you’d like to hear more, reach out to us – we’d love to discuss how we can help your business!