In-house vs outsourcing software development: How does your business decide?
By Jamie Mercer
Hiring the right people for your development team can be tricky, and as your organisation grows, you’ll come up against the dilemma of whether to keep your development in-house or outsource it.
During any development project you’ll face bumps in the road, including a lack of available talent or the added costs incurred to complete a project on time.
When making your final choice you’ll need to factor in all options, so to help you make an educated decision, Pearson Frank has picked out the pros and cons of using in-house resources and outsourcing your development team.
Build a development team to suit your needs
Before developing an application, you need a plan in place. Part of this should be to hire developers that match your requirements, and one of the advantages of in-house software development is that you can pinpoint people with the skillsets you need.
Every developer should have something unique to bring to the table. But you’ll need to delve deeper into their technical skills and overall experience to make sure they’re suitable —this is where a recruiter can step in to help you find the perfect candidate.
To begin your search for an in-house developer who fits the bill you’ll need a job advert listing all the relevant experience and specification. Going for someone who matches them perfectly can be more beneficial as they’ll hit the ground running after they’re hired.
Finding this person shouldn’t be difficult, especially if you use the services of a recruiter. But remember to look beyond the details on their CV and test their coding expertise, because practical experience should hold more bearing than theoretical.
Maintaining harmony on your development team should also be a top priority, so you’ll need someone who is also a strong cultural fit.
The last thing you’ll want is rifts forming on your development team, and by choosing to keep all your developers under one roof, you can ensure they share the same values.
Remember, when building an in-house team, take the time to find the right people, as it can be better for your business in the long term.
Strong communication between your developers
When developing an application maintaining the communication flow between all of your developers should be a top priority for your business.
Removing any obstacles developers are likely to face should be the job of your Scrum Master or Development Team Lead, depending on your methodology, and should help the entire development process go off without a hitch.
Having a full in-house development team should remove the threat of zero communication as not only will they be sitting in the same room, they’ll also partake in regular meetings together to solve issues and bugs.
Introducing a development methodology such as pair programming can also help communication levels remain high. Partnering up two developers who are similar in skill-level allows them to put forward alternative solutions and perform peer-to-peer code reviews which can help speed up the production of an app.
By hiring in-house, implementing pair programming and advocating open communication channels, it should promote a strong team bond and also gives people nowhere to hide when receiving feedback that can help increase productivity.
You can handle all aspects of development
Maintaining control all your development processes in-house can help speed up the process.
Keeping this control is something every business should value. One of the advantages of an in-house development team is they can undertake all the coding and testing under your roof to help you sustain a high-level product.
Monitoring all your development tasks will also ensure your developers are skilled enough to undertake everything required of them, and if you discover skills gaps in your team, you’ll be able to bring in people to fill the vacant space.
External agencies can complete certain development tasks for you, but keeping all of your team members on your development floor should enable you to maintain complete control while finishing tasks quicker and more cost-effectively.
The disadvantages of in-house development
Exhausting your talent pool
When taking into account all the positives, there will, of course, be negatives and one of the primary issues your business can face by hiring solely on a permanent basis is exhausting the talent pool of developers in your area.
Most cosmopolitan cities have technological districts bursting with top-class developer talent. But as you begin your recruitment drive, you’ll discover you’re not the only business vying for their services.
Failing to bring in a developer with the necessary skills can lead to project delays and added costs. So whether you choose to use a recruiter, or you’re taking charge of the entire process, you need them to sign on the dotted line quickly.
Of course, if you miss out on one developer, in a metropolitan environment, there will be others available. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for more rural areas.
While it can be more cost-effective to have your HQ away from the hustle and bustle of city life, when it comes to finding a new developer to fill a vacancy, your available options may be limited.
Software developers are creatures of habit, enjoying all the amenities to help with quick development, including a speedy internet connection. They may simply disregard your job advert if it’s outside of a particular postcode.
However, this can be different if you’re looking to bring in a contractor to fill the skills gap. These developers will travel to wherever your office is based, so you’re less likely to run out of potential candidates if you make them an attractive offer.
Contractors can help complete specific tasks
No matter how much you plan ahead, there will be issues your development team will be unable to handle. To avoid any delays by searching for a new developer to fill the vacancy long-term, it could be time to outsource some tasks.
Whether you need a specific language to complete a project, or knowledge of a particular framework, there is a whole contract market with developers who can come into your business, cut down sprint times and help complete a job.
In fact, by adding additional resource to your team on a contract basis, your business can execute tasks within a shorter time frame, which in the overall scheme of things could save you money.
The marketplace for these type of developers is always growing, and if this isn’t your first rodeo when it comes to outsourcing, you’ll know what to expect.
But if this is a new journey for your business, your first step will be to set out all of the requirements to ensure they’re completed on time and to an appropriate level.
Outsourcing your development will also enable you to build up a list of companies and contractors you can rely on if you find yourself in similar situations in the future.
Outsourcing development can open up a larger talent pool
The SaaS industry has grown exponentially over the last decade, and that expansion is expected to continue, with 83% of businesses set to have their workloads in the cloud by 2020.
Successfully embracing these technological changes often comes down to having skilled developers in place. But if you’ve already exhausted the permanent talent pool in your area, it could be time to search elsewhere.
By expanding your search radius to contractors, you’ll also not only find developers who might not otherwise be on your radar, but you’ll begin to widen your network for future projects which can save time and money in the long-term.
Failure to complete a project on time can leave you behind schedule, but by finding a contractor who can work remotely, you can avoid further issues by bringing them on board faster and cutting out other expenses like travel.
Find the right development partner: it can be beneficial
Choosing to outsource your development is not a decision to be taken lightly, and whether you decide to hire a contractor, or offload all your tasks to a third party, it’s vital you select a development partner who shares your values.
For the entire outsourcing process to be successful, you need to have a clear vision of what you require from the application, and the developers you choose to hire, as failing to set this out can lead to issues further down the line.
With the use of technology growing and more unique platforms becoming available for businesses to utilise, there will be a perfect collaborative partnership out there; you just need to find it.
“There is a magnitude of development options for startups and corporates,” says Matt Jonns of Ucreate. “But outsourcing doesn’t have to be such a burden; forming collaborative partnerships with tech companies can save a new business time and money. It’s all about working with a company that shares the same values and is just as passionate to help you succeed.”
Developers won’t always have the skills they portray
Although outsourcing development can help speed up your development tasks, there are occasions when you’ll come across issues.
When hiring a developer it’s imperative, and if you choose to outsource, make sure the contractor or the software house you select has the skills and expertise to complete the tasks you’ve set out.
But there are times where developers will attempt to pull the wool over your eyes when talking about their technical know-how or they may try to pass off theoretical knowledge as practical experience.
Both of these scenarios can lead to delays if your hiring manager chooses to bring them on to the development floor. You could soon discover they lack the skills needed to fulfil project requirements and hit the completion deadline.
Take a look over their CV and portfolio, talk to previous employers and confirm whether the skills they list are the same as their technical prowess. You don’t want a half-finished project on your hands.
All of these concerns can place added pressure on your business, and failure to perform background checks could land you in hot water further down the line.
Avoiding this predicament should enable your business to find the perfect long-term partner who you can draft in when needed.
Communication gaps can appear
Completing a development project on time will require strong communication across your entire team. If your team is made up of contractors, you will need a standard tool for communication; otherwise, you can face delays.
This breakdown can occur when a developer leaves a project, or they don’t respond to emails in a timely manner.
If you see these communication gaps appearing, it could be time to make a change to your development process.
Whichever route you take, making sure you’ve made the right choice for your business is a top priority. Not every development task is suited to outsourcing, but comparatively, your in-house team may not have the skills to complete niche tasks.
Hiring developers on a permanent basis will allow you to monitor all of the projects happening on the development floor. But that isn’t to say a contractor or digital agency won’t come in handy when you need an extra pair of hands, or a particular skillset that’s missing from your bench.
When searching for the perfect team, the best approach is to use a combination of both, and when it comes down to in-house versus outsourcing, finding a happy medium should enable all your tasks to be completed without issues.