You have an idea for a great software or an absolute need to get an app done to boost your productivity, but you don’t have software developers. How do you make your app? Do you hire developers or outsource it to a bespoke software development company?
These questions are not easy to answer. From our experience in this space for more than a decade, here are the top 5 things to consider.
DO I HAVE THE DOUGH?
Do you have enough money to hire in-house developers and also spend on marketing?
If the answer is yes then it’s a strong reason not to outsource. We’ve got to be honest here, having your own developers working next to you is the best, if you can cover some of the other risks around this. But you should also consider, if it makes sense to get more mileage out of your funds by using a lower cost source or if you want to spend more on marketing, keeping the development cost in control.
CAN I MANAGE TECHIES?
Do you or your in-house team have experience managing a technical team?
If you answer yes then that’s perfect and you will need that experience whether you outsource or hire internally. But if you answer no, then that is a big reason for outsourcing your project. As anyone with experience in the software world will tell you, software project management is a pain (and also an art). With an outsourced project, if you choose the right partner, you can also outsource that pain to someone else! Set the milestones and your delivery expectations, reasonably, and it’s the job of an experienced project manager to get those expectation met.
HOW SPECIAL IS MY CONTRAPTION?
Is some unique algorithm or convoluted calculation the main business value of your application?
If you answer yes then this is a strong reason not to outsource, at least that part of the software which is unique. When you outsource you don’t have direct control over the resources and a developer who might have the whole algorithm figured out in her head might just leave and it’s very difficult for you to stop that. Also, business sense says that the knowledge should stay in your control. Google wouldn't be google if they outsourced their search logic!
The solution could be that you hire developers for the core and save money by outsourcing the the rest. Or you could have a contract which lets you have the option of hiring the resources at some point. Here is something that we sometimes have in our contract to cover this situation:
“...Acme inc. may request Kaz Software to place named team members as direct Acme inc. employees, with the express prior written consent of Kaz Software...”
CAN I GET ALL THE SKILLS TOGETHER?
Does your in-house team have a variety of technical skills?
Software requires all sorts of skills. To start things off you need a variety of ideas in your brainstorming so that innovation can happen. Then you need designers to draw things. You need technical people to say what’s possible, what’s a good trade-off (“oh that will take years to support on Internet Explorer”) and you need them to write the code (of course!). Then you need testers to check if there are bugs and systems guys to find the right server to deploy and launch the product.
When you are using an in-house team, usually you have to get by making the same person to put on multiple hats. This may work but it limits the set of ideas and possibilities. When you outsource, you usually get a pool of resources from which people can be drawn into your team at the right time and then moved out. This is a big one for going the outsourcing route if your local team is small or non-existent.
HOW ROCKY IS THE ROAD AHEAD?
If you have a business plan and the market research that says things should be a sure shot then going in-house works. But if you are not sure and know that the road might be rocky ahead then having development outsourced is much safer - it lets you ramp up or ramp down fast. With an in-house team both growing and reducing fast is painful and expensive. And having a reputation of that instability makes it that much difficult to hire talented techies from the market.
Worried? Don't be. At the end it's an adventure and if you play thing right a really good one. Contact us if you need our advice or want to consider us for developing your app. We have loads of experience helping customers like you.