Software development is not a “one and done” process. Continuous development, maintenance, and enhancements are a necessity to stay relevant and improve functionality. In today’s agile development cycle of continuous improvement and deployment, the developers you work with will become part of your team whether you outsource it or build your software internally. It depends on your organization’s needs and ability to support internal or external resources that ultimately determines which option is best for your success.
Outsourcing vs. Internal Team
Outsourcing could be more cost-effective for rapid application builds. Partnering with a company that specializes in the type of app you need to deploy can cut down the learning curve for an internal team and make sure the people doing the development have the skill set you need.
For example, let’s say your internal development team builds applications primarily in .Net but the app you’re looking to develop needs to be in PHP to effectively interface with other integration partners. Instead of going through a massive learning curve with your internal team, you are better off outsourcing to a PHP development team. It’s a good solution if you are creating a one-time build.
Building an internal team makes more sense when it’s a long-term product that needs to scale and be updated frequently.
You’re going to find benefits and potential risks for either an internal team or outsourcing.
Benefits of an In-house Team
- Cultural fit
- Engaged with key stakeholders
- More agile
- A better understanding of use cases
Developers that are permanent members of your team will be more knowledgeable about the business needs of your company. They are more likely to communicate regularly and deal with changes as use cases evolve. In addition, they can anticipate potential problems or new functionality that will be needed in the future given their knowledge of business needs. This is incredibly beneficial for future plans.
Potential Risks with an In-House Team
- More expensive
- May not have skills needed
- Difficulty in hiring top talent
- Staff turnover
When you hire people to join your staff, you have the ongoing expense associated with full-time employees that go beyond salary. You’re also paying for workspace, tech, benefits, and ongoing training to stay current.
Recruiting and keeping the talent you need is becoming ever-more difficult. Sourcing key developers with the right technical skills is crucial.
Benefits of Outsourcing
- Reduced costs
- Faster time-to-market
- Access to specialist and top talent
With outsourcing, you’re paying only for what you need with the ability to scale up on demand when needed. This allows you to keep projects lean. If you don’t currently have the skill sets you need in-house, it can take time to hire and onboard.
With an in-house team in place, sourcing and training on existing processes and infrastructure becomes much easier. Developers speak the same language even if they don’t code in it. Your in-house team can create very specific requirements documentation which makes life much easier for the external team and allows the business to effectively track deliverables and timelines of the project.
Outsourcing allows you to get started more quickly, which can translate into a much faster time-to-market.
Potential Risks with Outsourcing
- Less control over team and product
- Communication hurdles
- Less understanding of use cases
- Potential low-quality code or documentation
If an outsourced team doesn’t do a good job of documentation and produce high-quality code or uses proprietary products, it can be difficult to hand off to an internal team or a freelancer to handle maintenance and updates. This can lead to additional costs or even rework.
Communication can also be an issue. You have less control over outsourced work and lose the ability to have as many informal conversations and make sure teams absorb a company’s culture.
To curb these issues, it’s important to create a project road map to help internal and external teams communicate and stay clear on objectives and timelines. Project management software and communication solutions like Slack help keep both team in-line of objectives.
When Outsourcing and Internal Teams Work Best
Internal teams seem to work best when you’re working on a long-term project and need to ensure you have a team that can manage the project in the future. It allows you to have complete control over every aspect of a project and how team members will work. Having even a small internal team also gives you better control when you do choose to outsource a project in part or in its entirety.
Outsourcing seems to work best when you lack the experience or team necessary to develop the application you need, you lack the specialists for particular use cases, or you want to reduce costs or get projects to market faster. You may also want to avoid burdening your internal team with additional projects or take them away from other pending projects.
It’s really a decision each company needs to make depending on their needs and comfort level.
A Hybrid Approach
Realistically, you don’t have to pick one path or the other when developing mobile apps. Many companies build an internal team to handle development and oversee construction while outsourcing components or aspects of the build. Also, the development of the entire project might be outsourced and then delivered to an internal team to maintain and evolve.
Specialists might be added for specific time periods or for specific projects. This adds specialized knowledge at key points in product development without adding the expense to the payroll once the expertise is no longer needed. This approach has been shown to be the best over the long run.
Finding the Right Talent
Whichever way you approach the process, building an internal team, or outsourcing work to freelancers that can do the job you need can be difficult and time-consuming. Nearly two-thirds of CIOs (65%) report a lack of talent is holding their organizations back.
Whether you ultimately decide to hire an in-house team, outsource development work, use contract hires, or use a hybrid approach, it’s crucial you find the right developers for your project.
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