Is It Time To Consider Software Development Outsourcing?

When to put a contractor on the job, and when to hire in-house help

It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business owner or a department manager at a large firm, you’ve got plenty of development work to do and you need someone to do it. But do you know whether you should hire full-time employees or outsource the work?

Each approach has its own advantages, but knowing what to do has a huge impact on your ROI. To help you make the right decision, we’ve outlined some key points to consider when choosing between in-house and outsourced help.

When to hire in-house

Hiring in-house help gives you long-term IT support from developers who are always in tune with the rest of your organization, not to mention always on hand when you need them. This kind of dedicated help means you can fix bugs, answer questions, and solve tech problems with efficiency.

Consider hiring in-house developers when:

  • You need help with tasks that are part of your company’s core competencies
  • Tech/software development is one of your company’s main functions

Let’s say you manage the IT department for a company that provides private aviation services. There are multiple departments that rely heavily on various software applications designed to handle scheduling, maintenance, tracking, and other tasks. All of these are crucial to your company’s strategy of providing efficient service.

But you’re always overloaded with work. Users from every department turn to you for help with these mission-critical systems, and for every support ticket you resolve, three more come trickling in.

Since your company strives to provide efficient service, hiring in-house developers allows you to handle the extra work and stay up to speed. In-house developers provide your organization with the long-term IT help it needs to assist other departments, and ultimately support its strategy of providing efficient service.

Once you cover the costs of onboarding and training, you have dedicated developers to help with the company’s critical systems. This ongoing support allows you to minimize inefficiencies and the risk of losing customers.

When to outsource

To begin with, outsourcing typically comes in three forms:

  • Freelance – This involves hiring individuals who are working on their own. Freelance outsourcing is alluring because it’s generally much less expensive than other kinds of outsourcing. The major drawback is it can be difficult to gauge the quality, accessibility, reliability, etc. of your new help.
  • Outsourcing abroad – This involves hiring a development company outside of your geographic location. This is a popular outsourcing option because of the organization and reliability it offers at an affordable cost. Some drawbacks are geographic/time zone constraints and language barriers.
  • Outsourcing locally – This involves hiring a development company that’s in the same geographic location, economy, or time zone as you. This option produces excellent results because you get the most reliable and accessible service from your outsourcing partner. The biggest issue, however, is the cost, which can be much higher than other options.

Freelancers are helpful for smaller tasks such as administration and graphic design. Of course, you can tack them on to support your team when you’ve got light development work that needs to be done, but for more extensive work, it’s best to consider outsourcing with a development company.

Plenty of firms provide you with an array of developers who specialize in various functional areas. This means that when you choose an outsourcing partner, you can swap developers as your needs change. And when you choose the right partner, outsourcing can give you the support you need to complete all of your extra duties.

Consider outsourcing when:

  • You’ve got your core competencies covered and you need help with supplementary tasks
  • Operational/supplementary tasks prevent you from focusing on your business strategy
  • You’ve got specialized work in an area that in-house devs aren’t skilled in

Let’s say you’re still managing IT for the private aviation company. You’ve got a full team of developers supporting essential systems, but management wants you to build a custom mobile app that lets customers reserve flights, pay balances, manage accounts, etc. The problem is, you can’t devote your team to app development since their main function is to support the company’s critical systems, not to develop new software. Your team simply doesn’t have enough time or experience to create a mobile app.

Outsourcing in this situation allows you to tackle the new project without disrupting normal operations (or the rest of the company).

Many outsourcing firms specialize in mobile app development. They provide you with experienced teams and proven development practices, so you can stay focused on managing your team and supporting other departments within the company.

Outsourcing means you’ll spend some time looking for the right developer. This time investment is much smaller than it would be if you were to screen individual members for an in-house development team. Once you enlist the right firm, you’ll have an experienced group examining your problem, gathering your needs, outlining your requirements, etc. You won’t have to worry about all of the operational tasks involved in developing the app, such as managing devs, workflows, and releases.

If you decide to hire your own developers, you’ll have to screen individual candidates, which eats up a lot of time. Once you find the right candidates to join your team, you’ll have to make additional time and monetary investments to cover training and overhead costs, on top of their salaries. Also, you might come to find out that one of your new employees lacks a key skill or proficiency that you previously overlooked. Now, you need to pay to train them or hire another employee, adding to your already large investment.

More on outsourcing

Even if you don’t need help with something as big as a mobile app project, outsourcing can benefit you when it comes to more specialized tasks. Oftentimes tech and software companies outsource because they need help working in an area of weakness, or because they simply don’t have the time or resources to handle all the extra work. This means that they’ll seek a partner who specializes in their weak spot, or someone who can efficiently tackle the work they can’t do.

Maybe one of your weaknesses revolves around a specific type of programming. You’ll benefit from outsourcing with someone who specializes in the language or platform you need.

Maybe you’re overloaded with work and struggling with test plans for some of your projects. It’ll be helpful to find an outsourcing partner who’s proficient with quality QA practices and can manage your test plans for you.

Maybe you just don’t have the resources to optimize code, sync servers, or deal with database issues. Outsourcing can help you pick up the slack in areas where you need it most.

On another note, outsourcing isn’t always a short-term solution. Many companies often hire outside help to deal with ongoing issues and provide support for the long term. Top companies like Google and Facebook depend on a roster of their own staff, but for many years have also relied heavily on outsourced developers, content moderators, and others.

So what should you do?

Obviously, it’s not wise to outsource your entire IT staff, especially if tech/software is a huge part of what you do. On the flip side, you don’t need to hire in-house for every role that must be filled. So, take all of the information outlined in this post and think critically about what you need. You’ll probably discover that the solution to your problem lies in employing a mix of in-house and outsourced staff.

Support the core of your operation with competent in-house employees. These people will become the life of your organization, helping you make key decisions and accomplishing the things that are crucial to your business strategy.

When you’ve got extra work or something that you can’t handle, outsourcing is an excellent option. With the right partner, you’ll get the support to tackle everything holding back your core team, whether it’s implementing effective QA procedures, developing with unfamiliar programming languages, or managing your architecture. And don’t think of outsourcing as a temporary fix – a lot of companies are ready and willing to help you out, even if you’ve got years of work on the table.