Outsourcing vs in-house development
CEO at BinaryFolks, ex-Google, ex-Amazon, ex Salesforce
To hire a dedicated team or outsource development to software firms — that is the question.
In this article, we will compare outsourcing software development
with in-house software development, outlining the pros and cons of each approach. We will also advise when you should hire an in-house developer and when you should outsource.
What is in-house software development?
In-house software development means leveraging company resources (in-house team) to develop or implement software according to the company-specific requirements.
With this approach, you need to invest money and time assembling all the different people or roles that are involved in creating a solid base for developing good software.
When developing software in-house, software development needs to be the company’s core competency. They need to have enough resources and infrastructure to support the software development on their own.
What is Outsourcing?
In simple words, outsourcing is task delegation. Basically, an arrangement made by a business to hire a third party software contractor to do the software related work instead of doing it in-house.
With this approach, the initial time and cost savings come from not hiring in-house employees and not investing in infrastructure.
This is generally done by companies whose core competency is not IT or when their IT department’s plate is full with other core processes.
Now that we have an overview, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both the approaches.
Pros of hiring an in-house software development team
A better understanding of the corporate culture and business.Always availableComplete dedication towards the projectNo cultural differencesNo language barriersFace-to-face discussionsMaintenance, modernization, and support- all internal
Cons of hiring an in-house software development team
Increase in cost (Salaries, perks, raises, insurance, travel expenses, etc)Infrastructure investmentLack of skillsQuitting, which means starting the whole process over
Pros of Outsourcing
Cost savingsNo employee hiring hasslesAccess to global skillsFlexibility in business processesFaster time to marketIncreased Focus on Core BusinessBetter Risk Management
Cons of outsourcing
Partial loss of controlCultural and time differencesCommunication and managementConfidentiality of information
Let’s further break these down
There is nothing like in-house development. It’s easier and much more manageable. If you need a change in requirements or an update, you can walk a few desks and call them over for a cup of coffee and a chat. That’s awesome.
But keep in mind, the process of in-house software development is lengthy.
Step 1 — Suppose you are working for an eCommerce company. Your boss tells you that the company requires inventory management software to streamline inventory processes. You take the request and reach out to the business analysts.
Step 2 — The business analyst draws up a business requirement document and informs you what kind of resources are required.
Step 3 — You now know what the software is and what it does, so, the next step is assembling an IT team — Developers, designers, project managers, and testers. So, you reach out to the recruitment team.
Step 4 — Job postings, interviews and hiring — a good few months passes by!
Step 5 — Once you assemble a team, the development starts and now you can order the coffee ;)
Did you know? Hiring a software engineer takes 35 days, on an average in the USA.
But with in-house development, the team you assemble will all develop the company projects, dedicatedly, directing all efforts towards the success of the company. There will be no distractions with other projects.
All your company resources are restricted to your own self and no external organization gets access to them.
As the team you hire are locals, they will be well aware of the company culture and work the same hours as everyone else in the company. This will result in better collaboration.
In hours when the software needs support, your team will be readily available to solve any and every bug that arises as soon as possible.
Well, all good then! Dedicated services, no communication barriers, regular availability — life’s great with in-house software development! Hold on now…
The hassles of hiring a whole team need to be discussed. Proper screening, validating, back and forth interviewing come into play here. Also, the skills that you require might not match with the candidates applying.
There’s also training them, managing the project and the huge risk of the employees leaving in-between projects.
And now on to the key factor for almost all businesses — the cost! Because, I have never heard anyone say, whatever the cost might be… we don’t care. When you hire in-house employees, the costs you incur are:
Perks and other expensesOffice spaceIT architecture etc., etc.
The salary of an average web developer in the USA is around $88,000.
Moral — in-house team hiring and maintenance is costly.
Outsourcing in today’s age where everyone has an insatiable desire for innovation means huge opportunity in terms of gaining competitive advantage. You get access to globally skilled developers and the good news is you can pick and choose and hire anyone that you want.
The process of outsourcing also has hassles: Initially, it’s a lot of due diligence. You need to understand the company, their culture, their experiences, ask for referrals, etc. Along with that, constant communication and management are crucial for project success.
But, once you find the ideal company, your cost and time both fall drastically when compared to in-house development.
The cost reduces as there is a considerable difference in wages in developed and developing countries. And also, a hefty amount of money in the form of employee salary and benefits gets saved.
Outsourcing also means faster time to market as you can dictate the timelines in accordance with your schedule and your software company will have dedicated developers at your service accordingly.
But yeah, software outsourcing can also result in a huge headache if the software company is wrongly chosen or is unfit to develop according to the exact requirements. A huge risk is potential information loss as your idea will be shared with a few vendors. Create an NDA and make sure your vendors sign it to avoid potential information loss.
Also, it’s a huge debate regarding price-quality in software outsourcing. Don’t jump to hire the person who quotes the lowest price! Ensuring quality will require taking into consideration more factors than cost. With the right attitude, not only will you save money but will also find a great quality software solution.
Communication is another debatable topic when it comes to outsourcing. But standing in the 21st century where almost 9/10 individuals own a smartphone, there are ample ways to cross these communication barriers.
Video calling, email updates, video demos, instant messages, etc. are all bringing the outsourcing firm and the software vendor much closer in terms of collaboration.
Then why outsource? A large majority of business owners are hesitant when it comes to bespoke software development. The main reason for it is the price. Also, as discussed, capacity issues still remain one of the biggest challenges along with hiring talent for in-house development and outsourcing seems like a quick fix.
According to a report on State of software development
, enterprises and startups were asked: “Have you ever outsourced software development fully or partly?”
Out of the people who outsourced, 57.33% outsourced development to a Software development company!
Now we know what in-house development and outsourcing are and their pros and cons. So, when does it actually make sense to outsource software development and when to develop software in-house?
Both are time-consuming. Both require due-diligence. If you don’t hire a competent developer, your project will suffer, Similarly, if you don’t hire a competent software outsourcing company, your project will suffer!
Consider three things when you need to make a decision regarding outsourcing vs in-house: budget, timeline and project scope.
Let me explain with an example: suppose you decide to develop a taxi-sharing app and your whole focus and business revolves around that. That becomes your core business activity. You know that you have some time before you launch and you also have some money to support the development. Going for an in-house team is the best in this case.
This development will be continuous and every aspect of your business will revolve around this. Is it a specialized service you need to handle full-time. So, hire an in-house team!
Now, say you need an inventory management software that will help automate the business processes. But, your business doesn’t revolve around this and once you have the software you don’t need daily maintenance. Also, you need this software fast and don’t want to spend too much on it. You are better off outsourcing this to some capable software outsourcing company.
Outsource activities that are not the core element of your business. When properly utilized, outsourcing can help streamline your business operations more strategically and help you gain a competitive advantage.
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