We see it all the time, where companies are working with a software developer and expect them to do everything and the kitchen sink.
From frontend development to backend development, a little bit of design, mixed in with some project management, strategy and architecture.
In fact, I’ve done this myself, being that one person who is responsible for delivering everything.
It’s not fun, you can’t deliver your best work, and on top of everything else, you’re going to be pretty slow.
That’s the problem with hiring freelancers for positions where you need a bit of everything.
So if you have a more complicated project that requires multiple skills, a software development agency may be exactly what you’re after.
What is a software development agency?
A software development agency is a team of people who outsource their skills to develop software for other teams. They’re usually multi disciplined so they can cover a variety of skills you’ll need to deliver a larger project.
How a software development agency can help
Because software development agencies are larger, there’s a lot of additional benefits they have that can’t be offered (or can’t be offered at the scale) of individuals.
Software development agencies will have people who are highly specialised in multiple teams, so as your project requirements get larger and more complex we’re able to handle it, and as we have specialists you know that you’ll be getting an extremely high quality solution.
Because we’ve got lots of people with multiple projects on the go, you’ll find that software development agencies niche down into specific areas of expertise. So while we have wide range of skills, we’ll only serve a small number of industries. That results in a deeper knowledge, leading to better results.
We’re not limited by working hours in the same way individuals are. The busier we are, the more we can grow to help you. Individuals meanwhile, are limited to 40h per week (assuming you’re their only work which is often not the case) which means unless you have a tiny project it’s unlikely to get done in a reasonable timeframe.
Scales with demand
Need a month off want to move over to support? What about ramping up a second project? Agencies are able to scale up and down as you need, adding more (or less) people to a project based on its requirements, which isn’t something that can easily be done via other means.
We provide project management for every project we bring on board, which is one less thing for you to worry about. We make sure that every team member communicates effectively and that deliverables are completed, and keep you up-to-date with the progress, so you don’t have to worry about anything after you’ve given us your requirements.
Maybe even cheaper
While agencies often charge a higher per-hour rate than freelancers or employees, if you choose the right agency the cost might even come out cheaper than any other way. How? Because time lost hiring team members, ensuring they communicate well, and building processes adds up. We’ve already got that in place, so there are no hidden costs and you get a lower overall risk.
Can’t I just hire a freelancer?
While it’s possible to hire freelancers who could cover all the skills you’ll need across a project, it’s difficult to find one that can cover all of the necessary skills well. Even if you can find one of these outstanding freelancers, you’ll likely be paying a premium for them and they’ll still only have so much available time they can offer you (and the more talented they are, the less time they’ll be able to offer).
If you instead want to hire multiple specialised freelancers to get the best results you’ll need to make sure that they all work together effectively and their standards are equally high quality, which will turn into a complex recruiting process and requires you to spend a lot of time managing the project.
As a general rule, the larger and more complex the project the less likely it will be that you’ll want to hire freelancer for the role.
What if I wanted to hire an employee?
Hiring employees for larger projects is certainly an option to consider, but this comes with all the risks of hiring one (or many) freelancers. On top of that, you’ll also be locked into supporting them long term with both internal growth opportunities and support, as well as extra costs such as healthcare, pension and training.
If you don’t have enough regular software development work to support a team of 40 hour week developers, architects and managers, you’re going to be paying for people you don’t need.
This can easily turn into a cycle of providing low-value work to keep them busy, which then needs support, which leads to more hires, all for some software that was never that important for your end goal - a problem I’ve seen crush many startups.
Is a software development agency my best choice?
This really depends on what it is that you need to build.
Here’s how we identify who’s best to hire in which situation:
Is your project both short term (less than 6 months) and has only one specific specialised requirement (frontend development, backend development, etc)?
If yes, you’ll probably be best hiring a freelancer
Is your project longer than 6 months but has only one specific specialised requirement and you’ll have enough work to keep them busy for the majority of a working week?
If yes, then you probably want to hire a full-time employee
You’re probably best hiring a software development agency.
Remember, you’re not locked in if you hire a software development agency or a freelancer so if you find that they aren’t working out for you, or that the needs of the project have changed over time, you can always change how you work together.
Always do your research
We’re under no illusions that software development agencies aren’t always right for every project, and that’s okay.
We highly recommend that every team do their research beforehand. Understand exactly what’s needed in order to deliver your project and what the most effective way to deliver that might be.
Finding people that you can work well together with is just as important for successful delivery as the knowledge they have, so meet with a few different people and find one that suits you.
If you need help deciding which approach is best to use or want support on defining the needs of your project, let us know and we can help point you in the right direction.