Who is in-house development for?
Some companies focus on software development and have experienced teams to create new projects and maintain existing ones. Some, however, concentrate on different aspects of business and for them, apps are just means of achieving particular goals. For them, apps are tools. Do both types need to employ whole teams of coders, designers and testers? Definitely not. Instead, each business must assess the costs and benefits of doing so. To make a conscious decision, a number of questions need to be asked and answered.
First of all, how does in-house development exactly work? It simply means starting and completing the whole software development life cycle (SDLC) within the company, using internal resources and with no external help. The idea is simple, but it poses a lot of dangers, and only a few businesses can afford it, not just financially, but for a number of other reasons. First of all, a complete team is needed, and assembling it is a cumbersome process each time a new project is started. If a company already has one – good for them. However, creating a new one, especially nowadays, when it’s so hard to find and hire good developers, is usually beyond the possibilities of an average business, not to mention startups. Remember, that a team needs to be well organized and no role can be left vacant. An effective team needs at least:
- Developers (front-end and back-end)
- A technical lead
- Product designers
- A quality assurance engineer
- DevOps engineer
- A product owner
- A project manager
- A project sponsor
Difficult, but with some positives
While it may seem a bit scary, after what’s been said a moment ago, in-house development has a lot of pros that cannot be overlooked. In fact, they are very tempting.
Total control over the process
Working with a team that you have built on your own means that you know each of the members well enough to know who is good at what. You get to decide what they should focus on while learning new things and you personally make sure what tools are at their disposal. Moreover, since your internal team is there to stay and most importantly, is not freshly formed, its members know your organisation, grow with it and understand it. They usually don’t intend to leave the project ASAP and you can be sure that maintaining it after launch will be a breeze. We can even call such compatibility a “cultural fit.”
That’s simple – you have your team within the reach of your walking distance, directly at your headquarters. There is no time-zone difference, no need for calls with a dozen people to coordinate the work, and no cultural differences. And, most importantly, you know each other. As a result, the risk of problems occurring due to miscommunication is minimized.
Do problems overweigh the pros?
Not always, but in most cases, unfortunately, in-house development is not as simple as it seems. In fact, extremely few companies can afford it, and for a number of reasons.
Technology stack vs. internal team
Only the largest companies have enough engineers to be able to form teams capable of working with different technology stacks. And each project is different, each app needs different frameworks and libraries. It leads to a simple question – will you be able to even start the project without recruiting new people? Just think about the costs and time needed to find them and integrate into existing structures! More employees within your organization mean a greater long-term investment.
Every organization has its limitations
There are many obstacles that need to be considered when forming an in-house development team. Can you afford to overcome them without risking the success of the project? The risk may not be worth it. First of all, think about long-term costs. The recruitment process can take up to a few months and you’ll need to sacrifice hours on it. Then, preparing a new employee for work in your company takes resources before they start doing their work. Then, after the project is finished, what will you do with them all? Will you still need a UI designer, after they finish creating the interface? Will you keep them without giving them anything to do? The total cost of full-time employees can be unbearable for small and medium-sized companies.
A better way – outsourcing
Scale up, scale down
Experts at your disposal
It’s obvious that hiring experienced engineers is a pain in the neck. Most of them are already taken. But you know what? Some work for development companies and you can access their expertise any time you need – and only pay for what you need them to do. In fact, most outsourcing businesses have very wide and deep talent pools, so they can start work with any technology you choose immediately. And if they need to hire an additional member, they always have a backup plan in the form of a long list of available coders, designers or testers.
Hiring new employees costs more than their wages. After all, they need office space, equipment, and tools – desks, computers, or coffee machines. Can you afford to expand your headquarters so much without being 100% certain that it will be of any use in the future? You don’t need to even think about it when you outsource the work, as dedicated companies already have existing structures – and they don’t charge extra for it.
Predictability and simplicity
Maintaining an internal team is quite complex from an HR perspective and its costs can be hard to predict from a long-term perspective. However, in the case of outsourcing, you can work with a fixed-price model. The level of predictability it offers is awesome, as it allows you to plan your budgets with a high level of precision. Also, it is very reliable, as experienced companies know the market and technologies, so they can assess the costs of realizing projects well enough to guarantee their clients that they will meet the budgets and time schedules.
Author bio: Jakub Skowron
Content Writer at Code & Pepper. Technology enthusiast, literature devourer, and creator of insightful FinTech-related content. In his spare time, he also works with international public art projects.