Complementing Existing Employees vs. Contracting Out Software Development Work in Uncertain Times

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the software engineering job market, with listings having decreased by 20-30% since the implementation of widespread shelter-in-place directives. It is apparent that many companies have suspended their recruitment processes in light of the current crisis. Additionally, there has been a sharp rise in the demand for cyber security specialists and web developers as organisations rush to adapt their infrastructures to mobile and cloud-based systems.

In the current climate of unpredictability and transformation, hiring managers will be particularly judicious when it comes to taking on new members of staff on a permanent basis. When faced with the requirement to increase resources without incurring excessive risk, outsourcing is a popular option. There are various types of outsourcing models available, so the decision of which to opt for is dependent upon the individual requirements of the business.

Contracting Out Software Engineering Tasks

When internal resources are insufficient to complete a project on time, it may be advantageous to outsource the work to an external company. This option may be particularly attractive when cost is the primary concern. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with outsourcing. As Hackernoon puts it, “many outsourcing firms might agree to any criteria, time frames, and budgets without considering the actual feasibility of the task”. It is essential to be mindful of these potential pitfalls when deciding to outsource certain aspects of a project.

In the contemporary landscape of agile development and continuous delivery, collaborative efforts are becoming increasingly prominent when creating new software. Rather than relying on transactional engagements, long-term partnerships are preferred. Once the product has been delivered, it is usually necessary for the client’s team to interact directly with the code sent by their outsourcer. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that not all outsourcing companies are capable of facilitating remote workers, leading to the termination of numerous projects during periods of national lockdown.

Work with a Software Developer on a Contract Basis

In times of economic instability, the advantages of hiring a freelance engineer are evident: you are only paying for the specific task that needs to be completed and there are no lasting commitments. However, the potential risks associated with this approach are just as apparent. According to, some of the potential problems that can arise include insufficient effort, missed deadlines, engineers abandoning the project in pursuit of more lucrative opportunities, and security issues.

Freelancing agencies exist to facilitate the management of teams of qualified engineers for a range of projects. These agencies are separate to freelancer rating websites such as Upwork, which operate under the ‘buyer beware’ principle. Meanwhile, independent recruitment firms are a viable alternative for businesses looking to hire highly skilled professionals on a temporary basis to fill knowledge gaps or provide additional development support.

Teams to Supplement Existing Software Engineers

Staff augmentation has become a popular choice for organisations looking to quickly build internal teams and achieve their project and development goals. This method of outsourcing provides many of the same benefits as hiring full-time employees, but without the risks associated with doing so. By utilising staff augmentation services, enterprises can tap into areas where talented engineers are abundant, yet job opportunities are scarce. Additionally, this approach offers complete transparency and control over the project timeline and the direction of the work, as the augmented staff will report directly to the enterprise. Finally, due to the nature of continuous delivery, staff augmentation is the best option for providing long-term support for mission-critical software.

Turnkey staff augmentation offers businesses a convenient and cost-effective way to collaborate with highly-qualified engineers located in different regions. This approach simplifies the sourcing, vetting, onboarding, and supporting of remote employees, allowing the company to quickly scale up or down with the changing needs of the business or switch to a new set of skills as required. Rather than acting as a quick fix for a single project, this method provides an opportunity to bring on experienced professionals who have already proven their worth.

Related Article: Should You Hire Developers in-House or Outsource Them?

Focusing on Quality Rather than Quantity

In this era of uncertainty and change, it is essential to have dependability and dedication. If you are looking for a one-off project with a standardised outcome, outsourcing or working with a freelancer may be a viable option. However, if your software is the foundation of your business, it is important to invest in quality. Staff augmentation is a great alternative if you are looking for a partner to help you increase velocity and be responsible for developing the product that is necessary for you to remain competitive in the market. It provides the benefit of not having to assume the financial risk and administrative load that is often associated with hiring full-time employees.

For years, Works has provided a valuable service to hundreds of companies by augmenting their software engineering teams. Our business partners have benefited from the transition to distributed and augmented teams, and their experience has been documented in the publication, ‘7 Tactics for Growing Your Distributed Engineering Team’.

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