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

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly influenced the software engineering job market, leading to a 20-30% decline in job listings since shelter-in-place measures were implemented. As many companies have stalled their recruitment processes due to the current situation, it is evident that the pandemic has left a profound impact. Nonetheless, demand for cyber security specialists and web developers has intensified as organisations hasten to adjust their infrastructures to cloud-based and mobile systems.

Given the current context of uncertainty and change, hiring managers will exercise extra caution when considering permanent hiring. To increase resources without taking on excessive risk, outsourcing has become a favoured choice. With many outsourcing models available, deciding which to use depends on the specific needs of the business.

Outsourcing Software Engineering Tasks

If internal resources are insufficient to meet project deadlines, outsourcing the work to an external firm may be a viable option, especially if cost is the primary concern. However, it is crucial to be aware of the possible risks associated with outsourcing. According to Hackernoon, “many outsourcing companies might accept any criteria, time frames, and budgets without considering the practicality of the task”. It is imperative to keep these potential downsides in mind when contemplating outsourcing key areas of one’s project.

In today’s context of agile development and continuous delivery, collaborative approaches are becoming more prevalent in software development. Rather than relying on one-off deals, long-term partnerships are preferred. After product delivery, it is often necessary for the client’s team to directly interact with the code they have received from the outsourcing firm. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that not all outsourcing firms are equipped to facilitate remote work, resulting in the halt of several projects during periods of national lockdowns.

Collaborating with a Software Developer on a Contractual Basis

In times of economic instability, the benefits of employing a freelance engineer are clear: you only pay for the services rendered, and there are no long-term commitments. Nevertheless, the accompanying risks are equally apparent. As notes, possible drawbacks may comprise inadequate effort, missed deadlines, engineers deserting the project for better-paying prospects, and potential security concerns.

Freelancing agencies exist to oversee teams of competent engineers for various projects. Unlike freelancer rating sites such as Upwork, these agencies operate on a different principle than ‘buyer beware’. Additionally, autonomous recruiting firms offer another option for enterprises seeking to hire skilled professionals on a temporary basis, whether to close a knowledge gap or reinforce development support.

Teams to Enhance Existing Software Engineers

Staff augmentation has become a popular option for organisations hoping to create internal teams promptly and realise their development objectives. This form of outsourcing provides many of the same benefits as hiring full-time personnel, but with less risk. By leveraging staff augmentation services, enterprises can access locales with a high number of skilled engineers, even if there are fewer work opportunities in those areas. Additionally, this model offers complete visibility and authority over the project timeline and workflow, as the augmented staff will report directly to the enterprise. Lastly, given the continuous delivery nature of software development, staff augmentation is the optimal choice for providing ongoing support for critical software.

Turnkey staff augmentation offers businesses an easy and cost-efficient means of partnering with highly-skilled engineers located in different regions. This approach streamlines the process of sourcing, assessing, onboarding, and supporting remote personnel, allowing the company to rapidly expand or shrink according to changing business needs or to transition to new skill sets as needed. Rather than serving as a temporary solution for a single project, this approach offers an opportunity to onboard capable professionals who have already demonstrated their value.

Further Read: In-House vs Outsourced Developers: Which is Better?

Prioritising Quality over Quantity

In this era of unpredictability and flux, reliability and commitment are crucial. If you require a one-time project with a predictable outcome, outsourcing or collaborating with a freelancer can be a feasible choice. However, if your software is the core of your enterprise, it is vital to prioritise quality. Staff augmentation is an excellent option if you seek a partner to help you increase speed and accountable for producing the product that is essential for you to remain competitive. It affords the benefit of avoiding the financial risk and administrative burden typically associated with hiring full-time staff.

For years, Works has delivered a valuable service to numerous companies by supplementing their software engineering teams. Our enterprise partners have profited from the shift to augmented and distributed teams, and their know-how has been captured in the article, ‘7 Strategies for Scaling Your Distributed Engineering Team’.

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