How to Hire a Software Development Agency
Finding and hiring the right software development talent is an in-depth process for many businesses. In this guide, we’ll give you the ins and outs of hiring the best software development agency to fit your business needs.
Modern society is in the midst of the digital revolution. We have shifted from analog electronic technology (i.e., paper filing systems and rotary telephones) to digital computers and digital record-keeping.
However, to stay on top of the latest technology, ways of communicating, and storing data, software development has become a booming industry. In this article, we’ll explore how to hire a software developer that fits your business needs.
What Is Software Development?
According to IBM, “Software development refers to a set of computer science activities dedicated to the process of creating, designing, deploying and supporting software.”
If that sounds vague, that is because it is. Software development runs the gambit of large-scale computing devices to an application you may use on your smartphone. However, for the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on general software that supports small to medium-sized businesses who are looking to create their own software system to differentiate them from their competitors.
What Are The Different Types Of Software Development?
As we stated before, software development can encompass many different things, and it can range depending on who you ask. However, we will focus on seven types of software development:
Front-end developers work on the part of the software that the user interacts and sees. You may have heard of UI or user interface. This is where a front-end developer lives. For example, they might create the layout, visual aspects, and interactive elements of a website or app. They also fix bugs and make certain that the user interface is functioning on all platforms.
The back-end developer does the opposite of the front-end developer. They work on the part of the software that the audience or client cannot see—the back end. This coder or developer builds the infrastructure of the software. Typically when someone thinks of a back-end developer, they think of a coder—someone making sure that all the logic is functioning in a way that seems like magic or a different language to those not practiced.
A full-stack developer is essentially a full-service software developer. They work on the front and back ends of the software. A successful full-stack developer must be versed in all types of development, including customer service, as they must shift between the different types of development and user needs.
Desktop Development is a niche developer that works exclusively on computer operating systems—specifically the desktop. Their focus is to ensure that the application or software functions on the user’s computer.
Web development is another niche developer but instead of focusing on applications or software on the computer, it focuses on websites. Web software and the work that developers do depends on the internet connection.
A database developer is responsible for building the software for a database. They can also modify and design existing programs, as well. Database developers work on ensuring that the database is secure, functional, and easy to use for the user. Note that their role is different from a database developer that maintains the database on a daily basis.
A mobile developer builds applications that run natively on mobile devices, most commonly from smartphones. This is another niche developer, but unlike a web developer (and similar to a desktop developer), the internet is not required for these applications to run. Mobile development is a rising market with the frequent use of smartphones and tablets.
What Type Of Software Developer Do I Need?
The type of software developer that you hire will depend on your business needs. If you are looking to develop an app for a mobile device, then you would pay a mobile developer to create this. If you need to create an application on your website, you would search for a web engineer. However, if your goal is to develop several forms of software for your business, you will look for a full-stack agency.
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Should I Hire An Agency, A Freelancer, Or Handle Software Development In-House?
Now that you have a good grasp of what software development is, you need to decide who to hire to take care of all of that for you. For some, that may mean an in-house team, for others that may mean hiring an agency. Below, we’ve broken down the positives and negatives of either hiring in-house software developers or outsourcing software development teams.
In-House Software Developers
Long-Term Product Development
If you are developing a product or a solution that will require a long-term commitment, then it is better to build a team of developers in-house. Since, they can be fully committed to this product, know it inside out, and easily and quickly make changes or fixes when needed
Aligned Interests And Standards
When hiring any staff, you typically look for people who have similar interests and standards to the company. As a result, in-house developers will usually have a more aligned interest with their employer and understand their standards, which will make working through projects easier.
Company’s Culture Fit
Having an in-house software developer who has baseline capability to do the job, but who “gets” the company culture and standards is usually more productive than trying to work with the best specialists who are a poor fit.
Able To Correct Issues Quickly
Developing a product in-house enables you to monitor all the steps in the process. If something goes wrong, you can spot it immediately. Therefore, the turnaround time in fixing the problem is shorter than it would be in the case of outsourcing.
It takes time to find the right developers and negotiate with them to join your team. Even then there is a possibility that these new hires will not be able to join right away.
Unless your company has a large IT department or an unlimited budget to hire a wide range of coders or software developer professionals, you probably will not be able to cover all your specific needs with dedicated experts.
Limited Funds To Hire New Talent
Hiring new talent costs a lot of money. Do you need an expert with technical know-how on a full-time basis? Will he or she payout in the future, after your project is finished? If not, then an agency or freelancer will be the smarter option.
Hiring a staff member costs money. The time to hire them costs money but so do annual salaries, benefits packages, overhead costs. However, hiring an agency only costs what is agreed upon for your project. All the other miscellaneous expenses are covered by that agency for their employees.
Overload Of In-House IT Resources
If the project that you need developers for is not the core business of the company, such a project could be a huge burden on your IT resources.
Freelance Software Developers
A Fast Approach To High-Quality Resources
The hiring process in-house takes time and resources. Using an agency will save you time and money.
Outsourcing enables you to hire a software developer or agency with a large talent pool for a limited time, according to the requirements of your project or specific business operations.
With outsourcing, you can scale up the team of professionals specialized exactly for that specific project. This will allow you to allocate all resources effectively by ramping up production time while cutting down unnecessary costs.
While you need an expert in a field for a specific project, you probably do not need them permanently. This grants you the flexibility to set deadlines that best align with your project requirements and budget.
Overall Reduced Costs
Outsourcing can get you a high level of productivity at reduced costs. For example, studies show that with outsourcing the savings can be up to 60%.
It is much easier to control the level of quality produced when you can physically approach and speak to your software engineers than to put the vital phases of your project in the hands of someone you have never seen, and then hope for the best.
Software development is a collaborative process. So, hiring freelance software developers from different backgrounds and work cultures can be a huge challenge for mutual understanding of specific requirements.
Commitment To The Project
The developer very likely will not just sit still and wait for your call. Independent software development companies also work with more clients at a time. Meaning that your project may not receive 100% of their commitment.
Security And Confidentiality
Companies face security and confidentiality risks even in-house. A project shared with outsourced resources becomes risky, considering the project’s confidentiality.
Why You Should Hire A Software Development Agency
Unless you own a large business that has resources and funds to hire a software development department, the choice is obvious—outsource your software development needs to an agency or freelancer. The pros outweigh the cons, most importantly the cost.
To effectively run software development in-house, several staffers would have to be hired and even then it is no guarantee that these individuals will have the necessary skills to accomplish the project: leading to delays and costs. By hiring the right agency, you will have the right person or team with the necessary skills to complete your project quickly and efficiently.
Hiring A Software Development Agency
You may have decided that you are ready to hire a software development agency. Now here are some questions and answers that will help guide you with your search:
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Software Development Agency?
It depends on the needs and size of your business. For example, Enterprise-Class consultancies generally have hundreds, if not thousands, of developers and freelancers on staff and generally, work with governments and Fortune 500 companies that can afford their sky-high rates (projects range between $500K-$1M). For the sake of this article, we will focus on the following company types:
“Mid-Market Class” Custom Software Development Companies
- Size: They generally have between 10 to 100 employees and typically work with small and medium-size businesses
- Cost: These companies cost $125 to $175 an hour for projects ranging in size from $50,000 to $5 million
ADDITIONAL MID-MARKET CLASS CONSIDERATIONS
Mid-Market Class consultancies tend to offer the best balance between cost and quality. Given their smaller size, these types of companies can also be a bit riskier than their bigger brothers. You will need to double-check their references and make sure they have successfully completed several projects of a similar size and scope to yours.
“Small Class” Custom Software Development Companies
- Size: They can have between 2 to 10 employees, including the owners of the company, and generally work with startups, local small businesses, and medium-sized regional businesses
- Cost: These companies cost $75 to $175 an hour for projects ranging in size from $10,000 to $500,000
ADDITIONAL SMALL CLASS CONSIDERATIONS
Oftentimes, Small Class development shops will specialize in one specific area, like UI / UX design, eCommerce solutions, or mobile app development, or specific programming languages. Given their small size, team, they only need to take on a couple of projects per year. Do your research to ensure that they are financially stable and have positive online reviews.
How Do I Find A Software Development Partner?
UpCity has this taken care of for you. We have curated a list of agencies that will fit your needs. If you are looking for an award-winning agency, you can also find them here.
Of course, you can also begin with a simple Google search for software development agencies in your local area. And again, this method is similar to using UpCity in that you can compare locations, various specializations, see previous work, etc., and more.
Likewise, take some time to read reviews across many different locations on the web to get a feel for what working with these partners is like and if they might be a good fit with your organization.
And then there’s good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Reach out to your network and ask who they’ve used for their development needs in the past. This is where you’ll likely get the most candid responses, which is important when considering an investment of this magnitude.
What Skills Should I Look For In A Software Development Partner?
Looking for an adequate software development partner goes beyond looking for someone who understands computers. Creating software from scratch, maintaining it, and fixing it as needed require a holistic approach. When researching your options, look at how your candidates’ approach the following:
Ability To Fix Bugs
Issues will likely arise from your software. Whether that is coding that needs to be updated or cleaned up, no new or repurposed software is immune to issues. You want a developer that can recognize and eliminate errors from IT software, hardware, and systems.
Part of the reason that you are choosing to use a software development agency or freelancer, is so that you do not have to hire someone in-house. This means that when the developer is done, the project is done. As a result, your automation will be key so that new capabilities do not need to be constantly updated.
User Interface Design
Since you will be looking to create a piece of software from scratch or repurposing one, you will want a designer that can design a product that can be used! This means that the interface and usability of the software on the front end need to be friendly.
PRO TIP: Look at the agency’s portfolio. If you do not like their designs, do not choose them!
When looking for a software agency, you will want to work with individuals and teams that have experience creating, testing, and then enacting the product into a live environment. Your product is not theoretical, so you want an agency with experience with a system like yours.
Assigning tasks, managing pipelines, identifying roadblocks, and communicating with team members. Project management has become increasingly important in software development. There are many different stakeholders that need to be consulted while creating software.
As a result, there are now two forms of project management: Agile vs Waterfall methods. Take a look at these two methods and decide which you believe would be best for your business. Then ask the agency which they use.
Unfortunately, there are hackers out there. You will want to choose a software development agency that can ensure that the code and functionality of your software is secure from outside forces vulnerabilities.
The backend of a software product will be made of layers and layers of code. You will want to work with an agency or developer that understands and implements a testing method to ensure the code works.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid When Hiring A Software Development Partner?
The approach to hiring a software development agency has the same principles as hiring someone to work at your organization, while you will not be using a job description as part of the process, you will want to have a clear understanding of your needs, skills required, and budget. However, there are some common mistakes that clients have experienced in the past to avoid:
Hiring Too Fast
It is easy to fall into the trap of hiring quickly when you have work that needs to get done. However, creating software from scratch is a process that takes careful thought before execution. If you choose too quickly, you will pay for it in the process.
Hiring For Quantity Or A Good Coder
As we mentioned earlier, choosing an agency or freelancer is a holistic approach. The ideal partner will be skilled in code but project management as well.
Not Sharing Your Company Culture
While you will be outsourcing your software development needs, you still want the agency you choose to believe in your company values and standards. This will lead to seamless communication and quick deliverables.
If you have already made the decision to hire a software development agency, you can expect them to gather information, identify key opportunities, and use the information collected to build out the deliverables.
After signing with an agency, you can expect: