When To Outsource Development & When To Keep It In-House

We’re a digital development company, with an experienced team of developers and designers who build digital products and help you tell your story with your data. But that doesn’t mean that we’re always the right fit for companies who need digital product development. Our team came together to write up a list of when to outsource digital development – and when it’s better to keep digital development in-house.

There are some well-known, proven benefits to outsourcing digital development:


1. Speed to market. If you want to get a strong, polished product to market fast – and capitalize on the first mover advantage – it makes more sense to outsource. You can hire an experienced team, with the diverse skill sets and talent needed, who will follow a proven process to deliver precisely what you need. An outsourced team can start ASAP. The result: your digital product goes live ahead of the competition, earns you revenue faster, and gives you more time to learn and make any refinements needed before the competition is even out of the gate.


2. Lower risk. Often, our clients are deciding between hiring one full-time employee for a year vs. hiring our team. It may feel like a less risky choice to hire one developer, full-time, until you measure the costs of the vetting and hiring process, employee onboarding, payment of healthcare and retirement, and management or supervision. Never mind what happens if it turns out that the person you hired doesn’t have quite the right skill set, or perhaps interviewed well but at the end of the day doesn’t really fit your company’s culture or core values. We won’t talk about the cost of performance plans, documentation, or the legal risk involved with letting someone go (fingers crossed that it never comes to that!)


3. Ease of management. It’s hard to manage a new process, new product, or a staff member with unique or niche expertise. What often happens is that what doesn’t fit gets unintentionally starved of resources and ends up failing because it doesn’t fit with the company’s everyday operations. An outside team understands these challenges and knows how to work with a client’s processes and collaborate with a client’s team for a successful launch.

That said, there are some instances when you definitely should not outsource development:

·        Underutilized resources. If you have experienced developers with time on their hands, put them to work.

·        Flexible timeline. When the digital product isn’t expected to become a competitive advantage and you have the time and resources in-house to create it, keep development inside.

·        Your core strength is your development team.
There are plenty of companies who have been well-funded by investors who want to see a diverse, experienced development team as an intrinsic part of the
company’s value.

·        Fit with core services. If product you’re developing is a critical component of your core services and it fits in your development team’s sweet spot, that’s a no-brainer.

After we created the lists above, we asked our clients to chime in with the less obvious reasons they chose to outsource:

Aligned incentives. An outsourced team is incented to deliver a successful product. Why? When we’re successful, we’re hired for additional products and we get great testimonials and referrals. The incentive of a new hire, though, is to keep their job. To not rock the boat. To “fit” with the company culture. This isn’t a bad thing – but it can be the kiss of death for an innovative digital product that needs to stand out and stand above competition.

Built-in synergies. A professional team that has been working together for years is greater than the sum of its parts. They uncover more powerful insights, actively challenge each other, and build on each other’s ideas. Our clients tell us that our four pillars approach – our unique knowledge of data, technology, business, and design – is what makes us different from other digital product developers and enables us to create more innovative products, faster.

Niche expertise. It can be tempting to hire a less-experienced developer and bank on investing more of that person’s time in the project. But in new product development, nothing replaces depth of expertise and knowledge. It’s expensive to hire the talent you need, full time, in house. Hiring the right combination of experience for a short time by outsourcing may feel risky, but is actually more likely to succeed.

Of course, it’s always up to you to decide. Tell us if you’d like to set up a time to discuss your digital product or prototype to see if we might be a good fit.

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