Software Development Fact: Teams are better than Freelancers

When it comes to developing a digital product, there are generally two ‘traditional’ approaches that come to mind: One involves the long, arduous process of recruiting and hiring a collection of new employees for in-house development, and the other entails cobbling together a one-time project team made of freelancers to get the job done.

The first allows for a technical and cultural fit at time-consuming and bureaucratic costs that typically add more unnecessary work than value, and the second brings speed and liquidity but comes with significant risks of mismatch, conflict, and failure.

For the best of both worlds in getting a project done efficiently – to a high standard with developers who have a proven track record – established software development / tech teams are the only way to go. They’re also easier to find than you may think.

What is a tech team?

A tech team is a group of people that build digital products as part of a boutique software development company or studio and consists of frontend and backend developers, programmers, QA testers, UI/UX designers, system architects and project managers, amongst other roles that all work together to create things like mobile and web apps, IoT systems, web platforms, and cloud computing software. These teams come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be somewhat tricky at the start to narrow things down. However, in Digital Knights’ experience of testing well over 300 teams with countless variables of technologies, processes, and sizes, there is a single framework that shines through the best teams:

On average, the ones worth considering are 30 - 200 people in size, have worked together for 5+ years and have completed over 100 projects (so they are well established and have a really good understanding of how to work together across several industries and technology stacks). Naturally, not every project needs 200 people with every role imaginable, but these teams are equipped to form smaller, tailor-made project teams for the size and type of digital product.

So why choose an established team over a group of freelancers?

Because there is no need to tack on the additional risks of bringing more variables and unknowns into the equation when established teams have proven time and time again that they are just better. Hiring an established team means you get a team that is just that – established, so why bother with chance? There are better ways to gamble money away (and definitely some more fun ones).

Nevertheless, cobbling together groups of freelancers for a one-off project is a strategy that a variety of companies still engage in on a high-risk, high-reward model. The freelancers come together for the duration of the project and try to build whatever product is commissioned, and then they’re all sent packing. While this seems like a logical, easy way to set up a team quickly, people with no previous experience working together is often a recipe for total disaster and project failure as issues arise as they develop processes, workflows, and learn each other’s tools and preferences on the fly. Besides having to figure out how to work together productively, the new group has to figure out how to work with you, most of all. On the flip side, established teams have this sorted out already and can work on solving your problems instead of solving their own problems of how to work together.

Teams are often cheaper

Hiring an established development team is often a cheaper alternative to hiring a group of freelancers when you take into account the full cost and individual overheads of time, money, and energy on top of the initial financial outlay. Freelancers often demand contractor’s rates and the cost quickly adds up, not to mention the effort it takes to recruit and interview decent freelancers! They also need to do their own admin tracking which builds into their fees so you could end up paying for time that isn’t spent working on your project for each member. Established teams can hit the ground running faster as they don’t need to spend time setting things up that they’ve already handled countless times so nothing is lost while they find their groove.

Teams will act as consultants

From suggesting work tools that may bridge the gap while working remotely to suggesting better solutions to the challenge your product is solving, good teams will often act as strategic consultants because of industry expertise. By drawing on past experiences with other projects, they are able to offer advice and direction if they feel there is a more efficient way to do something or a better solution to a problem. Collectively they have more experience than a group of freelancers and will use this to make the project run smoothly and quickly, saving time and money in the long run, but more importantly understanding the product vision and market fit to tackle problems with results instead of just writing code.

Teams are reliable and have a proven track record

Partnering with an established team gives you a project specific working relationship dedicated to you and you alone. The constant availability will ensure that your project is completed to deadline. It is also easier to gauge a fit by checking portfolios of previous projects and examining scopes, deadlines, and final results. Freelancers, however, are often involved in multiple projects at the same time and their own individual impact on previous product outcomes is limited. There’s real added risk when each freelancer’s working hours and personal schedules might have unexpected incompatibilities that disrupt the development cycle.

Teams are a one-stop shop

Hiring an established team also means getting expert advice on the realities of the requirements when it comes to the different positions needed to develop a given project. Then, all those pieces are available in one familiar place. The onus is not on the client to know what roles are required to develop certain projects as the team will be able to advise on this and provide good people for the job once it has been scoped out.

Altogether, while the ‘groups of freelancers’ model was initially a plausible advancement for building digital products in a timely, cost-effective manner, the arrival and availability of on-demand, established tech teams is a definitively better solution. At the end of the day, less variables makes it easier to judge, and it’s easier than ever now that discerning what to look for is far more clear and accessible. It’s time to move on from the headaches and risks of freelancers and embrace verified, established teams as technical partners for your next project.

If you’re an innovating corporation, startup, or enterprise that would like to learn more about using verified, established teams for your next project, get in contact with Digital Knights.

2017 11 14 08: 57: 12 by Digital Knights

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