Should I Outsource My Application Development Project?

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While many companies are able to sustain internal development teams to support their business systems, they don’t always have the capacity or specific experience for every project. Before you task your team with a new project, such as a custom mobile application, or a large enterprise system integration, you may want to consider outsourcing. Although this may not replace your on-going needs for dedicated staff, it may satisfy the needs of a specific project or initiative.

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What is Outsourcing?

According to Entrepreneur.com, Outsourcing is defined as “the practice of having certain job functions done outside a company instead of having an in-house department or employee handle them; functions can be outsourced to either a company or an individual.” This is a way of augmenting an existing technical team and/or lowering costs. Also, depending on the nature of the project, outsourcing might be a viable option to ensure rapid and successful delivery. If your project is larger or more complex than your team’s normal workload, you can temporarily augment their capabilities and your resources with an external team or contracted resources working within your team’s management structure. If the project is small, but specialized, you may be better off having an external expert tackle it quickly than having your personnel learn on the job.

Outsourcing Considerations

There are a number of factors to consider regarding outsourcing development:

  • Availability of required technical resources and the project timeline: This is a fairly obvious consideration. If in-house resources are participating in other projects, you may need to add other developers to meet workload and timeline requirements.
  • Customer’s understanding of requirements: Most customers have a basic idea or goal for an application, but do not always understand the detailed requirements. This can affect the feasibility of using outsourced resources. In one scenario, an outsourced team may have deeper experience in the type of project and, therefore, better able to understand, define and execute on the project requirements. On the other hand, if you do not understand the full scope or need for your project, you may not be ready to commit funds to an external team, as you risk costly changes and unforeseen issues arising.
  • Expected stability of requirements: Related to understanding your project requirements is an assessment of how stable your project requirements are likely to be. For apps that are market-driven, requirements can change frequently over the course of a development project. In this case, using a non – co-located resource may not be recommended, due to the need to respond quickly to changes, and potential communication challenges or delays. However, you may still want to consider going to an external resource to augment your in house team with capacity and specialized capability.
  • Functional or technical complexity: Sometimes app logic is very complicated, or app development requires access to a specific operational data store or customer environment. This can preclude the use of external resources for logistical or security reasons.
  • Cost: This is the driving factor for most outsourced development decisions, and it is a compelling one. In many cases, outsourcing development can cut costs because you may only need the resources on a short term and you eliminate the overhead costs that may be associated with hiring full time personnel yourself. They also may be more affordable due to the internal efficiencies of the outsourced development team, or even their specific locality cost of  living. However, although developer costs can be lower, we generally expect that additional time (and therefore cost) will be incurred for project management, requirements management, and quality assurance during the project. So, it is important to also assess price reasonableness when getting a quote so that you actually get the product and quality you need.

Segue evaluates each app development project and works with our customer to determine the most balanced approached to completing the work. Cost is important, but our primary focus is on delivering quality apps that will satisfy customers’ needs.

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