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2021 Guide to Outsourcing Web Development

I’ve been outsourcing my web development to ScrumLaunch for nearly 4 years.

I previously worked with a half dozen web development contractors and every relationship failed. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and this is my attempt to share my learnings with you so you don’t have to suffer through the same mistakes.

Not only have I saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs, but I’ve learned a lot about what makes a good web development company and how to maximize the return.

Outsourcing web development can be risky if you don’t know what to look for.

However, if you know how to use it effectively it will not only reduce your costs, but also will allow you to develop a more agile product, scale your capabilities faster, reduce the burden for hiring internally, and result in a superior product.

This guide will cover everything I’ve learned about outsourcing our web development over the last 4 years. If you’re seriously considering this approach, I encourage you to book a free time with ScrumLaunch to learn how they go about their process so you have something to compare it to when scouting other firms.

The high-level ideas I’ll address in this post are:

THE BIGGEST ADVANTAGES OF OUTSOURCING WEB DEVELOPMENT

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably thinking, “Should I outsource my web development project?”

For most people, the answer to this question is a resounding yes. Here are the biggest advantages:

This guide will cover everything I’ve learned about outsourcing our web development over the last 4 years. If you’re seriously considering this approach, I encourage you to book a free time with ScrumLaunch to learn how they go about their process so you have something to compare it to when scouting other firms

1. Cost Savings

This is the most obvious answer, but it’s also the most important - and there are more cost-savings than meets the eye.

Of course, you will pay an hourly rate for outsourcing that is likely lower than what you’d pay for an internal software engineer. Most U.S.-based developers cost $200K+ per year. However, one cost component I hadn’t considered the benefit of was that outsourcing would eliminate my need to find, attract and hire talent internally.

Hiring internally is wicked expensive. And, it doesn’t always work out.

By outsourcing your project, you not only save on the cost of developing the project itself, but it’s incredibly easy to scale the number of developers on your team up or down as needed. The web development company takes the entire HR component off your plate, not only saving lots of time and money but also enabling you to reallocate that time to the project itself.

2. Scalability

I spoke to this advantage above from a cost perspective, but scaling a team on demand is crucial. Importantly, scaling can be done in either direction - up or down.

For example, perhaps you just thought of a new feature to build and you want to rush ship it in time for an important launch date. Your web development company should be able to easily scale the size of your team for the time required to meet that deadline. After the fire drill is over, you can scale back down to your normal size. We’ve done this at least a dozen times over the years with ScrumLaunch, and it’s crucial to our success.

3. Adaptability

When we first started building our company, we thought we should be a mobile app….

Spoiler alert: we were so wrong!

However, we were under this impression for at least 4 months. Had we hired internally instead of outsourcing at that time, we would have been stuck with a team of iOS and Android developers. For a number of reasons, this would have likely bankrupted the company.

Instead, once we identified why we were better off building a web app, we simply met with ScrumLaunch and restructured our entire team to build a ruby on rails web-first application.

We changed the direction of the entire project and company in minutes.

4. Rapid Develpoment Time

All the above advantages culminate in a key benefit: extremely efficient product development and launches.

Because the HR component to hiring and sourcing talent is taken care of, you can start immediately. Likewise, because costs are lower, you can easily pivot the project as needed and reduce development time.

We had our project live and running (with full registration functionality, video uploading/storage/hosting/streaming/etc, and other key features) in under 8 weeks. From there, we were off the races.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF OUTSOURCING WEB DEVELOPMENT?

There are thousands of web development companies to choose from all over the world, many of which come with a lot more risk than others.

There are a few things to look for that will dramatically reduce your risk, though.

First, if a web development company does not have an operational presence in the United States, then they are inherently riskier than shops based abroad (in my opinion). Generally, the most reliable companies I’ve seen are operated from the United States but write code abroad. You can rest easy knowing these companies are using US bank accounts, abide by our rules and regulations, and you’ll have more recourse options if you need them.

Additionally, if the company is not proficient in English then the project is doomed to fail from the start. Clear communication is crucial when outsourcing a web development project. Many of the subtle components of your projects will get lost in translation if you don’t have a native English speaker to relay information to.

Lastly, look for a good track record by asking to speak with some current clients. Happy clients are the biggest testament to the company’s product or service.

(That’s why me writing this post says a lot about ScrumLaunch :) )

You want to find a company that not only has a proven track record with multiple clients but also works in all areas of software development (e.g. PythonRubySwift, etc.).

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO OUTSOURCE WEB DEVELOPMENT?

If you wanted to find developers for $5/hour, you probably could...and they’d likely suffer from all of the risks outlined above.

The cost is going to be dependent on a few factors. For example, iOS engineers are usually more expensive than python developers.

I think one of the biggest benefits of outsourcing is the ability to directly control and scale costs. If this is your first project, perhaps you just want one or two developers working on it to test out the relationship. The cost of the project will be directly proportional to the number of developers working on it. Therefore, you should be able to build whatever project you can imagine with whatever monthly budget you have in mind. The number of developers you allocate to it from the start will determine the speed at which it’s developed.

As a general rule of thumb, I wouldn’t hire an outsourced web development company unless it were saving me at least 70% of the cost of hiring internally.

WHEN TO OUTSOURCE VS. HIRING INTERNALLY

I think outsourcing is almost always the best path forward (especially for new projects that are still pivoting constantly), with a few exceptions.

Building Advanced Technologies

If you are building extremely advanced technology, like self-driving cars, you probably need a level of sophistication that is best suited for hiring internally.

Secretive projects

There may also be components of your project that you want to build internally because they are especially important. In that case, maybe you have an internal developer manage that piece of the project while you outsource the less important parts.

HOW TO HIRE AN OUTSOURCED WEB DEVELOPMENT COMPANY

Find web development companies that have a US presence, like ScrumLaunch

Evaluate the company’s current project portfolio and look for similar projects to yours

Speak with a few current clients that the company has

Select your web development company

You can start small with just a few developers to test your project, the relationship, and quality of work

Scale as needed!

Hopefully this guide covered some new ideas and concepts for you. If you’re in the market for an outsourced web development company, I encourage you to book a consultation with ScrumLaunch to learn more about their different services and capabilities.

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Maryna Kharchenko

06/15/2022

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