7 Tips for Stress-free Software Development
collaboration / communication / business strategy / mobile development / web development / startups
Let’s imagine you have a great idea for a digital startup. It can be a mobile application, a web portal, or any other digital product. One way or another, you will need a team of professionals to bring your idea to life. Speaking of a digital startup, we are talking primarily about developers, testers, designers, and marketers.
There are three basic options here – hiring agencies, gathering an in-house team, or using freelancers’ services. In order to make the material as clear as possible, we have chosen the question-answer format.
When it makes sense to outsource and when it is better to do it in-house?
Let’s try to figure out what advantages each option has, and which one is better to choose.
In-House crew Advantages
- The main advantage of an in-house crew is its physical presence next to the CEO of the firm. If entrepreneurs attach great importance to personal and visual control over employees, then this is a choice for them.
- In addition, the convenience and level of communication with such a crew are much higher, since CEO can arrange live meetings to dispute all pressing problems and the upcoming modifications.
- Fast feedback from the crew and processing of this data allows business owners to speed up the solutions implementation.
- Most often, an in-house crew consists of citizens of one country, who, in addition to language, are also united by religious, political, and other views. This homogeneity avoids many of the barriers that can arise between people.
- After all, one in-house crew is more likely to adopt the feelings that an entrepreneur puts into his project, to become a part of it. It is very difficult to get hired employees to have such an attitude towards your product.
Outsourcing Team Advantage
- The main advantage of outsourcing is that such services are usually provided by specialized companies that have made a certain direction with their main work profile. Thus, a good team of truly powerful specialists can be concentrated in such a company. Hence the opportunity to receive much higher quality and specialized services.
- The product owner can concentrate exclusively on business tasks. All questions related to employee compensation, insurance, education, and office are taken over by the agency.
- Reduced risk as specialists working on the project aren’t native employees and can be quickly replaced. In addition, the relationship with the agency is simple and, if necessary, the CEO can complete its cooperation with them quickly enough (usually, in a month term).
- Outsourcing is fast. In fact, it is enough to contact the required company, schedule a meeting, at which several people will be present and the development will begin the next day.
- An outsourcing team doesn’t need to be assembled piece by piece. Simply put, this team is already assembled, it works together and it has completed cases that CEO can familiarize itself with. Such factors increase the trust of the team, and how quickly the work can get started. If such a team needs to be assembled, the business owner will not waste time on it – the agency will undertake all the hiring and recruiting work.
- By choosing to outsource, an entrepreneur avoids the risks associated with the fact that specialists may not have a sufficient level of skills. The real level of outsourcing teams can be assessed by quality indicators and they are obliged to do their job exactly as agreed and on time.
Summarizing the up-written, we can come to the conclusion that both models satisfy the needs of entrepreneurs. However, choosing to outsource has a number of undeniable advantages. In addition to the trust, speed, and responsibility mentioned above, it is important to understand that budgeting with outsourcing teams is also easier. In a nutshell, the entrepreneur negotiates certain finances and the development is carried out within the framework of this budget. Any going beyond is predictable and understandable.
Finally, by working with an outsourcing team, the product owner can deploy the product faster. When working with a startup, deployment speed is a factor of great importance.
Who to hire – an agency or freelancer?
Conversations about which option is better – a software agency or freelancers, have been going on for a long time. As elsewhere, each option has its fors and againsts, which we offer you for consideration.
Benefits and drawbacks of collaboration with freelancers
- Freelancers are a good option for small projects and short-term tasks. The main plus of freelancers is that they are readily available on freelancing platforms. Therefore, working with a freelancer can start almost immediately, the main thing is to discuss working conditions and deadlines. If an entrepreneur has a small specific task, then a freelancer is an ideal option.
- Lower costs. It all depends on the details, but in most cases, the rates of a freelancer will be lower than agency services.
- Freelancer behavior can be fluid. So, it happens sometimes when a freelancer can become unavailable or switch to another project.
- Difficulties with support. After the completion of the work, freelancers switch to new projects, and therefore it can be difficult to plan a support program with them and set up effective communication.
- Low guarantees of the required quality. Often, agencies pay more attention to the quality of their services, as they value their reputation. When working with freelancers, you will need to take more actions to ensure the quality you require. For example, develop a detailed contract with clearly defined tasks and responsibilities, which the freelancer will be ready to sign.
Benefits and drawbacks of collaboration with agencies
Agencies, by their very nature, are more suitable for working on long-term and large projects or tasks.
- Scaling. In other words, you can start collaborating with fairly simple objectives, but this does not limit you at all. If the crew, the project, and the business as a whole expand, the agency will be able to expand the range of its services and the collaboration will continue without interruption.
- The agency assumes responsibility for the quality of the services provided. In addition, support during the work and after its completion is also higher than in the case of freelancers. They value their reputation and therefore are not interested in disappointing their client.
- Finally, working with agencies implies additional trust and confidence stipulated in the contract. Agencies are legal entities that undertake certain obligations, for example, to complete work on time. They undertake to invest in the agreed budget and time, and any risks are calculated in advance and invested in the cost.
- In most cases, all members of the agency’s team are located in one place and work together for a while. Therefore, their communication is more agile and in general, they work more smoothly, reducing the risk of issues.
- Agencies are not a particularly viable option for working on short-term tasks, in view of the fact that the registration of such work may take more efforts than the work itself, and therefore it simply does not make sense.
- Also, the cost of agency services can be higher in the short term than the rates of freelancers. This is true, however, at a distance, and in terms of the final quality, agencies still win over freelancers by a wide margin.
To sum up, agencies and freelancers are simply good for different tasks. There is no point in contacting an agency for a short-term task. That’s when a freelancer is your choice. But, if you are in the mood for long cooperation and if your idea involves various specialists and teams, then the agency is what you need. In addition, in larger projects, appropriate finances are involved, and in such a situation it is crucial to cooperate with a party that provides guarantees and values its reputation.
How to ensure source code IP rights?
The written code, like any other product, is a subject of Individual Property. It is the question of who will own the rights to this code after the elaboration is completed.
Many software agencies take this issue into account and completely pass the ownership to the code to their clients. However, in order to be sure of this, you must always separately articulate this issue, and the sooner the better.
In order to understand how to secure your code and ownership, you must understand what kind of code exists in nature. Most often, all project code can be divided into three main categories – unique code, pre-existing code, and open-source (available to everyone) code.
- The ownership of the unique code belongs to the party that created it, e.g. to the agency. However, for the most part, these rights are passed under the terms of the agreement to the end consumer.
- The open-source code can be used without any licensing. However, there are different situations, and therefore we advise you to carefully study the specific open-source you use for any restrictions.
- Pre-existing code is something that the IT vendor has created earlier to use in its projects. They can use such code for other projects, including yours, but software companies can not pass the ownership of this code to another party, as they may need it in the future. The best option here would be to settle a license for this code.
Also, to ensure additional security, you should regularly conduct an IP audit with the help of legal services from the outside. In addition, all records regarding the code creation should be kept until the last days of the product’s existence.
Can a developer disappear right after receiving the money?
In order to be safe from such sad consequences, you need to take several measures in advance. You need to check with whom you work and develop contracts that imply legal obligations. After that, all work needs to be broken down into milestones, from small to more complex. In this case, payment will also be carried out in stages, so developers will not have the motivation to abandon you. After all, it’s not worth transferring all the money until you get the final result.
In addition, in the T&M model, you can pay after the fact for the work performed. Also, don’t forget about trial periods, so that you can make sure that the specialist performs his tasks efficiently.
To ensure that this pay-per-work-done system will work, you need a reliable arbitrator. This service is called Escrow. Its essence is as follows, both sides of the process conclude and sign an agreement where the development is divided into small stages. All these documents are sent to escrow, and then the workflow goes like this:
- The client must send the entire cost of the work to the Escrow account. This money will stay there until the developer reports that all tasks have been completed.
- The client checks the completed work and informs the Escrow that the work has been done satisfactorily.
- Finally, Escrow sends the finances for the work done to the developer.
For the client, this eliminates the possibility that the developer will disappear with the money. For the developer, in turn, this is a guarantee that the client is solvent.
How to ensure that time and cost estimation is adequate?
In order to be convinced of the adequacy of the assessment, you must decide on the collaboration approach – Fixed Price or Time & Material.
Fixed price. With this form of cooperation, it is necessary to ensure that both parties fully understand the entire scope of the further work. Start with the Discovery phase, during which all demands are clarified, wireframes are drawn and technical investigations are carried out. This makes it possible to create the correct estimate. This estimate should be as detailed as possible and broken down into small tasks. Thanks to such detail, the client will be able to understand whether the estimate is adequate for each small task and the job as a whole.
Time & Material. Here, it is all about hourly rates. In order to make sure of their adequacy, you can compare them with the rates on the market in this region. A good piece of advice here is not to seek out cheap specialists, as the quality of their actions is also likely to be low. In addition, don’t forget that people work at different speeds, and therefore a more expensive specialist can do the job faster and ultimately turn out to be cheaper than a low-rate developer who will spend a lot of time. Therefore, a good strategy in this model would be to start cooperation on the sly with something small and gradually build up the team.
What work approach is better for me?
These are the two main collaboration approaches that are common in the industry. . Both have their own characteristics, as well as advantages and disadvantages. In order to figure out which of the methods is better for you personally, we suggest that you evaluate their main diversities.
The Fixed Price (FP) model is good in cases when all parties clearly see the entire scope of development and need a clear forecast for the finances. However, the FP model requires more preparation time, and the start of development can be delayed because every task and process must be discussed, evaluated, and validated. Further, any change will also take more time. Also, in such a model, all the risks remain with the developers, so their side is likely to be followed by a proposal to slightly enhance the final estimate due to possible issues and risks.
Time and Material (T&M) is good exactly when the full scale of development is unknown, and the work itself must be started immediately. It is also your choice if the subsequent tasks are not obvious and no one can predict how and when they will appear. Still, you can plan, for example, a monthly budget, but the total estimate and scale of work will still remain approximate. Hence the obvious rule that all FP projects switch to the T&M model after the main work is over and the support stage begins.
What will suit me most?
It all depends on the features of the project. For a product where there is a specific task that is clearly described and everyone is sure how long it will take to develop it, the FP model is better suited. Faster tasks without understanding the complexity of the entire project is a situation for the T&M model.
How to make sure developers don’t mess up the process?
- Be careful when choosing specialists, be they freelancers or agencies. Study as much of the information available: look for feedback, see their ratings on the companies listing, talk with their previous clients, etc.
- Clearly define and describe your goal. Developers love the accuracy and the more accurately and in detail the task is described, the more likely it is to get a decent result in the end.
- Sign the written agreement. This is a purely legal decision that formalizes your relationship with developers to create a clear line of dependency and responsibility.
- Have a plan and roadmap of upcoming development – do milestones, planning, demos.
- Set up plain communication with the team so that you regularly receive updates regarding their status.
- Set up a system of intermediate goals and KPIs to ask developers about their transitional success.
It is ok to be nervous starting a collaboration with new people and trusting your idea in somebody’s hands, but with proper preparation, choosing the right partner, and doing all the necessary precautions, software development can be an easy and stress-free process!
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