Contracting in the web and mobile development industry is an interesting business. You get to work with very smart people. You get to work on exciting projects, many of them on the edge of the technology. There is little politics and lots of fun stuff every day! There is a challenge every day!
Over the last five years in this business we have been asked many times by some of our clients what were the advantages in working with an independent shop as opposed to hiring in house resources or working with individual freelancers. The reason being that a lot of the companies nowadays are still to adapt to new shared economy trends and to the new trends in workforce: they are more used with in house employees.
Without pretending I will cover all the aspects, here are some clear advantages to contract out to competent development groups:
1. You get billed for exactly what people are working on
Studies show that your average in house employee effectively works 4-5 hours a day. While billing you for 8 hours of work. A lot of time on site is usually wasted browsing the web, responding to personal e-mails or posting on social media, discussing personal matters around the kitchen table or simply spacing out. We’ve seen it in our 15 years Corporate tenure. It’s a fact that employees nowadays are disengaged.
Contractors on the other hand will strictly bill you for the time they spend on tasks while proving tangible results and progress. So if they work 5 hours on a task they will bill you for 5 hours. And they are generally very experienced developers who deliver faster and better than your average employee. Contractors generally deliver at the velocity and quality of your Senior Developers / Architects / CTO.
2. You are in control of scaling up and down
Your project may not be a (very) long term project or based on your business model you may not have years of continuous projects. In these kinds of situations it is a very good idea to contract out professional contractors as they have a built-in ability to scale teams up and down seamlessly.
It would be harder to do this with in house employees without affecting the company’s morale by letting employees go, then re-hiring etc.
3. You do not have to pay benefits
A lot of companies these days advertise their benefits: providing health insurance, 401k plan matches, paid vacations, providing personal and floating days off etc. cost you as a company money.
When you work with people like us we will not ask for those benefits. Because we can purchase our own.
4. You get competitive rates out of experienced, solid programmers
Nowadays contractors generally bid competitive rates. Many times you can get a better overall project rate from a contractor at a better quality of the deliverable than from an employee. Remember: the contractor has a lot of experience, he/she will do things fast so the # of hours spent on a project will be much more important then the hourly rate!
5. You get freebies that an in-house employee cannot offer
When you involve experienced contractors (like us) many times you get a lot of freebies that the company is not even going to bill for. Some of them include business consulting and advice, product management recommendations, relationships with local and national tech investors etc.
Employees cannot generally offer any of these as they do not have expertise or connections in these directions.
6. You can run your niche projects with more flexibility
Sometimes there are projects with more constraints than others. They maybe budgetary constraints, staff constraints or internal policies constraints. Independent contractors are generally more suitable for these types of assignments than in-house employees as they can offer flexible and creative solutions that are generally out of the reach of a staff employee- mainly due to the lack of decision making abilities of employees. We definitely have case studies to illustrate this concept and we have been retained in projects that we successfully delivered as independent contractors and it would been virtually impossible to deliver those projects with in house employees. Ask us about our case studies.
7. You can easier implement modern processes and technologies
The rule of thumb is that generally independent contractors are easier to adapt to a certain companies culture and way of operating than staff employees. Another aspect is that independent contractors generally easier implement modern concepts like agility, continuous deployment and testing, development drive testing hence they are more prone to shorten the life cycle and generate more ROI.
8. You get more accountability
You get much more accountability and attention from an independently run shop. Employees are individuals. If something does not work out, they will leave your company and go get another job. An owner operator of a software development company will take care of your project like it’s his/her own project. It is his/her mission to deliver on time and budget to generate more business from you and your referrals.
Another aspect of this is that fact that an independent contractor will never take a job that he/she know he/she cannot deliver. It is his/her professional reputation at stake and, while employees can sometimes mask their failures, established companies are generally known locally and in tight circles: their reputation is everything for them.
9. You get higher loyalty
Contrary to the popular belief that contractors “work for themselves”, you will generally get much more loyalty from a contractor than from your average employee. Your average employee will spend a couple of years with you, do what is necessary to get by, apply to all the possible raises and benefits and progress a bit in his own expertise and in his career. Then he/she will leave to get another better paid job. Studies show that most of the software development employees in the US spend between 2 and 5 years with a company and rarely longer than that.
A contractor is interested in you being his/her client for life (or until they retire for that matter). A contractor wants to grow his business by getting more and more projects from you and your referrals and involve more and more people from his/her shop in your business. So if everything goes okay, a contractor will not leave: he will be there for you.
10. You get better pre and after delivery support
Unless you are a very small start-up and you can find very competent friends to be your business associates as well, it is from my experience generally hard to have in house employees wear multiple hats and do things like pre-sales and after sales support as good as they do web and mobile development for example. The reason is that employees generally prefer confined roles where they feel they are the best and can deliver most of their expertise. I am not saying employees like that do not exist: they do but they are hard to find.
Contractors on the other hand are generally experienced developers who already went through the whole rodeo (and a lot of them multiple times). They can deliver excellent pre and after sales support as well and, depending on their industry of expertise, many times they can play product managers and business analysts as well. Independent contracting companies many times can also provide Project Managers, Architects, Release Managers, SCRUM Masters, Tech Support, DevOps and QA.
Make it a great day!
Miami Beach, FL
P.S. If you were wondering what’s up with this picture with strawberries, here is my explanation: contracting web developers is fresh and sweet!