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When To Hire A Third-Party Development Shop

Wondering if hiring an outside development shop might be right for you? It can be a difficult decision. How do you know if you’re making the right choice? Let’s discuss what your options might be, and how to know when hiring third-party developers (like Quick Left!) is the correct move.

You’ve Got Problems. Can Outside Developers Solve Them?

There are a number of reasons why you might be thinking about hiring third-party developers. Here are a few possible problems you’re trying to solve:

  • You’re building a brand new application or product and don’t have your own development team.
  • You want to build something new and you do have a team of developers, but they’re busy working on existing products.
  • You need get development work done more quickly to meet deadlines.
  • You’re trying to hire developers to build or expand your team, but it’s taking too long.
  • You have hard problems that are outside your development team’s area of expertise, or you want to introduce a new technology into your wheelhouse.
  • You have concerns about your developers’ work, and want an unbiased code review or security audit.

Contracting with the right development shop can help you be the hero in tackling any of these problems (plug: Quick Left has helped companies with all of the above). However, coud you tackle these problems without a third-party development shop? Maybe. Let’s explore some of these issues and how to know when it’s a good idea. I’ll also give you an example or two about how Quick Left has helped solve these problems with past clients.

You’re an entrepreneur with a great idea, but no idea how to build it

Let’s say you’ve got an idea for a great app. You’ve explored the market, come up with a business plan, and have a good idea of what your app needs to do. But you have no idea how to get it built! You’ll need development help and most likely design work, too. If you’re new to the world of software, you would probably benefit from some help understanding how applications are built and how to define your MVP (minimally viable product).

One option would be to hire your own team to build it for you. Not being a software developer yourself can make it especially challenging to know who to hire for your development work – there are many different programming languages and ways of doing things, and you want the right fit for your application’s needs. How do you know? Because a good development shop has worked on a variety of types of applications, they will be well-prepared to help you make the right technology choices for what you’re building. In the same way, hiring your own team can also mean that you don’t get the range of expertise that a development shop can offer.

Hiring a development shop like Quick Left gives you the benefit of working with people who help define product focus, who know how to build an MVP of a product (or a 1.0, or a 2.0…), and who’ve figured out how to build great software. At Quick Left, for example, we work with our non-technical clients to teach them best-practices in software development, so that when they eventually hire their own team of developers, they know who to hire and what kind of work to expect from great developers. Think of it as a bonus education that comes along with your new app!

Case Study Examples

Gociety had a great idea but needed help building it. Quick Left built an MVP in 11 weeks! Check out the Gociety Case Study.

Comunidades Unidas Peru (CU Peru) won the Posner Center Poverty Hack. We worked with them to build an SMS system to connect rural communities with health-care providers. Check out the CU Peru Case Study.

Your development team is busy or doesn’t have the experience to make your new idea or initiative a reality

You’re a product owner or maybe even CTO at a software company. Your product is doing well – so well, in fact, that you need more features built! Perhaps you or your boss has an innovative idea, but your team is too busy cranking out all those features and staying on track with development to pull people off to work on something else. Maybe your new idea is different enough that your development team isn’t even sure how to build it properly. Your options here are:

  1. Give up on your new idea.
  2. Hire more developers internally.
  3. Hire a development shop to build it for you.

Giving up on this great idea is not really an option, is it? There’s no way you want to give up the chance to try something that could make your company even more successful! What about hiring some more developers? As we all know, it can take significant time and investment to hire expert developers. Are you ready to put your idea on hold for that long? In addition, hiring your own team implies that you’ll probably keep them around for the long-term. If you’re ready to do that, great! BUT, what if you could get your new idea being built while you’re hiring this new team? Even better! Contracting with a development shop for these kinds of situations lets you get outside expertise that your company may not have, shortens the time you’re waiting for development to start, and, if you’re hiring, gives you the time to hire the right team – not just the quickest team you can assemble. Because development shops can work outside of your normal software process and cycle, we can usually build things more quickly than your own team might. Of course, if you prefer that your development shop team participate in your agile process, that’s definitely something we can do!

Case Studies

This kind of project is where Quick Left developers can really shine. Working with Aetna’s iTriage group, Quick Lefters were able to build new internal and external applications, interfacing with pre-existing APIs. This allowed the iTriage team to remain focused on their own roadmaps and priorities. Aetna iTriage Case Study.

We’ve also done this kind of work for Tendril Energy. While we’ve worked with Tendril in a number of different capacities, one of the projects we completed for them was to complete the initial buildout of a new project using cutting-edge technologies. This allowed them to keep on track with the rest of their work while getting something new and innovative ready for production. Tendril Case Study

You’re having a difficult time hiring

So, you’ve got some developers but need more to meet your goals of getting your app or features built by a deadline. Your team is working hard and can’t keep up. You want to hire more developers, but are having a difficult time hiring. Maybe you’re pushing your team to work even harder to meet those goals. Or, maybe you’re resetting your expectations of when things will be done. If you do nothing, you’ll be faced with missed deadlines. Other potential problems that might be happening:

  • Your existing developers feel overworked, behind schedule, and overwhelmed. Morale is dropping. If things continue, you’ll see your best developers go elsewhere, only exacerbating your hiring problem and making it even harder to ship features.
  • Because your team feels under the gun to get things out the door, they might (will) start taking shortcuts, introducing technical debt and bugs that affect your end users.

These are bad problems. Don’t let them happen! So, what do you do instead? First, you need to step back and really try to understand why you’re having hiring problems and how you can solve them. Second, hire outside help. You’ll get that velocity boost you’re looking for but unable to hire. Do you hire contractors or a development shop? Contractors, whether freelance or via a company, can provide instant staff augmentation. However, going with a development shop like Quick Left will provide more than just staff augmentation. Quick Left provides a service we call “Team Boost”, which means our developers jump onto your teams, participate in your agile process, and work side-by-side with your developers. We won’t just be warming your chairs for eight hours a day. We’ll be engaging with your team, providing ad-hoc training of team members by suggesting best practices, pointing out process problems, and encouraging high-quality, pragmatic code.

Case Studies

Quick Left has definitely been brought in to help sustain and augment velocity when companies have a difficult time hiring in-house. Of course, I’m not going to tell you who those companies are, but just know that when our developers jump into those situations, we’re doing our best to provide both increased development velocity as well as fixing process and culture problems that we see. We’ve done lots of Team Boosts. Check them out on our Case Studies page!

What You’ll Get From Great Third-Party Developers

Let’s be honest: not all development shops are the same quality (or price). In this game, you get what you pay for. A good development shop will help you achieve your goals. A great development shop will also leave a lasting impact on your product, your process, and your code. Do you want a temporary band-aid for your problems, or do you want developers who will help you improve the overall health of your application? The Quick Left Way of engineering prioritizes pragmatic problem-solving, writing high-quality code, and constantly improving what we do. Because we work on different kinds of projects and integrate with different development teams, we’ve learned to recognize problems in both code and in agile process. When we work on your project, our outside perspective helps us to recognize things that could use fixing! If you let us, we’ll help you improve your process, your code, and help your team follow best practices, all while increasing your velocity. We’re not just developers, but evangelists for good code and good process. One more thing to note: when you hire Quick Left to work on your project, you might be paying for the work of one or two developers, but you’re getting the experience and knowledge of our whole engineering team. Because Quick Left has a collaborative culture that emphasizes learning from each other, our collective experience provides an amazing ability to problem-solve in innovative and robust ways.

TL;DR

So, when is it a good idea to hire a development shop like Quick Left? When:

  • You need work done but don’t have the team you need
  • When you have challenges that no one on your team has the capacity or ability to solve
  • You want help making your own development team more efficient and higher quality.

Still not sure if hiring a development shop is the right move? Give us a call and let’s discuss it!