The question of in-house vs. outsourced software development is something only you yourself can answer. With so many variables, personal preferences, and pros and cons in play, the only right answer is the one that’s right for you.
So how do you decide? Start by looking within. Ask yourself what’s important, what your priorities are, and what kind of time and resources you’re willing to devote. Be honest, and be realistic. Then, weigh the pros and cons of your various options against those needs and priorities.
Distillery has put together a guide to help you weigh some of the most crucial variables in your decision-making process. This blog provides an overview highlighting some of the high-level considerations. Click here to access the complete guide, which provides a much more comprehensive look at the countless considerations involved in making this important decision. Our complete guide also includes guidance on choosing an outsourcing partner and links to other helpful resources.
When Is In-house the Right Option?
Going in-house may be the right option for you if the following are true about your business:
- You have the resources to recruit and hire the development staff required to build your product. Typically, a development team requires a minimum of six professionals filling disparate roles.
- You want full control over each and every detail of your software project.
- You want in-house staff available for 100% of your post-launch development needs.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Going In-house?
Let’s start with the pros:
- It can be less expensive. Depending on your situation, however, this may or may not be true.
- You can build your team from the ground up.
- You’re assured of a fully dedicated team.
- You have the highest level of control over product vision and direction.
When considering these pros, however, it’s important to remain mindful of the potential cons:
- You have to compete for top design and development talent — talent that’s in high demand.
- You have to find professionals with the right skill sets. Do you have a strong grasp on the expertise required?
- You’ll incur significant costs (e.g., recruiting, hiring, compensation, benefits, office space, company-specific training).
- You need to worry about the potential impact of losing team members mid-project.
- You need to ensure you can scale your team sustainably.
When Is an Outsourced Team the Right Option?
Engaging a fully outsourced team may be the right option for you if some of the following are true:
- You’d prefer a pre-assembled team that includes everyone you’ll need for the project.
- You don’t have the time to shepherd the whole process yourself.
- You want a team guaranteed to have prior experience on similar projects.
- You don’t want any last-minute scrambling to find the experts you need.
- You’d benefit from working with a partner that can guide your process.
- You only need assistance with a portion of your project, or it’s only a short-term project.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using an Outsourced Team?
Again, we’ll start with the pros:
- Development doesn’t take up as much of YOUR time.
- You know your team will work well together, as they’ve likely worked together before.
- Your team’s process experience means more efficient, cost-effective development.
- You’ll have access to top talent that may not otherwise have been available.
- You can quickly scale your team up and down as needed.
- You benefit from diverse perspectives that can help you innovate.
Bear in mind, however, that there are cons worth weighing against these benefits:
- You’ll have less control over day-to-day work.
- Any development partner will be simultaneously contracted on other projects.
- Capabilities for long-term support vary.
- Outsourced professionals have to invest time learning about your business. Though many outsourcing partners (including Distillery) have processes that expedite onboarding, it’s an expense worth considering.
Before deciding, it’s time to ask yourself a few more questions, as their answers may give additional weight to some of the pros and cons listed above. After all, your project doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Instead, it’s an important component within the bigger picture of your business.
Accordingly, answer the following questions about your strategic objectives, priorities, future plans, goals, and internal capabilities:
- What are your goals and expectations for the product you’re building? What does success look like for you?
- What platforms are you launching on? How does that impact the skill sets required?
- In which geographies are you launching? How does that impact the skill sets required?
- How much support do you need now, a year from now, and five years from now?
- Are you a technical or a non-technical company? Where are your knowledge or personnel strengths and gaps?
After carefully weighing these considerations, which path is right for you? Again, the answer depends on the variables specific to your business. For some companies, going in-house is the right answer. For others, an outsourced team is the most effective, efficient way to achieve their goals.
For yet others, it’s worth considering a third option: using a combination of in-house and outsourced resources. Many outsourcing partners (including Distillery) offer a co-sourcing option, wherein you can use their top-tier senior engineers to augment your existing in-house team for as long as you need them. This model offers its own compelling set of benefits, including the following:
- Increased access to top talent
- Reduced risk for your business, given no long-term commitments
- Increased control over day-to-day process, strategy, and creative vision
- Competitive edge, given diverse perspectives that help drive innovation
- Increased staffing flexibility as your budget, plans, needs, and priorities change
Whichever path you choose, make certain your new outsourcing partner and/or in-house employees are well-equipped to help you move your business forward. They should be well-versed in your business objectives, and committed to ensuring your long-term success. Remember: The only right answer is the answer that’s right for you. If someone is trying to tell you otherwise, they may only be focused on their own success.
Still have questions about which path is right for you? Check out our complete decision-making guide.
We also invite you to call on us for help! We’d be happy to walk you through the pros and cons as they relate to your specific project. We’re always honest and transparent about our capabilities, so if we’re not the right answer for you, we’ll tell you that upfront! Your success is our purpose.
Product Manager Andrew Reinstein has been with Distillery since 2015. With a background in business, user experience, and product strategy, Andrew brings a balanced perspective to product development focused on addressing the needs of the business as well as the user. A Certified Scrum Master, he loves the process of creating a new product from nothing more than an idea. In his free time, he loves trying new foods (he’ll eat just about anything), traveling (Greece is a favorite, and Iceland is next), watching sports (NFL, MLB, NBA), and spending time with his family.