If you are new to software development and wondering how you go from idea to software, there are really three basic approaches. You can hire a single person, you can hire a software project team that you manage, or you can outsource the entire project to a software firm.

The one that makes the most sense for you really depends on your situation. This article discusses the pros and cons of each approach and the types of projects that are most suitable for each.
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Hire A Developer

Hiring an individual developer is great if you have a small project or a limited budget for your project.  When you hire a single developer, you will want to look for someone who is a ‘full-stack’ developer, also known as an end-to-end developer, assuming you want someone who can create an entire app or website for you.  This is because, with only one person, you will need he or she to perform all functions of a software project:

  • Design the user interface
  • Architect the application
  • Develop the user interface
  • Develop the business logic
  • Create the database
  • Develop the database access layer
  • Write test cases
  • Create builds
  • Create reports

On the plus side, you get to work very closely with an individual and there is less management overhead.

On the negative side, the speed at which your project is finished really depends on how fast your developer can interpret your requirements and create code. Because you are placing several roles on one individual, there may be times when you need to fix software issues AND add new functionality.

Your developer will only be able to do one at a time so prioritizing his or her tasks will be important.

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Another challenge with a single developer is that all your eggs are in one basket. If your developer decides to take another job, you will need to hire someone else and transition the software knowledge to the new resource.

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Hire A Software Team

If you would like to have more capacity than a single developer and prefer to keep your software project in-house, you can hire a development team.

The great thing about your own development team is you can control the size and resource roles based on your software development needs.

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Is your project web or mobile? Is there a heavy emphasis on the user experience and creative design? Is there a lot of data analysis? Is there a lot of integration with third party tools or customization to each of your client’s needs?

The downside of a team vs. a single developer is that you will need to add in management. It is a good idea to hire a project manager or developer manager to prioritize tasks, remove obstacles and keep the team productive.

Hire a Software Firm

If you have a larger sized project, or would rather not take on the management of internal developer(s), then you may consider hiring a software development firm.  A software firm will have all the resources you need to design, architect, build and test your software application.

You can contract a single resource or an entire team for as long as you need them. Unlike hiring a developer, you will only be charged for the time each resource works on the project, rather than paying a full-time employee whether you have work for him or not.

Because of their experience in delivering a wide variety of software solutions, a software firm will be able to guide you to different approaches and ideas for your application. This is less likely with an individual developer or an in-house team.

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With your own developer or development team, you will need to create processes for code quality, code management, software builds, and deployment. Software development firms tend to be more efficient out of the gate because they already have tried and tested processes.

But because of their experience, efficiency, and value-add, software firms will charge a higher hourly rate than you might pay a full-time developer.

For more information about hiring a software firm, you can read:

Project Duration

Another factor worth considering is how long you will need software development resources. Will you have on-going work for them, or is it a short-term project?

For a short-term project, it makes sense to hire a software firm to provide the right resources for just the amount of time you need.  You will avoid the recruiting time and costs, the ramp up and the effort to create development processes and methodologies.

For a longer-term project, you could go either way: hire a single developer, a development team, or continual contract with a software firm as you design, develop and support your application.

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Conclusion

In this article, we cover, at a high level, the different approaches for getting your software project from idea to finished product. Helping businesses either staff or build their project is something we do on a daily basis.

Our firm is not always the best choice for all customers, but if you think we might be a good fit for you and your project, or if you would like to ask some questions about the industry in general, contact us. You can reach us by filling out the form on this page or by calling us at 404 601 6000.

The 5 Pillars Of A Successful Software Project

We want to help every software project begin on solid ground. In The 5 Pillars Of A Successful Software Project, we share the five essential ingredients of every software project.

You can grab a copy of the guide below and share it with your team!

Create Your Application With A Successful Foundation