Why companies need to reconsider how they view development outsourcing

Bad DinosaurAs a newcomer to the tech industry, I am constantly striving to learn more about the field I now work in. Bad Dinosaur, the software agency where I am the communications manager, aims to provide a complete service to anyone who wants to be in the tech industry. We offer everything from early-stage workshops to MVP building and consulting to companies of all sizes.

In an effort to understand better the difference between building software in-house versus with outside help, I sat down with Bad Dinosaur directors Russ Peterson and Kyle Whittington to discuss where they see both outsourcing and in-house development both in the present and going forward.

The way Kyle and Russ see it, to succeed in the tech industry, an organisation must have good product design, business sense and software. Especially for smaller organisations, nailing all three is a challenge. At present, there’s a real shortage of skilled developers on the job market, which leads to problems for both smaller and larger private sector organisations when it comes to trying to keep development in-house.

For smaller organisations and startups, getting good tech can definitely be a challenge. “It’s a  bit of a chicken and egg situation,” Russ explains, “you must have good tech to secure funding, but you must have funding to be able to hire developers.”

Investors prefer startups to keep development in-house, but early-stage companies struggle to be able to offer a competitive package to developers with suitable seniority in comparison to larger, more established companies. This leads to many tech start-ups having limited knowledge of software, and losing out on leads, as they can’t bring their product to market fast enough.

Meanwhile, larger companies who have experienced in-house tech teams often simply don’t have the time to explore innovative ideas. Kyle, who worked in-house for larger companies before founding Bad Dinosaur, describes how development teams are spread thin due to an insufficient number of developers. When companies grow, processes also tend to slow down, making creating innovative products far more difficult.

These issues have led more and more organisations to seek outside help for their development goals. The way Russ and Kyle see it, companies need to be less afraid of outsourcing, as at the end of the day, getting a quality product out to market, fast, is more important than having an extremely strong tech team from day one.

The Bad Dinosaur directors recommend keeping things local, though, as outsourcing overseas comes with many issues, such as delays caused by time difference, things quite literally getting lost in translation as well as difficulties managing the project remotely and getting the desired outcome.

It seems that more and more people are realising the merit in partnering with companies like Bad Dinosaur, who underline the importance of co-design and transparency. At work, we often half-jokingly refer to ourselves as a CTO-for-hire service. We don’t really like the word ‘outsourcing’, as we’d much rather see ourselves as the technology partner to our clients.

The company is going through a period of growth that has allowed Kyle and Russ to bring on myself and our designer Lindsay on in the past few months. This success is indicative of a slow change in attitudes within the industry. Given the shortage of experienced developers, more and more companies are coming to realise the value in bringing in fresh ideas from software agencies, as this allows for startups to get to market faster and larger companies to innovate with more ease.