Article by Gareth Hawkey, CEO of redPanda Software
Choosing the right development approach is key to success in a fast-moving environment…
In today’s digitally-driven business environment, it is critical that businesses are powered by enterprise software that is tailored to their specific needs. Indeed, every business – even if they sit within the same sector or industry – has a unique customer experience and differentiated offering, which must be reflected and supported by the enterprise software that drives the business. The challenge, however, is finding the right team or company to develop bespoke software. Such a team requires a deep understanding of the business in question, and can balance creativity, innovation and agility with an intuitive understanding of the fundamental business challenge. Naturally, the question arises as to whether to use in-house developers, or to outsource to enterprise software development specialists.
Negotiating a complex environment
Without doubt, today’s business environment is far more complex, dynamic and disruptive than it was just ten years ago. As a result, the time to market is critical – and having a mere 6-month lead can give you that much-needed competitive advantage. With this in mind, companies that go the in-house route must carefully consider what skills they have on hand, in addition to the capacity of their teams and how quickly they can scale up or down.
They must balance this knowledge with the perceived risks of outsourcing, which include time to market and high costs. The in-house IT department may also harbour fears of losing control over systems, or being left without maintenance support.
Specialised knowledge, niche skills
Once the in-house option has been considered, businesses must consider the advantages of outsourcing the development process. To begin with, outsourced firms specialise in development, and have the necessary structures and processes in place. This allows such companies to become predictable and reliable in both their approach and delivery.
Moreover, specialised companies are also well positioned to attract and retain talented and skilled developers by providing them with a positive environment and unique culture, whereby they can learn and grow into new and challenging roles. Often, in-house developers find it difficult to fit into the culture of other organisations and fail to develop new skills and expertise.
Finally, it is much easier for an outsourced partner to scale up or down according to demand. Such a partner can reallocate its resources more effectively and efficiently across various clients, as the demand of each varies in what is undoubtedly a fast-changing business environment.
Given the ability to allocate resources according to needs (not rigid contracts), the costs of outsourcing to a software development company are not as high as commonly perceived. Indeed, when you take the total cost into account, including the costs of training your in-house developers and the costs of scaling (which forces you to pay a premium to get people in to meet your demands), you arguably get far more value when you outsource.
Long-term partnerships, smart structures
If you choose to go the outsourced route, the key to success is to build a long-term partnership with a trusted software development company. When choosing such a partner, it is critical to examine how that company operates, and what their internal structures are. How do they get things done, and where do decision-making powers lie?
At local development firm, redPanda Software, for example, the company has implemented a unique decision-making ‘spine structure’. So, in a team of nine or 10 people, three of them are enabled to make real time decisions. This ‘spine’ in the business structure allows those who are technically skilled to make real time decisions that are often critical to a successful outcome.
Essentially, the spine includes the tech lead who is the most senior developer on the team, the tester who is responsible for the quality of the code, and the business analyst who is responsible for making sure the developers understand what the customer’s specifications are. These three individuals are typically people who understand the company’s vision and overall strategy, and have a great deal of business savvy.
In addition to meeting client expectations and producing powerful work, this structure allows the company to upskill and support developers interested in advancing their career along the managerial track. Importantly, it also nurtures a supportive and exciting environment for the whole team, as they feel part of the process rather than just cogs in a bigger machine.
Ultimately, for companies that choose to go the outsourced development route, there are infinite benefits to be enjoyed – as long as the right partner is selected.