The digital era is here, and with it brings unparalleled demand for the digitization of products and services, digital-first strategies, and new use cases for apps that have yet to be imagined or built. Small to large-scale companies are shifting to web, app, and cloud-based services to stay relevant - both for internal and external stakeholders. Start-up companies often create or rely on technology as an access point or a primary part of the service offering to consumers.
Here are the stats:
22% projected 10-year increase in demand for software developers (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
45,000+ job openings across the US for software developers (LinkedIn Job Search, Nov 2020)
$92K average salary for a software developer/engineer in the US (Glassdoor)
The short answer: it depends on the need.
There are many different ways to accomplish a goal, and so there are many different ways to create, design, and implement software to meet a specific need. Thus, a variety of websites, apps, and software modules take shape - all requiring the fundamentals of software development to come together in the back-end.
From database structure to programming to UX design and workflow, software development is a highly dimensional function that often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. In other words, there are many points of susceptibility and potential failure especially as the use cases become more complex.
Okay, so you have an identified need, and you know you need software development expertise. But with an increased demand and less supply, how do you proceed?
If you have a permanent and ongoing need for software development, employing FTEs to cover the demand may be your best bet. The positives of this approach are investing in your own resources and being able to develop skills within your organization.
However, it can be costly to employ developers especially if needs are sporadic or scale up and down frequently. Keep in mind that hiring one developer or engineer might result in either burnout (over-extending an individual) or stagnation (not keeping up skills or not having enough to do). If your need is at or below 1 FTE, it may be best to outsource or take a hybrid approach.
Start-up companies tend to shy away from a full-employment model, opting for an outsourced or hybrid model. Additionally, many companies that are not in the tech industry but have digitized components of their product or service offerings also tend to leverage an outsourced or hybrid model.
There are many options when it comes to outsourcing, which include independent contractors, software development firms, and staffing agencies.
As a software development firm, we help our clients with a variety of web and software development needs. These needs range from ongoing (hosting services) to recurring (updating web or mobile apps) to project-based (new implementation). Development firms like ours typically price services based on need and offer wrap-around services such as project management to keep deliverables on budget and on time.
The benefits of using a full-service firm are reduced internal management time, defined cost based on scope, and wide range of expertise applied to each engagement. However, this type of model relies on proper and effective scoping - scope creep and add-ons may result in additional cost unless you have established a retainer.
A staffing agency may be necessary if you are looking for a specific skill set that is especially difficult to find and if you are looking to potentially hire. When taking the staffing agency route, we highly suggest finding a firm that specializes in the technology space.
Keep in mind that a staffing agency is going to deliver candidates that meet your requirements - all aspects of interviewing and managing the contractor will fall to you and your team. This can be a protracted process, so it is typically not used if development needs are urgent or time-sensitive.
With increased reliance on technology, many companies chose to employ one or a handful of developers, while backfilling and extending to increases in demand with contractors or external development companies. This blend-of-both-worlds approach allows a company to easily scale while meeting their current needs.
Within an outsource or hybrid model, software development firms often offer to "white-label" their services. Essentially, we act as an extension of a client's IT or technology team. This means we not only represent the client's best interests in meetings, but we also take on the client's mission and vision to deliver on the defined needs.
Best practices for white-labeling include setting expectations up front on both sides, defining the scope and needs clearly, and maintaining quality communication throughout the duration of the engagement.
Whatever new or existing software development needs emerge, it is clear that the demand will only continue into the future. We see endless potential in the "why": and the digital transformations that will take shape to provide us the answers.
Master Key Interactive is a software development firm that specializes in custom development and services to meet needs both large and small. Nothing you do is out of the box, so why should we be? If you have a need, we are always here to listen.