Full-time Developer vs Freelancer vs Software Development Company
Content:
  • 1. 👩‍💻 Freelance Software Developers: Strengths and Weaknesses
  • 2. 👨‍💼 Hiring a Full-time Developer: Ins and Outs
  • 3. 👨‍💻 Hiring a Software Development Company: Pros and Cons
  • 4. 💡 Takeaways
  • So, you have an idea of a Digital Product for your business or a Tech-Startup in mind and want to build a Minimum Viable Product, but don’t have an In-House Development team at your company? Or maybe your Tech-Team doesn’t have enough capacity to develop the Side-Project of your business? You’re right - in that case you need to get a contractor on board, who knows how to help.

    This article is also useful for your company if it’s located in a city with a limited number of good developers (e.g. if your city doesn’t have a good Tech-University). In that case, Near- or Offshoring of your Product Development may be also a good solution.

    But who should you be working with: a Freelancer, Digital Agency or Remote Full-time Developer? Tricky. Looking for Software Development Contractors is a strategic step that can either skyrocket or play a joke on your Business or Startup.

    choose-your-contractor
    A good contractor will guide you in the right direction (image by Janis Andzans)

    There are many vital considerations that are to be taken into account when you choose between a Full-time Developer vs a Freelancer vs a Software Development Company.

    When we’re talking about the creation of a Web or Mobile App for your business, a portrait of your perfect Tech Partner probably looks like this, right?

    This should be an experienced contractor with well-organized Software Development processes and excellent communication skills that can understand and handle your business-specific challenges. He also should be fully focused on your project and be able to support you during the development, release and post-release stages.

    It’s not a rare case when, after some time, companies find themselves dealing with the consequences of a wrong decision, if the chosen contractor doesn’t match this portrait:

    • For example, the whole Project was assigned to a Freelancer who has a narrow specialization and works on a few projects at once. What’s the possible result? A non-scalable Product and missed deadlines (if delivered at all 🙂 ).
    • Another story: some non-tech business decided to create its own In-House Dev Squad but failed (or it took significant time) because if you just put several people in the same room it won’t make them a team. You need to set up all development processes which is a tricky task if you don’t have an appropriate experience.
    developers
    Not sure how to choose a contractor? This guide will help to figure it out! (image by Paul Olek)

    Yet, it would be totally wrong to say that there’s only one acceptable solution for you - it all depends on a few key things like whether the digital product will be a core of your business, the complexity of the task, available budget etc.

    As each project is different, think carefully before making the final choice on Full-time Developer vs a Freelancer vs a Software Development Company. Let’s reveal ins and outs of each approach!



    👩‍💻 Freelance Software Developers: Strengths and Weaknesses

    Before we move on to the pros and cons of hiring a Freelancer, let’s recall some basic info:

    Freelancers
    Fitting Project Type 📝 Execution of tasks, where you need 1 specific expertise (for example, manual QA or implementation of a particular SDK) in case your Remote or In-House Team doesn’t have appropriate expertise
    Optimal length 🕰 Usually, up to several months
    Where to find 🌏 Freelance staffing platforms like Upwork
    Average rate 💵 $15-30 per hour

    So, in a few words, freelancers are individual developers who have expertise and experience in a few particular fields and are suitable for performing narrow tasks within their сompetence.

    If it seems that your case doesn’t require involving freelancers, jump right to pros and cons of hiring a Full-time Developer or a Software Development Agency.

    Advantages of hiring a Freelancer for your Project
    1. Low Rates. Since freelancers usually work from home, don’t have employees and other business-related costs, it allows them to set lower rates. Also, you don’t have to think about paid vacations, sick leaves, insurance, taxes and paying for office space or buying work equipment and office supply etc.
    2. Easy to Find. There are hundreds of thousands of freelance developers all over the world. Therefore, you can pick one that matches your requirements better than others. Places, where you can find them, are also well-known - Upwork and other similar staffing platforms. So, as Nike’s slogan says: just do it!
    3. Increased Flexibility. As a rule of thumb, these guys are ok with working odd hours since they usually manage their own schedules.

    However, successful startups and prosperous businesses are often sceptical about selecting such an option for development purposes. Why? Because of the following drawbacks:

    Disadvantages of hiring a Freelancer for your Project
    • Not Reliable. Since they are remote, work on several projects at the same time and can be hardly supervised in general, it’s not a rare case when they just might disappear with no explanation.
    • Narrow Specialization. One person can’t know everything. That’s why these guys usually focus on a few technologies. Therefore, don’t expect them to be able to build a whole product from scratch or deal with tasks that are out of their narrow competence.
    • Apathetic Towards Your Project. “Take a task -> complete it -> receive money -> look for another client” is a typical cycle of a freelancer, and the less time it takes, the better. Moreover, they usually look for new clients while working with you - and that may also distract them from doing their job well.
    • Organizational Breakdowns. Planning and organising are common issues of freelancers, too. It doesn’t even matter why it happens: due to poor communication skills or heavy workload, broken deadlines will notice no difference.

    Alternatively, Startups and Businesses are often advised to hire remote Full-Time Contractors. So let’s highlight their positive and negative sides of this option to make a Full-time developer vs a Freelancer comparison.



    👨‍💼 Hiring a Full-time Developer: Ins and Outs

    From our experience, we can split full-time developers into 2 groups:

    • In-house Developers;
    • Remote Full-Time Developers.

    To put it short, when talking about the In-House Dev Squad we mean your internal development team in its “classic” meaning: a group of people working in a shared office 5 days a week. Here are some other basics:

    In-House Developers
    Fitting Project Type 📝 A long-term project where a Mobile or Web App plays a key role
    Optimal length 🕰 As long as it will be relevant and profitable - therefore, it may take years
    Where to find 🌏 Local employment websites
    Average rate 💵 Depends on salaries in your country; as for Remote Developers - about $20-70 per hour

    So the main difference between a Full-time developer vs a Freelancer is that creating your In-House Team may be reasonable only if your Mobile and Web app will be the core of your business.

    Think of Snapchat or Tinder - their business is built around the mobile app, while for offline businesses (let’s say, a restaurant or a retail store) an application will become a good enhancement to increase the level of their service, but not something they can’t exist without.

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of having your own development team?

    Advantages of hiring a Full-time Developer
    1. You’re on the Same Boat. A full-time employee is usually not someone who will come and go as easy as a Freelancer. Such workers are motivated to do their best (the more successful their company is, the better salary they can expect), share your corporate culture and learn all about your business.
    2. Effective Supervision. As a boss, you can directly communicate with your contractors, plan their schedule and assign tasks to discover their capabilities. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to build a balanced team in which each member complements another one.
    3. Predictability. The employer-employee relationship implies a legal basis (an employment contract). Therefore, your confidential data should be safe, payment and working details - clear, and you may not worry that the developer will just disappear.
    4. Common Space. It’s not a significant advantage (thanks to modern communication tools) but it’s nevertheless more convenient to discuss, plan, hold meetings, review code and provide help to someone who is right next to you.

    Yet, there’s always the other side of the coin:

    Disadvantages of hiring a Full-time Developer
    • Build a Team from Scratch. A Dev Team isn’t just some random people writing code together - they should complement each other and work as a single unit supervised by a CTO. Is it an easy task to build a tech-team? Definitely not.
    • Additional Expenses. When hiring a Full-time Developer you have to keep in mind that the written in the contract salary isn’t the only kind of expenses related to the employee: think of taxes, paid leaves, health insurance, office rent, purchase of the needed technical equipment etc.
    • Keeping Them Busy. If you decide to build an In-House Team, you should have a long-term development plan and backlog so you don’t face the situation when you hire more people than you actually need and aren’t able to fire them without legal issues.
    • Limited Options. When looking for someone to join your office you’re limited to those who are living nearby or would like to relocate, while the most skilful developers may be miles away. And cost a few times cheaper without loss in quality!
    remote-contractor
    What about Remote Full-Time Developers? (image by Igor Kozak)

    Remote Full-Time Developers are remote full-time developers who may join your In-House Team if your team needs another developer for a short period of time (e.g. while you’re waiting for the next funding round to hire for that position) or to perform a specific task (like porting your Product from Web to Mobile). Here are some other key features:

    • Since Remote Developers usually sign an employment contract, they focus on the current Project and don’t tend to disappear.
    • Possible discipline and organisational issues are the main concerns.

    Now it’s time to move to the third and last a Full-time Developer vs a Freelancer vs a Software Development Company comparison.



    👨‍💻 Hiring a Software Development Company: Pros and Cons

    Finally, if you’re looking for a trustworthy, skilful & experienced Tech Partner who can build your Product, a Mobile/Web Dev Agency may be the perfect match. Here are some basics regarding a Full-time Developer vs a Freelancer vs a Software Development Company differences and specifications:

    Software Development Company
    Fitting Project Type 📝 Any kind of project but the best fit is the development of middle- and long-term projects like MVPs or an App for your Business
    Optimal length 🕰 From a few months and as long as you need
    Where to find 🌏 Agencies’ websites on Google and lists of companies like Clutch or AngelList
    Average rate 💵 $40-75

    Software Dev Agencies try to combine the best features from the previous options without inheriting their disadvantages. And that’s what makes them a good Tech Partner for your app or web development:

    Advantages of Hiring a Software Development Company
    1. Expertise. It’s all about the team. Good agencies may build their teams for years, making sure that each member brings unique skillset and expertise into the whole Squad. Moreover, their Dev-Processes are proven and well organized. It means that they’ll definitely find the way to complete your task.
    2. They’re Self-Organised. You may outsource your Project to a team and don’t think about organisational issues. Taxes, paid leaves, setting up the workspace - Agencies take care of this stuff on their own.
    3. Reputation. Unlike other Remote partners, Dev Companies can’t just disappear and then sign up at some online staffing platform using another name. They care about their reputation and testimonials, so expect them to do their best.
    4. No Legal Issues. Companies clearly understand the importance of legal documentation. Even more, they can provide you with contract and NDA templates if you don’t have one.
    5. Extremely Flexible. You can set up any model of cooperation with your team you’d like. Outsource the whole Product Development and wait till it’s done? Got you. Or maybe you want to supervise them more carefully and just need a dedicated team, which you’ll manage? That’s something that can be arranged, too!

    What are the drawbacks of such a choice?

    Disadvantages of Hiring a Software Development Company
    • Looking for a Big Fish. Dev Agencies aren’t interested in working on small projects with little budget since it won’t cover their operational expenses and bring actual revenue.
    • Average Costs are Higher. Since Agencies have many business-related costs (employees’ paid leaves, office rent, equipment maintenance) their services are going to cost you more than other options.

    Usually, these drawbacks are easily handled by professional companies so it shouldn’t have negative effect on your Project. Here are a few examples of what our clients say about working with us:

    “They make the whole business work for us, and their improvements are fundamental to our operations”. – Founder, Software Company

    “They put such effort into my product it might as well have been their own”. – Head of Product Development, Target Up GmbH



    💡 Takeaways

    Now you know all the key differences between a Freelancer vs Software Development Company or a Full-Time Developer. The choice will greatly depend on the key requirements of your project. Let’s recall them!

    Contractor Type Key Features
    Freelancer 💻 Best suitable for specific tasks (like the implementation of a particular feature). Cheap and easy to find but usually isn’t focused on your project and difficult to rely on.
    Remote Full-Time Software Contractor 🖥 Full-Time developers that can help you with short- and middle-term tasks. Have a limited competency but are usually dedicated to the project they’re currently working on.
    In-House Team 🏠 Your own Full-Time Team that is completely managed by you. It’s quite difficult to build and expensive to keep but you can completely rely on your team and build all working processes within it to reach your long-term goals.
    Dev Agency 👩‍💻 Professional Mobile & Web developers with a rich expertise and broad competency. Also, they’re self-organized and extremely flexible so you can consider them as your Tech Partner in many cases.

    Looking for assistance in delivering your Product? We at Stormotion help European and US-Based Startups and SMEs to Build Top-Notch Mobile and Web Apps. Just drop us a line and get to know us better!

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