Is hiring contractors a good choice? my personal experience
Where's the truth?
At first glance this post can look one-sided, to sell the object of the conversation, but while reading through, you'll see some valuable pieces of content - the pros and cons of being on both sides of the coin. Ah, and I'm a "young" blog poster, so feel free to criticize.
Back to the time when me and my team were involved in developing a SaaS for the construction market, a mix of a service marketplace and a platform, e.g. the next uber for construction rentals, I had my best experience of subcontracting pieces of work that we weren't able to take care of in-house.
This time was different, this experience taught me all the concepts of building something great, that only solid and experienced tech partners can teach. I had many other experiences before, and to keep positive stories at the end, these are the worst cons of subcontracting in my opinion:
Language barriers. When we speak about fast paced development environments, and when communication isn't the strong side (specially English), this can be a huge barrier because projects are all about communication. The more complicate the communication is, the more mistakes and inefficiency can occur. Now you understand how important are those morning standups?
Location. I strongly recommend nearshore development, this can be a huge game changer when you don't have to wait responses from other continents and people sitting on other time zones. This can be fixed of course, through a strong discipline and... again... communication infrastructure. In fact, leaving an audio about a status report on Slack, will make you the most loved colleague. Most of the times text messages are pity and can have double meanings.
Lower price doesn't mean quality. If the budget is tight, and the only option is to hire somebody cheaper, sometimes is better to don't spend that budget at all and reduce the scope. Or you should keep in mind that you will pay that price in the future. When you buy a luxury car (you're a lucky one) you expect the quality which is not always the case, but in most of the times you pay for the experience, the knowledge, and if you are eager to know how to identify who has that knowledge and who don't - experienced professionals should always suggest what's the best option, provide a clear picture and prevent mistakes. Knowledge is the result of painful experiences.
Why hiring an agency if you can hire a professional directly? It's quite common to search for an IT or Design or whatever agency to accomplish some work, which later always becomes a daily basis, but why hiring an agency if you can reach that professional, developer, designer directly? And this is something I was always asking myself, and usually I was experiencing the lost in translation feeling, when working for other customers projects as an agency, why the agency is needed at all? A good 30% of sprint planning meetings conclude with some issues of requirements translation, and when a project manager or an account manager, has many communication bridges - this percentage can increase by a lot. For example - You want to draw a circle, your contractor's project manager tells to his team of developers to draw a hexagon, and the developers will be drawing rhombuses. OK. this is extreme I understand, but this issue is common and I bet you experienced it at least one time in your career. By reducing the bridges of communication, and avoiding the huge amount of work in keeping the infrastructure healthy, hiring a team of software engineers, or designers or consultants directly managed by you is be the best option. These people must be managed, and if you are not a PM, It's always better to hire one in-house, somebody with whom you already have a good communication level, and who will look after your interests, plan the project, report to you, and delegate to the team with diligence.
This is what I meant:
Hiring directly can be risky as well, having a bunch of freelancers that can change their paths anytime can lead to lack of sureness. I've seen many companies hiring lots people in-house and abandoning their projects within a 6 months frame, in worst cases even after a year of money-burning. The biggest mistake that many companies do is always investing tons of money in products that are actually not needed for their purpose and when the project outcomes are not yet tested on the market. This mistake is common in big corporations too.
This is how communication is complex in projects:
Companies spend weeks or months to get the perfect candidate for a job position they posted and the solution to all these pains that many corporations and scaleups suffer from, is to hire already tested and pre-screened candidates, this is something that me and my team already experience this for about 5 years or so. We successfully hired through staff augmentation in past, and we are currently on the other side of the coin. What we do is simple, we solve the pain of many recruiters, that have to find experienced or rare profiles to onboard. Those rare profiles are difficult to find, but through these years we were involved in recruiting and training software engineers with rare skills such as in C++, Magento (Php), AQA, React and more. Most of our staff is successfully engaged in external projects through this model, our partners are happy to rely on us when we can deliver the right candidate within 3 working days.
Staff augmentation is cheaper in comparison to hiring in-house, because of an old school concept - nearshore location, we are hiring in Poland and Estonia, you usually hire in Germany and U.K. I bet you are spending more on salaries, equipment, office management etc.
You can hire immediately. We allow our partners to interview our people, ask them to do a test task, and hire within some days.
Fast Scalability. You can access a wide pool of candidates anytime.
There is a big CON of staff augmentation too, and it's the lack of internal knowledge, and in particular projects this is a must, but based on our experience this is possible to overcome with very simple gimmicks and rules through the project life cycle.
Hiring an agency is not bad, hiring a freelancer is not bad too, but when you have strict project deadlines and your project outcome is not yet tested on the market, staff augmentation or hiring people directly from a professional agency and building a nearshore team - this is your best way to go. We would love to hear your experience: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aivaras Kazilas is the Co-founder of Onectus Baltics division, he's responsible for the growth and the company's structure.