Which Way Should You Go – A Single Onsite Resource Developer or a Development Team?

We’ve been getting asked a lot recently if it makes more sense to hire one developer that works in-house or to hire a development agency like us. Obviously we are biased in this issue but the discussion comes up so often we wanted to share our thoughts.  Many businesses believe there is value in hiring one developer to work on all internal issues instead of hiring the team at a software development company like ours. A short time ago, we took on a project from a client who had a similar intention.  Our client had recently hired an experienced, senior developer and by doing so, thought this experienced developer would be able to resolve all of their issues internally.  This developer did a great job, in all honesty we wish we had hired them first.  However, after a year or so the internal developer was so bogged down in the day to day operations they didn’t have time to handle some of the larger projects that were on the company development backlog.  The sales team needed some special reporting, marketing wanted changes to the main site to handle new sales promotions, and the list kept growing.

Initially, we met with the client to discuss their issues in order to find the best solution to their problems.  They were frustrated with this developer and since they did not know how much work he should or should not be able to do they didn’t know how to manage his role.  As we started talking, we also agreed that the hired developer was in fact experienced and incredibly knowledgeable. Overall, on paper, this client had everything they needed to get the job done. However, as the conversation progressed we quickly saw the issues. One of the largest problems was that the developer worked alone. This particular developer had great experience but simply did not have additional developers to share ideas with and learn from, ultimately leaving him a bit stuck.  Additionally, he was working with two other internal technical resources (one in marketing and one hardware) and essentially wasn’t collaborating well with the team. When the client came to us, our team was able to work with their developer, provide different ideas and offer additional help and support. Overall, this project was a success for our team and the client. We not only resolved the issue for the client but did so by collaborating with their internal team.

This particular problem is something we have seen over and over again. People who are not used to managing IT projects often believe they can hire a good developer and that in it of itself will get the work done. In truth, developers always work better on a team. A team dynamic offers diversity in terms of knowledge and experience for individuals to bounce ideas off of each other. It also offers developers to get a breather and have someone else look at code, help troubleshoot or spot issues. Just as a great sport’s team is comprised of many varying degrees of talent, ultimately it is how they work together that proves the greatness of their success. A development team offers varying levels of experience and ideas because of each unique perspective offered by each individual. This is something we’ve really enjoyed offering at Switchbox. Our team encompasses developers who have worked together for years, who collaborate well and who compliment each other. Often Switchbox is able to take on a project and complete it faster and of higher quality because of the tremendous talent and partnership on our team.