Outsourced versus in-house development: which is best?

By Alia Coster

Outsourced versus in-house development: which is best?

Last month, we spoke about the differences between onshore, offshore, and nearshore outsourcing. But what if you can’t decide whether to outsource or not in the first place?

We all know what outsourcing is – handing over specific jobs or projects to an external team. It’s estimated that across all industries, around 300,000 positions are outsourced every year, meaning there’s clearly a lot of value in it. But when push comes to shove, which is the right option for your business?


The decision to keep things in-house can be largely down to cost. While 59% of businesses outsource to cut costs, if money is tight and you can’t afford any more expenses whatsoever, you might have no choice but to stick with the team you have. 

Ideally, you’d be able to invest in an in-house team for a specific project, or outsource to an external specialist. But not every business will have these options.

Investing in your in-house team will also help to build up greater knowledge and experience within your business. A few members of your team will have this project as their sole focus and responsibility. And, once completed, they’ll be specialised in the product. They’ll be in a great position to maintain the application and problem-solve any teething issues, rather than having to rely on external support during the product’s infancy. Long-term, this insight and experience with a product can prove extremely valuable.

Breadth of knowledge or experience

Outsourcing has its many benefits, too. 28% of businesses outsource to access a greater range of expertise and experience. By outsourcing, you have a whole global talent pool to choose from. And the more experienced and highly skilled professionals you can bring on board, the easier the development process will be and the stronger your final product will end up.

Perhaps you couldn’t afford to bring in a specialist on a full-time salary. Especially considering the extras of NI contributions and a pension. But you could afford to outsource a project to them for a few months. 

And, in this way, outsourcing allows you access to the very best of the best at a better value for money. 

Extra costs

It’s also worth mentioning some of the extra costs associated with in-house teams. 

Developers – much like any other professionals – want to feel valued by their employer. They want to work in a challenging environment that allows them time for personal development and provides them with learning opportunities. By hiring an in-house team, creating this environment becomes your responsibility. 

The savings of keeping operations in-house can often be offset by the extra management costs of keeping your developers happy and engaged with the business. You have to invest in your own staff. But it won’t be your responsibility to invest in the development of outsourced staff.

Lean on the experience of a whole team

If you’re completing a project internally, you might have yourself and one or two other developers to lean on. You’re limited to these skill sets alone.

But by outsourcing, you have access to a greater team. There’s a wider diversity of opinions, perspectives, and experiences to lean on. Then, beyond that, your outsourced staff will have their own team they can look to for support, advice, and guidance. In an indirect sense, you can add to the value of your team without the commitment of employment.

Having multiple sets of eyes working on a project will only make everything run smoother and more productively. It’s much easier to problem-solve when there’s more talent and experience available.

Pay for what you use

We touched on this earlier – outsourcing provides a more flexible way to invest in a project. Most development projects will require a few months of intense focus and contact time. But once they’re completed, this will taper off into an occasional maintenance and general management role.

When outsourcing, you can activate an external team as and when you need them, only paying for what you actually use. You won’t be spending money to keep on staff who are no longer really needed. And, if you forge an ongoing, valuable relationship, you know the outsourced support will always be there should you need it again.

Especially during the current climate, where your business’s finances might be tricky, this flexibility can be a massive benefit of outsourcing your work.

Best of both worlds

Choosing to outsource or choosing to keep things in-house isn’t a set-in-stone decision. Just because you outsource to a company once doesn’t mean you’re tied to them forever. Perhaps it wasn’t the most productive relationship and you want to outsource elsewhere. Or the external team has simply added all the value they possibly can to your project. Either way, outsourcing isn’t a permanent choice.

Some companies outsource for initial product development, but look to bring a project in-house in the future. Outsourced partners can always work with a company to build a system, and then work alongside them to help bring it in-house. A lot of businesses will be happy to assist with this transition and help to equip your own team with the insight and guidance they need to take over all maintenance and management.

Similarly, if your business’s workload has grown a lot and you’re consistently using three or four people through an agency, you might realise you’ve outgrown outsourcing. Now might seem the perfect time to bring things in-house and invest in your own highly skilled internal staff.

Both outsourced and in-house development have their pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide which is best for your business right now. And remember, what works for you one year might stop serving you the next.

At Createk, we offer expert outsourced development to help your business get exactly where it wants to go. If you are looking for a new-build, support with an existing application, or for us to offer some outside, impartial advice, get in touch today on 0330 995 0685.

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