Should you outsource innovation and software development?
It is a common dilemma faced by CTOs, CIOs, founders, product managers and many more that when thinking about how to bring their idea to life. Should we build it or should we outsource it?
This also isn’t just a one-dimensional question. Do you need a digital strategy or an innovation strategy, an innovation consultant, a software development production house or a digital agency that can do everything? The options are vast.
Of course, no one knows your business and idea better than you but are you internally the best equipped to bring that idea to market and to your customers?
Can you truly say you have the expertise, the time, the resource and most importantly the impartiality required in order to deliver a great digital product?
Before you answer, yes I can, let us take a look at the top five reasons outsourcing may be the best option if you want to give your idea the best chance of success.
We have also created this infographic to provide a snapshot of the points below. Please feel free to share it across your channels (please link back to this article) or to use it in your company meetings in discussions.
1) Access to the latest tech and talent
Depending on your venture, it may well require a variety of specialities that include the very latest and evolving technology and methodologies. Do you have the digital capability? Do you have someone within your team that can build out a Snowflake cloud-data system on request, or understands what Paypal accepting cryptocurrencies in 2020 is going to mean for your business in 2021? Is this going to either result in someone having to learn it or even worse, using old technology to try and ‘get around’ the situation?
One of the main advantages of outsourcing in this area is that the digital or innovation agency you hire will take, one or possibly both of these approaches when it comes to digital innovation for their clients.
1) Always learning: If your potential partner is a reputable agency, they should be providing training and time off for their tech teams, strategists and creatives to learn the latest tech, trends and skills to stay ahead. It can literally be impossible to find time during work hours to keep up with all of this without being given dedicated time and permission to do this.
A good agency knows, allowing their teams time to invest in their development is only going to benefit them as a business and their clients in the long run.
What does this mean for you? You know you are getting a partner who’s talent know exactly what is going on in the industry and will endeavour to build your venture for the future, not for today or yesterday.
2) Build a tech squad for you: Every digital product or venture is different and therefore it requires different skill sets. Even going down to an iOS or android app, each one of these projects is very different.
Will, it cost more in the long term to bet on React Native or Flutter for your upcoming mobile project? Do you have the talent in your team who is right for this job? A digital agency may have two approaches to this.
a) they have the right people for the right tech job that can be deployed to work on your venture.
b) if the digital agency doesn’t have the right person in-house, they certainly will have direct contacts to the right people all over the world and bring their specialities in just for your project.
Either way, agencies can build a unique team just for your product through trusted sources and relationships.
Ask yourself this, do you have the time to find and vet the right people for the job? Do you want to take on more staff? By working with a third party agency, you can remove all of these headaches and let them give you the best team possible without any of the hassles.
2) Increased focus on core business
We very much doubt that your teams are sat around doing nothing. Keeping up with the daily demands of an IT or innovations team is the majority of the time, a never-ending feet.
Does your team really have the capacity to take on another digital product? Will the core services your business needs still operate and run at maximum efficiency or is something going to have to give to take on the new workload?
In our experience, senior management normally asks for the new innovation project as well as the successful running of the current business but will not approve any more in the way of headcount for your team.
For any business, there are two fundamentals of survival.
1) Staying ahead of the competition
2) Executing your core business offering better than anyone else
Those who fall behind stay behind in most cases, but we understand the demands are great. But ask yourself, which one can you really afford to underperform on?
If you choose not to innovate, especially as an established company then you run the risk of becoming the next Prudential vs. Lemonade story.
Lemonade insurance started 5 years ago and is worth over £3billion.
Prudential started 172 years ago and is worth £20billion.
They may be worth seven times more than Lemonade, but they have been in business 34 times longer.
Over the next 20 years, who is likely to win this race?
We would say Lemonade.
There is another Lemonade out there right now with the next advancement, and they have fewer funds and less standing, but they have one major advantage a giant company doesn’t.
They know how to move fast and solve problems with technology. They know how to innovate.
If you chose to divert resources away from your core business, well, this is pretty straight forward. You run the risk of a sub-par business and doing more harm than good. Whether that is losing current customers, internal technical errors or security breaches, no innovation is worth risking your current business over.
3) Reduce cost
Let’s be clear, innovation or any form of digital service is not worth it if it does no lead to an increase in revenue for your business. It certainly isn’t worth it if it ends up costing you so much money that you end up resenting the project entirely.
So will outsourcing your digital work cost you more, less or the same?
It has been concluded that outsourcing your digital work can save on average 30%. That is quite a large % especially in the context of the cost of digital products and if you were to bring in employees to carry out the project.
Innovation isn’t normally cheap or straight forward and therefore you are bound to run into complexities, that is why it is best to make sure you are developing what people want, not what you assume they want. Any shifts or developments that could have been identified at the start that cause a change in the scope of work or direction of the venture are going to cost you dearly.
4) Reduce time
We know the chances you have had one or more experiences where projects were delayed or even cancelled by your supplier. Every tech person you seemed to chat to was unable to speak in a simple way, and the whole experience was undesirable. These add up to bad experiences that put you off working with an external digital partner.
The experience of late, over-budget projects may have left you thinking that there’s not a single technology firm out there who can make technology an enjoyable experience.
In some cases, you may be right, but if you pick the right partner, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As well as the previous three points outlined above, time has to be the most precious commodity of anyone or any business.
If you choose the right partner, who understands your business needs and works with you and not for you then the time savings you can make from idea to inception are vast when outsourcing your work.
Why is this? Partly, this can come down to expertise with your outsourced partner having specialist skills in the required technology and therefore simply just being more efficient.
The other is purely processes and ways of approaching the digital venture. Internal politics and debates can sometimes cause delays and too many questions to be answered before work has even begun.
There is a saying that ‘the quality of your life is determined by the questions you ask.’
This has also been applied to sports and is also true of technology and development work.
Whether you’re building a new website, an iOS app, android app or the latest AI, if you ask the wrong questions and spend time debating, deciding and executing on the wrong questions, guess what? You’re not only wasting time on those wrong questions and answers but are going to spend more time on fixing them.
So why will outsourcing save you asking the wrong questions?
Firstly, assuming you have outsourced to the right people then they will have experience in this area. They will know the right questions to ask and spend time answering those and if they are a true partner, they will prevent you from spending time and money on the wrong questions.
5) Development of your team
Working with a digital partner can not only lead to a successful venture and hopefully revenue within the business, but it can also reignite your team’s passion for their jobs as well as developing their careers.
There is no doubt that the world is evolving fast and digital and technology are moving faster and possibly even causing this change. But with the amount of work chief technology officers or chief innovation officers or head of products or a head of IT has on, they rarely find the time to stay ahead of the game (unless they do it in their own time).
Working with a partner who’s job as we mentioned above is to stay ahead of the latest trends will impart that expertise on the clients they work with.
So if you outsource your work, you are in essence developing your team by exposing them to the authorities in the digital space who can teach them on a real live project new tech, new processes and ways of working that they can go away with and apply in their day to day job.
Companies are as good as the teams that make them and if you want to be the best company you need to make sure your teams are learning and are satisfied. Working with the right partners can do this far better than any training course ever could.
Who do I outsource to?
If this article has made you think that actually outsourcing your technology work might be something you wish to explore, then please get in touch with us.
At Danger Farms we offer a no-obligation coffee (real or virtual) where we will discuss your project and needs and even see if we are the right people to help you.
We have a philosophy within our business to only take on projects we honestly believe we can improve and that we will deliver a digital product that excels.
So, if you would like that coffee, please contact us.