Outsource vs inhouse

Shane Lee from BeginningiOSdev.com and author of recently released App Store Playbook gave an interview to us a couple of weeks ago. His upcoming book will be about outsourcing mobile development. Because we have hired both programmer and designer freelancers on Power of Logic and most of the work on our new game is also done by guys working on a project basis we’ve decided to sum up a few insights which might be helpful for other devs.

Flow at work

Why to start with freelancers

1. Hiring someone on a project basis is the best way to test your cooperation. CVs and portfolios never show crystal clear whom you are “buying” to your company and it is always easier to cancel a project contract than to fire an employee.

2. Working on a project means everybody has one clear goal: to finish the product as soon as possible and get paid. This is both good and bad, because the project owner has predefined deadlines and a fixed budget and the freelancer motivation to finish the work soon. The thing is, that usually the project takes longer because of many reasons and both sides must have a contingency plan regarding how this will be solved and paid. And be aware that every freelancer has many other jobs so there are often delays in his outputs.

3. When you start a new business, it is risky both for you and the people joining your team. It is very difficult to get the best players together when you don’t have an existing reputation or any results behind you. Starting with freelancers is one way to kick-off the development. Later on, in case you succeed, it will be much easier to get the right people on board.

4. Working with freelancers brings lot of misunderstandings because you aren’t usually sitting at one desk and the freelancer is doing more than only the work for you, which means other distractions. What helps is to write down a detailed brief, call afterwards and to set an open atmosphere where nobody is afraid to ask others about anything. And be mentally prepared for the fact that you can’t avoid misunderstandings 100%.

5. You don’t necessarily need NDAs but we have a rule to have a written deal with key members of the team. It is valuable for both sides because we set some rules, responsibilities, payments and sanctions. NDAs for secrecy are unnecessary because everyone in the market has tons of ideas, but execution matters.

Why have a fully dedicated team member ASAP

Shane has asked us what would we do differently starting out in iPhone app development again. And we would try to hire a designer and programmer full-time. Honestly we were afraid of costs and an uncertain future at the beginning of this year, but from today’s perspective it will be much more cost efficient to pay salary to full time team members and to develop the game in half the time.

iPhone development is mostly about small teams but today we are sure that a compact team sitting at one desk with one focus and one target performs much better. Don’t stick to “hire-per-project” too long, from a certain point it is not as effective as at the very beginning. But stick to keeping the team and costs as small as possible to minimize the risk of failure


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