Which tech jobs—like software development, apps and web design—can you safely outsource and which should stay in-house?
‘In-house’ means under control
“Keeping as many competencies as possible in-house gives us better quality and cost control, and allows us to be very nimble. Updates to our website, product photos, and layouts for our catalogs and advertisements are all done in-house. We call on outside specialists only for big projects, like total redesigns of the website or complete software creation.”
—Vanessa Nornberg | President, Metal Mafia
Small projects only
“For more established businesses, beware of outsourcing all your web development projects, especially because the code can be messy to work with later. Instead, only outsource small projects. You limit your reliance on their ongoing commitment to you as a client, and you make sure that you can optimize on time and resources so your own tech team isn’t overwhelmed with having to do every little thing.”
—Danny Wong | Co-Founder, Blank Label Group, Inc.
Let others handle mobile apps
“If a mobile app is not a core part of your business but only a feature you’d like to provide to your customers, it’s an ideal tech job to outsource. Because of the breadth of platforms (iOS, Android, etc.) and the concrete, repeatable milestones of app development, reputable third-party providers have sprung up. These mobile app development shops have expertise to be successful in a short engagement.”
—Doreen Bloch | CEO & Founder, Poshly Inc.
Don’t do any development!
“Unless your primary service is development, there’s no need to have a staff developer in-house. It is very rare to find someone to do site structuring, programming, graphics, optimization, and branding all at the same time. Instead, outsource each element individually and for better results.”
—Roger Bryan | Managing Partner, ROI Marketing Department
Outsource everything, provided…
“You can outsource any tech work, if you’ve got excellent project specs and you set clear expectations for documentation and other details. But it may be more work than you expect to outsource: you need to create the documents to make sure that all your development work meets set expectations and follows similar style guidelines so that you don’t go crazy down the road trying to work with old code.”
—Thursday Bram | Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting
Web design is worthy
“Outsourcing web site design is very safe if you provide detailed instructions. We internally will develop a comprehensive treatment, which includes the emotional look and feel we want to convey, as well as the homepage content. We then have the designer go in phases, page by page. This provides great quality control and ensures timely deliverables.”
—Raoul Davis | CEO, Ascendant Group
Motion media always goes out
“By hiring one or two employees, website design and digital could stay in-house. Motion media is something you usually need more frequently, so it’s better to outsource. We outsourced to Chimaeric and quickly learned that outsourcing motion media not only provides higher quality, but expands the capabilities of what you can do.”
—John Hall | CEO, Digital Talent Agents
What is your core business?
“If it’s not a core competency of your business, outsource it. If it is a core competency, hire excellent people and pay them what they’re worth. Your priorities should always be treated as if they are priorities.”
—Brent Beshore | Owner & CEO, AdVentures
Straightforward is settled
“As a rule, we outsource jobs that are straightforward, so as not to need intense supervision. Also, if the jobs are repetitive, they only need to be explained once; if they’re just a one-off project, we don’t want to hire someone specifically.”
—Nicolas Gremion | CEO, Foboko.com
Where’s Jack of all Trades?
“Each of the mentioned jobs can be outsourced. However, don’t fall into the trap of hiring someone who says he can do some or all of the tasks you throw at them. If you need PHP programmer, hire one. If you need a person to create a .PSD design for your website, hire a professional who’s done excellent site templates in that format. Always try to find a specialist, not a jack of all trades.”
—Juha Liikala | Co-Founder & Director of Marketing, WebVehicle Oy
Proceed with caution
“Having literally just completed our website redesign two weeks ago, I can attest to both sides of the coin. Outsource because it saves you a lot of money, but be very careful about who you hire. Our redesign took four to five months longer than it should have. Looking back, I would say we should have spent a little more time shopping around instead of acting on impulse and wanting to get things done ASAP.”
—Justin Beegel | Founder, Infographic World, Inc.
Learn from experience
“I had some bad experiences with web designers picking up and taking off, so I always recommend keeping web design in-house. I also recommend putting your website on a platform like WordPress so it can be easily updated and accessed by everyone who needs it.”
—Heather Huhman | Founder & President, Come Recommended
Keep tech developments close
“Outsourcing technical developments will never give you the results you’re looking for. The vision will be lost in translation, and the money you save by outsourcing will be spent on additional communication time and costs. I recommend you find someone you trust to work with, or buy an existing solution that works well.”
—Christian Springub | CEO & Co-Founder, Jimdo
Outsource what you know, in-house what you don’t
“If you know how to do something extremely well and have it systematized into a routine, then it is a good fit for outsourcing. If you know exactly what you want, how it works and what it does, you can consider outsourcing. On the other hand, if you have a problem and you don’t know how to solve it, do not expect outsourcing to be the solution. If you want a project which evolves with you on a daily basis as your needs change, you should not consider outsourcing. You cannot delegate (outsource) something that you do not know how to do yourself (in-house).”
—Lucas Sommer | Founder & CEO, Audimated
Invest in the right partner
“Outsource to get the best, not to save money. Find the digital partner who brings the most value to the table and invest in a longstanding relationship. In addition to amazing design and technology, the best digital firms will add value to your business by providing big ideas. Don’t underestimate the value of fresh, expert eyes that are invested in your success.”
—David Gardner | Co-Founder, ColorJar