Why large enterprises turn to external development partners over their internal teams for strategic projects.
What is a strategic project?
A strategic development project is focused on obtaining competitive advantages over competitors. They enable businesses to win a lucrative deal, or quickly jump on an exciting opportunity in the market. They are typically time sensitive or have a need for innovative thinking that differentiates them from operational projects such as workflow improvements, cost saving initiatives, or general feature enhancements.
In my experience of working with Avco’s clients, many of them have significant software development capabilities of their own. What was specifically surprising to me was that large corporations with their own team of developers were approaching us for their strategic projects. Why would a company with dozens or even hundreds of software developers on staff go to an external partner, surely they could leverage their own talent?
In a lot of cases it’s because an external team is more capable of delivering their strategic projects. Here are four reasons why.
1. Internal Teams Are Busy
Internal development teams are occupied with “Business as Usual” day-to-day activities, maintaining existing systems and infrastructure. These business critical internal tasks can’t just be dropped, delegated or postponed - without them a company can grind to a halt.
Teams with significant BaU tasks don’t have the capacity to work on any significantly sized new development, particularly time sensitive projects.
Conversely, a dedicated development house have developer capacity exactly for these situations. An external dev team can ensure that your special projects are their priority. Which ties into the next point.
2. External Teams Move Fast
All strategic projects have one thing in common: they are time sensitive. This can be for various reasons; it might be an exciting deal predicated on delivering a system that doesn’t exist yet, a client threatening to leave for a competitor if they don’t see meaningful improvement, or a gap in the market that won’t last long.
Software development houses create software quickly and efficiently without compromising on quality. Shoddy code and slow results won’t keep a software development house in business for long. Your internal team are experts at your systems, while external development companies are adept at spinning up dozens of projects a year. Their capacity, optimisation, and wealth of knowledge enables them to move fast.
Once you find a good software development company, the benefits become even more pronounced as you grow a long-term partnership. A shared understanding and trusting relationship goes a long way for both parties. For example, I work with several customers who know that they can call us anytime and receive a ballpark quote in as little as a day, or have a proof of concept built at the drop of a hat.
We know their business, and they know they can depend on us. This gives them huge freedom to explore “what if” scenarios, or land time-sensitive deals. Slow-moving internal development teams, even though they are literally part of your business, aren’t capable of this level of agility.
3. External Opinions Are Invaluable
You know your business better than anyone, but development houses have considerable technical expertise that can have a huge impact on strategic projects. We live on the cutting edge of what is possible. The nature of our business means we are always learning and exploring new tools, frameworks, and patterns. Our clients get the benefit of that experience through innovative ideas that will reduce costs, trim timescales, or generally make the end result more impressive.
This isn’t to say an internal team isn’t skilled, but often they are tied to a particular handful of technologies. Strategic developments are often innovative initiatives or digital transformations, and internal software developers may not be geared up for this. If the team’s role is maintaining and supporting legacy systems they may not have the skills and knowledge necessary to bring fresh ideas to the table or bring to fruition the final result.
A good software partner is able to propose an entire solution. It’s not uncommon to have a business issue but be unsure of how to approach it, or understand what the lasting solution looks like. Software development companies are constantly exposed to the varying issues of dozens of businesses, and have insight on how to ensure that your projects are handled effectively, efficiently and to the highest standard.
4. It’s a Problem Solved
Actual software development is typically only one part of a larger moving picture. Particularly within corporate organisations, strategic developments can require planning, budgeting and sign off reviews at multiple levels in the business. Even when you have a fast-moving opportunity to grab onto there can be a lot of boxes to tick.
When you employ a trusted external team to handle your software development, you enable yourself to focus on the big picture. Scheduling development resources, budgeting for risks, and preparing and reviewing technical architecture, all become issues that you don’t need to allocate time for in your work day. An external team handle the legwork and give you as much or as little involvement as you and your business need. Fixed-price development costs will absorb the financial risks of overruns or technical hurdles and many development companies will also shoulder hosting and support responsibilities This enables you to focus on the high level business aspects of the project.
The unique knowledge and experience of bespoke software development companies can be hugely beneficial to any project. When time is tight or there’s a need for innovative out of the box thinking, you can leverage the capabilities of a trusted external partner to boost the results of your strategic projects.