Freelancer vs. remote employee vs. custom software company. What is the best option when hiring for software development?


No matter the size of your company at some point as you grow you will need to  hire developers.

Finding good talent is where the problems usually begin. Hiring can be a long, complicated, often overwhelming process and hiring tech talent is usually at least 5x more difficult. Unless your company name is Google, Apple, Facebook or a unicorn, with salaries and perks to match, hiring developers is more like 10x as difficult.

If you are facing this dilemma, why not consider using remote workers? It’s a solution that not only gives you access to the best talent, regardless of where they live, but is also cost-effective.

Remote hiring usually falls into one of three categories.


Hiring freelance software developers

Freelancing is a common practice in IT, so hiring a freelance developer may seem the easiest choice.

There is plenty of talent, from almost any location in the world, with whatever skills you may need, and dozens of services that make the hiring process and payment simple and easy.

However, in order to work effectively with freelancers you need enough technical expertise to be able to produce clear technical requirements, judge code quality, control technologies, establish tight-but-achievable deadlines and control the overall process.

Hiring a software freelancer works best when you have  one specific task.

If you have multiple tasks or a complex project you may consider  hiring several freelancers to create a team. However, you should keep in mind that managing a globally dispersed team requires a specific skill set, so it is prudent to hire a project manager as well.

Obviously, the more people you need to find the longer and more complicated the hiring process becomes, as well as a greater chance for missteps to occur and errors to happen in the finished product.


Hiring a software developer employee to work remotely

Once you are no longer restricted to a geographical location the talent pool is definitely larger; you have access to high-skilled software developers from all over the world, but you still have to find the right one.

Not every person who is an ideal candidate for an in-office position is great for remote work. Remote work demands a high level of self-discipline, self-motivation and self-organizing skills. Therefore,  you need to choose a candidate who has had at least some success working remotely.

You’ve probably heard about successful companies that work entirely remotely, such as Groove, Basecamp, and Buffer. Their inspiring stories encourage lots of startups to work as a distributed team. Just keep in mind that before they succeeded they put in a lot of effort to create an effective remote working culture.

Another point that is often overlooked is that when hiring overseas remote employees you need to deal with international money transfers and compliance with a tax structure you are unlikely to be familiar with.


Hiring a custom software development company

A custom software company is basically a ready-to-hire remote team.

There are dozens of different companies on the market, but their scale, experience and expertise varies. They can work as a temporary team on specific projects or dedicated, long-term as an extension of your in-house team. The common feature they all have is a complete infrastructure that can provide the full software development lifecycle service.

That means that in addition to the development team you get project managers and team leaders who will organize the process, keep it on time and in budget, and discuss it with you at whatever level you choose, from overview to in-depth detail.

Hiring a custom software development company is the best solution for projects such as MVPs, complex iterations, or large projects requiring innovative technologies. And because these companies value their reputation, they are careful with IP and confidentiality.

Choosing the right partner can be a long process as well, but after signing a contract everything moves faster. An experienced team, with established processes of communication and collaboration, can achieve results faster than a newly-met group, no matter how skilled the developers.

Many of the best custom software houses are overseas, which allows you to take advantage of substantial compensation differences. And because you pay the company they are the ones who deal with taxes, benefits, policies, management, etc.


Which should you choose?

That depends on your needs. What are your technical requirements? How complex is your project? Does it demand a widespread skill set or rare talents and knowledge? What is your number one priority, time or money? How much do you want to be involved in the process?

All that requires you to carefully think through your decision to ensure it is the best one for you.

While there are several approaches, they all carry one major benefit: each allows your business to grow fast and independent of the local talent pool.

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