Outsourcing · Web Development

Outsourcing after the product is finished - what is the best way forward?

Philip Welber

March 26th, 2015

I have outsourced the development of my application and it will be finished in 3-4 weeks. When that's over, I will not have any technical team members and need to outsource the ongoing development and maintenance. Should I stick with the original dev team {they've done a good job} or go with the cheapest solution I can find {I'm funding this on my own}?

Mathieson Sterling Senior Software Engineer at Apprenda

March 26th, 2015

I've lead several overseas teams - as well as been hired more than once to clean up a mess from the same.

Keep your original team.  There's two reasons to do that.  First is that to bring a new software engineer onto a project has a minimum ramp up time, while they get familiar with the code.  This is much harder when the original author is not available.  

The second is that overseas contractors often do not write code designed to be maintainable or expandable.  It's simply not in their business model to do so.  But this does mean if you bring in another team they might immediately have to start rewriting the existing codebase to a large degree, costing you money to do so.

Hugo Messer

March 26th, 2015

I think it also depends on your satisfaction with the current team. In general, I strongly believe that you need to keep the existing people engaged, since they have the knowledge and built the system. If you transfer that, you always loose speed and money. 
If you believe your product will work out and you plan to build it for the longer term, it might make sense to find a long term cost-effective team. I am not sure if a pure focus on 'lowest cost' will help you. Low cost in software development is hard to judge, one team can spend 10-20 times more hours and some charge 10-20 times less than others. 
I would be glad to help you spot a strong team and talk you through the considerations

Rob Mitchell Senior Java Software Engineer at Direct Commerce

March 26th, 2015

As a startup or new product owner, you can't pay top dollar for the best people in every need/position so you're going to have to determine what you can and cannot pay for those things that are super-important and not-so-important. 

If you're main selling product is this software app and you're out of funds, then you're either going to have to partner with someone to take on the job for no funds in exchange for equity or at the very least a promissory note; or delay any fixes or enhancements until you have funds. Even then, you'll want to determine tradeoff between must-have and nice-to-have bug fixes and enhancements. 

Loads of money makes things easier, but where's the challenge in that? ;-)

Good luck!

Jesse Landry

March 26th, 2015

Eric, My experience is, although a great way to initially get out to market, those firms can only do just that; get the prototype built and don't have the bandwidth to scale a team - They are usually smaller, high quality shops, that will eventually have to pass off to a larger partner.

Another potential issue is their tech capabilities - A few I know only specialize in Ruby. That presents a problem for the future....


Matthew James

March 26th, 2015

All great insights on this thread. I had one thought. If you're looking to join an accelerator, most will reject you if you do not have a CTO Co-founder or technical employee that would be joining you (if you don't have any traction). If you can get into an Accelerator that will fund you without taking excessive equity, maybe you can try to.

If you want to go to market right away, skipping any BETA testing, likewise, it's best to hire someone if you can.  If your app is B2B. bigger clients will want to see that you have in-house developers, even if the team is distributed (Like Groove), https://www.groovehq.com/blog/being-a-remote-team

....and that you are NOT outsourcing. 

If its a consumer APP,and you are not seeking additional funding and not trying to join any accelerators, this might not matter as much. So as others have said, hire the best outsourcing team possible with your budget and or since your team has already built the product, they're already most familiar with the code so you can stick with them and add team technical team members as needed.


Eric Wold

March 26th, 2015

Philip,
My 2¢: Stay where you are. Keep burn as low as possible while you get to revenue stage.
All,
In future I hope to see more "full stack outsourcing incubator / VC combos" like this: http://www.science-inc.com/hypothesis.html. They are a one-stop shop for what you are doing. They will even invest by doing the dev and product work out of their funds.
What positives or negatives do you see in working with a hybrid Accelerator/VC like Science Inc? What do we even call this type of firm?
(I am NOT affiliated with them in any way)

Ken Vermeille Founder

March 26th, 2015

Hi Phillip, I can understand that at this stage of your startup you may want to cut costs especially if you believe that there isn't a lot of work to be done. However, In my experience switching teams right before the launch almost always goes awry. You do have a couple of options, your best bet is to find a technical co-founder that you can trust. Someone who can get into your codebase, understand the architecture, and jump in to make improvements and fix bugs. While you're searching for the co-founder you can keep the original development team on a retainer or offer the original team some equity in your company. 

Above all steer clear of outsourcing your completed project overseas. As a founder you will feel more comfortable working with someone who you can see in person over a cup of coffee. Finally, you get what you pay for, unfortunately I've run into clients who decided to take the same route that you're considering and eventually they end up spending more (paying the overseas team and paying my team) to complete their project.

Matias O'Keefe

March 26th, 2015

Hello Phillip,
I normally recommend my clients to keep a close look on expenses until they proove product-market fit. 

Do I believe the answer would depend on what stage your startup is in. 
If you are already getting users and gave a clear proof that your product is working, I would recommend starting to have a closer grip on development, maybe you can achieve that with a different (more long term) arrangement with your actual vendor.

George Lambert Interim CTO - CTO's for Hire

March 26th, 2015

Before u consider any of that you need to evaluate your operations plans. What are the short term deployment concerns. One this is resolved you can evaluate who can wok in a complementary way make sure that you have a disaster recovery and plan.

Steve Owens

March 26th, 2015

The most expensive mistake I ever made was hiring a cheap lawyer. Always hire the best people you can find and figure out how to pay them. Steve Owens - Finish Line PDS A Better Way for Small Companies to Develop Products e | Steve.Owens@FinishLinePDS.com p | 603 880 8484 w | www.FinishLinePDS.com 94 River Rd | Hudson, NH | 03051 Click for Product Development White Papers ---- On Thu, 26 Mar 2015 06:54:38 -0400 Philip Welber<reply+dsc+2574@founderdating.com> wrote ---- FD:Discuss New Discussion on Outsourcing after the product is finished. Best way forward? Started by Philip Welber Vice President, Recruiting, Wimbledon Group, Inc.. I have outsourced the development of my application and it will be finished in 3-4 weeks. When that's over, I will not have any technical team members and need to outsource the ongoing development and maintenance. Should I stick with the original dev team {they've done a good job} or go with the cheapest solution I can find {I'm funding this on my own}? FOLLOW DISCUSSION or Reply Directly to this email to participate in the discussion Manage your email notifications