When undertaking a custom software development project, one of the earliest decisions to be made is how the project work is to be completed. If you are not undertaking the work in-house, then the other options are using a freelance software developer or a software development company. There are differences to the abilities and suitability of these options to consider.
Freelance Software Development
A freelance software developer is an individual software engineer who will undertake a software development project. Typically, they will undertake a single project at a time, and almost become a member of your team. The work style of each individual freelancer will vary. Some will work very closely with you throughout development whilst others will produce the software more independently based on the requirements you have provided.
Software Development Company
A software development company has a team of software engineers, as well as other team members such as account managers, project managers, finance, marketing and sales. Software development companies may have a broad range of project types they deliver (e.g. websites, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, mobile apps, etc.) or they may have a specialism.
Our blog What a Custom Software Development Company Does explains software development companies in greater detail.
Freelance Vs Software Development Company
Skills & Experience
With a software development company, you have a pool of expertise to draw from. Depending on the size and skills of the developers, your project can benefit from more skills than an individual developer is likely to have and more overall experience. The freelancer is likely to have a specialism that they work in such as mobile app development, whereas a company may produce various types of software. This can make a significant difference if your project requires multiple systems, such as an app that integrates with a CRM system.
Having multiple developers also means the project is considered from multiple perspectives. The saying goes that two heads are better than one, with a software development company you can benefit from many heads. While your project will likely consist of a subset of software engineers from the company, if they encounter any issues or want to discuss the best way to complete something, they have more team members they can approach for advice.
A single freelance engineer will have complete control over all aspect of the development and an understanding of the work. However, a software development company will have quality controls in place. These include a technical lead to oversee the project and testers to thoroughly test the solution for bugs. You will also have a project manager who liaises with you and the development team to understand all aspects of the project and address issues.
A freelancer is likely to undertake one project at a time. So once a freelancer is available to work on your project, they are able to fully prioritise that project. A software development company will communicate to you their ways of working so that you can set your expectations. It may be that the team for your project is 100% dedicated to your project and so prioritisation is guaranteed. Alternatively, they may move developers depending on required skills or the priority of the work and its impact across projects.
With multiple software engineers working concurrently, the speed with which they can complete work is higher. With software development companies, you will also likely have a project manager who can coordinate between the client and developers which also saves developers’ time. A freelancer will undertake the work alone and be responsible for client communications and any other work such as creating proposals, requirements gathering and invoicing. In a software development company this work is spread out across specialisms.
The choice between freelancer and a software development company will always be dependent upon your project and your preferences. Outlined above are many of the considerations you should take into account when making your decision. No matter what your project is, we hope this guide helps you decide your way forward to a successful custom software.
Interested in using a software development company? Check out our guide on How to Choose a Software Development Company. Our blog on how to get an app developed covers the advantages and disadvantages of working with a freelancer, in-house developer and a software development company.