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Empowering Growth - Optimal Timing for Engaging External Software Development Partners

Goran Kalanj, CEO

In a previous article, I wrote about the debate between developing software internally or relying on an external partner. By combining internal and external software development teams, companies can achieve balance, mitigate risks, leverage external expertise, foster knowledge sharing and strengthen their software development capabilities for growth and success.

In this article, I will talk about the importance of the right timing for engaging external software development partners.

Companies Facing Internal Software Development Challenges

Companies that rely only on internal software development may find themselves in a situation where they struggle to hire software engineers needed to meet project deadlines. As a result, delivery timelines are missed, which leads to stakeholder dissatisfaction and increased pressure on the development department.

This heightened pressure, coupled with a shortage of developers and unsuccessful hiring attempts, further burdens internal developers. Eventually, they may choose to leave the company, placing additional strain on key engineers such as architects and tech leads, who must fill the gaps. This scenario often leads to a cycle of excessive overtime and heightened stress until even the key engineers depart. Consequently, the company not only faces a lack of capacity to achieve its objectives, but also loses a significant portion of its internal technical and business knowledge.

The Need for an External Partner Emerges

At this point, the company realizes that there is no alternative but to seek an external software development partner.

As a software development company with more than 15 years of experience, we have witnessed this scenario on numerous occasions. However, the journey from the decision to search for a software development company to the final selection and cooperation takes an additional and crucial six months. During this time, the pressure is high, the deadlines have already been missed, and the expectations from the external partner are often unreasonably high.

Moreover, there are usually no remaining internal resources available to provide business knowledge. Additionally, the lack of comprehensive and up-to-date documentation forces the external partner to navigate the application primarily through code reading, which is a suboptimal and time-consuming process. In such a firefighting situation, the onboarding process is ineffective, and the path to achieving team productivity and efficiency becomes lengthy, despite the urgent need for short-term results.

Unfortunately, at this point, there is no easy solution to this problem.

The Value of Early Engagement with an External Partner

The entire situation could have been prevented if an external partner had been onboarded earlier, while key engineers were still in the company and the situation was manageable.

Given the people-dependent nature of the engineering department, things can go bad very quickly. So, risk control and timely planning are crucial. Therefore, initiating collaboration with an external partner in a timely manner is of utmost importance.

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Benefits of Timely Onboarding

Often, clients understand that they will need an external partner to achieve their goals, but hesitate to initiate the process. This hesitation can stem from internal resistance, uncertainty about trying something new, or other factors. However, the primary reason is often the search for the perfect project, team setup, or type of work that would involve an external company.

While it is essential to consider the right project and onboarding process, the most important aspect is not to delay the start. Software development is highly dynamic and challenging to predict, making it impossible to find the perfect moment or situation. Starting early is far better than starting too late. It's important to remember that selecting and onboarding a partner takes time.

A good external team typically takes around 4-9 months to become productive after the start of cooperation, depending on the complexity of the business domain and the quality of onboarding. Although the team will be competent in relevant tools and programming technologies, they will have to learn customer specific staff like the business logic of application and how things are done inside of customer's organization. Therefore, it is important to find and onboard an external partner in a timely manner, when the project is not under excessive stress, allowing for a realistic timeframe for the team to reach full productivity and be prepared for future challenges.

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Optimal Project and Team Organization

In general, when considering project and team organization, it is beneficial to structure the project by dividing it into business domain groups or technical groups, which can then be assigned to an external partner team. If the architecture does not allow this approach, mixed teams from both internal and external engineers can be formed. This option is also good, but not as ideal as the first one.

When an external partner is onboarded and gains internal knowledge, they become a valuable asset in terms of scaling or downsizing the team as needed. New team members can be quickly added, and they can learn from experienced team members who have been involved in the project for a longer time and possess the required expertise. When utilized correctly and in a timely manner, the expertise of an external partner can provide a significant advantage and strengthen internal engineering capabilities.

Serengeti as a Potential External Software Development Partner

At Serengeti, we understand the challenges companies face when it comes to internal software development and the need for timely engagement with external partners. Our experienced team can help you overcome these challenges and accelerate your software development projects.

Don't wait until it's too late to seek external support. Schedule a call with Serengeti today to discuss your requirements and explore how we can become your trusted software development partner. Let's embark on a successful journey together!

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