Hiring an external software development partner: why and how


Maryna Romantsova

Brand Writer
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Hiring an external software development partner can turn out to be a great decision or a complete disaster. The benefit is that such teams often have unique experiences dealing with tricky tasks and can offer fresh problem-solving perspectives. Collaboration can open new horizons and take the product to the next level. However, there is a drawback: finding a suitable contractor is not a piece of cake.

Our co-founder, Serhiy Oplakanets, and CTO, Taras Kunch, shared their thoughts on why businesses should involve external software development teams and how to choose the perfect partner.

Reasons to hire an external software development team

Cost. Outsourcing is often cheaper. High-skilled engineers are expensive in many local markets, so external hiring is a viable option to save money while keeping the same (or even higher) level of expertise. 

Flexible workforce. Involving external specialists is a great option when you need to test and implement ideas quickly and with low risk. This is ideal for seasonal work or short-term projects where you need extra resources to implement a solution and then maintain it with a small in-house team.

However, at Rebbix, we’re not on the side of short-term projects. 

Serhiy Oplakanets, co-founder
Serhiy Oplakanets, co-founder

Serhiy: "Team motivation is the key to the product's success. Short-term or seasonal work has a higher risk of poor motivation, as the development team may see it as just a one-time project that eventually becomes "someone else's problem." That's why, at Rebbix, we focus on building long-term partnerships. Our teams are committed to the success of the products they work on, treating them as their own. We maintain, grow, and develop products to achieve long-term business goals."

Specific expertise. Hiring takes time and money. When you need to implement specific features ASAP, you may not have the time and resources to expand your internal team; developing the necessary skills within your in-house specialists is also time-consuming. In such cases, bringing in external engineering teams with the right mindset, skills, and proven expertise is a good solution. 

Serhiy: "For example, large corporations often involve external partners to create prototypes, pivots, and MVPs. Due to their size and corporate culture, big businesses often have processes and mindsets geared toward incremental growth and cautiousness. However, for R&D work, the approach and team culture must be different. Unconventional ideas require speed, boldness, and even audacity. Also, to validate hypotheses quickly, an ability to deliver fast is a must-have skill, as well as the flexibility to change processes that don't work. And this is where an external partner can benefit the large business with the approaches and expertise they lack."

Tech skill set. Sometimes, local teams fail to deal with challenges within the product they work on. They may lack the experience and expertise to make major changes or scale. With time, these issues may severely influence processes. When everything is on fire, it’s time to seek external help. This is not the safest option for the CTO and CEO, as involving more qualified external specialists is highly demoralizing for the in-house team. However, it should be done in case of severe risks to the business.

Why not hire instead of outsourcing? Because of speed and time. Expertise, experience, and team culture are also important. When local leadership fails to solve long-term tech issues, in-house hiring is risky because of bringing in people with similar mindsets. As a result, nothing will change.

Taras Kunch, CTO

Taras: "Most of the issues we face are not rocket science. However, the problem usually lies in the approach. Businesses often need a fresh perspective from the outside, and involving partners can help companies receive an unbiased view of their software. Frequently, external teams aren't afraid to change or even throw something away. For the in-house teams, it's often a psychological moment; it can be challenging to let go of something you have been working on for a long time. However, it won't be so for the external team. From their perspective, it can help solve business issues and reduce the cost of maintaining solutions that don't work."

Strengthen the in-house team. Building hybrid teams with a mix of in-house and external specialists can be a good option, but it should be done correctly. In our experience, vertical integration works best, allowing development teams to bring their best approaches. It also helps build seamless team cooperation by minimizing the impact of different company cultures and other bottlenecks. 

Taras: "You must carefully evaluate whether you need a horizontally or vertically integrated team. Horizontal integration is good when you want to isolate a team of inexperienced engineers or when you have big chunks of very well-defined work. We prefer vertical integration when our team is involved in every stage, from product discussion to maintaining its work in production. Vertical integration allows us to be agile and move faster with smaller steps. Plus, it allows us to utilize the full potential of our people."

How to choose your best partner

Choose the one who cares. The right partner is committed to your product's results. The team engages in discussions about your product and business, understands your challenges, and strives to solve them. Their eyes light up. This works exactly as with your in-house team — if you want your product to succeed, look for people who are truly passionate and genuinely care.

Taras: "If you want your contractors to care about your product and challenges, get them involved in discussions about what's needed and why."

Look for a match. Choose a partner you're comfortable with from the very beginning. If you feel like you're from `different planets,` it's best to reconsider the partnership, as it often leads to long-term cultural fit issues.

Serhiy: "If you don't feel understood during the initial meetings, move on. Find a partner who understands your challenges and has enough experience to argue the case. One of our customers often called us a `sparring partner`. They greatly appreciated our ability to pitch product ideas and have in-depth conversations about whether this is a good solution or not."

Ask for references. A common fear is partnering with someone unreliable and, as a result, wasting time and money. That's why choosing a contractor with recommendations and clients' testimonials is essential. A reliable partner who delivers excellent results will happily provide references, often with similar cases. Also, you can ask their clients for feedback — people who are grateful for good work will gladly share their positive experiences.

Be flexible. Don't listen to the typical advice, such as fixing the scope or defining the project in every detail. In today's world, everything changes quickly, and you can never be completely sure what will work in the end. Modern approaches are based on the scientific method: you define a hypothesis, test it, and repeat until you find the one that works.

Serhiy: "When you set up the right processes with your external product engineering team, it's like working with your in-house specialists — the only difference is that the outsourcer handles the administrative tasks of hiring, contracts, and more. Strive to work with an outsourcer as transparently as with your internal team. In our experience, this is the approach that brings the best results."

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