Hire an agency, consultant, freelancer or employ?

Jul 23, 2020 · 4 min read

You may have just decided to implement a project - build a mobile app or develop a new API that requires expertise that is not in the company. Maybe the developer who has the knowledge in the company is not available. You will probably find that you have a few different options on how to proceed. Should you hire an agency, consulting firm, freelancer or employ? Here we list the pros and cons of each alternative.

No matter which option you choose, it is a significant investment, so it is wise to do a quick needs analysis before you start.

Here are some questions to help you clarify what needs you have:

  • What skills are needed?
  • What kind of skills do we currently have in the company?
  • When does the project need to be completed by?
  • Are there similar needs in other parts of the organisation or in other projects?

For a larger organisation, these questions may take longer to answer, however you can probably answer at least most of them. Below we have compared the different options in order to hopefully give you a better idea of ​​which route your project or company should pursue.

Web Agency

Benefits:

  • Full responsibility for the delivery. Agencies are often fully responsible for the project, including design, development and project management. This is of course a nice arrangement if you do not have time to be involved in the project, but can afford to pay.

  • Concept development and experience. Many times agencies are very good at helping you develop your idea and have a sense of what works.

  • Can take responsibility for operations and support. In most cases, agencies offer operations and support after projects are completed, which can be great if you do not want to do it yourself.

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive. An agency often works with customers intensively for a shorter period, which results in them having to take a relatively high price.

  • A bit of a black box. Sometimes it can be experienced as a black box to work with agencies, for example, you give some input and there will be some output, however you are usually not very involved in the process in between. This means that you rarely learn anything from the project, which makes it difficult to develop the idea yourself with your own internal team.

Employ

Benefits:

  • It is long-term. With the terms of employment that exist in Sweden, employment means a long-term investment from both parties. The person you hire (hopefully if you did the recruitment right) sees the job as a long-term commitment and not just a stepping-stone to something else.

  • Culture. It may be self-evident, but often it is easier to integrate a full-time employee into the company than a resource consultant or agency employee.

  • Loyalty. It may no longer be true now that millennials, who like to change jobs often , make up the majority of working people, but it could be said that an in-house employee is less likely to leave the company and have a "hidden agenda” (such as of additional sales of more projects, consultants etc.).

Disadvantages:

  • The time it takes to find a developer. If you are not a hot startup with a popular brand (think Spotify) it is not easy to find a good developer. Everyone who has tried knows. On average, it takes 4 months to recruit someone, which may require more time and resources than you have.

  • You do not know exactly what you are getting. It is difficult to get a candidate to do a smaller project or longer code tests even if you sell your company well. Therefore, it becomes difficult to know exactly how good the developer is, even if, on paper, the person is a perfect match.

  • Varied needs. For most companies, staffing needs go up and down. Regardless of whether it is a project that is not being implemented or down to poor economy in general in the company, it is expensive to have employees when the needs vary. Furthermore, having to dismiss staff is not fun.

Freelancer

Benefits:

  • Cost. A freelance developer rarely has any major expenses in the form of, for example, expensive offices. This usually results in a slightly lower hourly rate.

  • Become part of your team. A freelancer can easily be integrated into one’s company and is used to working with different types of people.

  • Flexibility. When you have a smaller project but do not know what needs there will be in the future, freelancers are a good fit. You can control the number of hours and project length according to actual needs.

  • Specialists Freelancers are often experts in a specific field. This means that you do not have to pay for someone to learn something new about the project, but your developer can deliver results from day one.

Disadvantages:

  • Requires that you know what you want. Given that freelancers often have very specific skills, it also requires that you as a client understand your needs very well.

Consultant

Benefits:

  • Greater breadth. A consultant often has a wider profile, finds it easy to learn and is a good problem solver.

  • Usually work on site with you. A consultant sometimes works in a team of similarly skilled consultants. Regardless of where you are, many consulting companies today try to work “with you” instead of “for you”, which means that as a client you become more involved than if you worked with an agency, for example.

Disadvantages:

  • Not always specialists. Often consultants have a broader profile, which means that they are not necessarily experts in the area you are looking for.

Even though you have mapped out your needs and gone through the options, it might still feel tricky to choose. It is important that the technology is built from scratch, and choosing the right developer, agency, consultant or freelancer can sometimes be difficult. If you need help, we at Proxify have built up a network of talented freelance developers that we have already tested and reviewed, so you don’t have to.