IT Team or IT Solution? A Key Question for Startups
Carefully defining what kind of IT resources are needed to grow and maintain a company is essential for success.
You’ve got a great concept. The business plan has been drafted, and you’re ready to start building your team. From marketing professionals to content creators, salespeople, business development specialists and logistics – establishing the right balance of talent and human resources is perhaps the most important process in giving a business the chance it needs to get off the ground and succeed.
The question of having a digital presence or not is no longer really a question: it’s simply a necessity in today’s world that has only been made more intense by the effects of the pandemic on communities and economies across the planet.
So, for anyone considering launching a new business – whether it’s a one-person startup selling handmade products, to an ambitious project to disrupt an entire industry – choosing the right kind of IT resources is absolutely pivotal to a company’s success.
You may know you’ll need a website that can be reflexive and constantly updated with new content and upgraded offerings. You might also want a smartphone app to showcase your products and/or services. But what does that mean in terms of hiring IT professionals? Do you need a full-time, in-house team? How big does the team need to be, and what kind of development specialists will you require? Or, can you outsource your software needs to an IT development company?
These are the questions we’ll be trying to answer in this article. We’ll do that by highlighting and explaining some of the more specific questions you need to ask yourself about your company, its strategy, and what kind of digital requirements you envisage it needing in the short, medium and long-term.
What kind of digital assets will I need?
This might seem like an obvious question, but it’s important to consider it carefully. Do you just need a simple website, or would also having a smartphone app improve your chances of success? What about the software that your own employees will use to communicate, and to keep records of your operations and customer data?
Asking these types of questions will allow you to gain a clearer picture of what you will need to be built from scratch (e.g. your website), and what you can obtain from pre-existing software that is already available (e.g. Slack and Excel).
How much customization will my software require?
Once you’ve understood what kind of digital assets you’ll need, the next step is to get a clear idea of the level of customization that will be required when designing, building and configuring these assets.
A company that has decided it wants to build the next disruptive platform – for example the next Airbnb or Spotify – will obviously need to have a large team of full-time talented developers that can actually build this new technology from the ground up.
But for most companies, which simply need technological assets that are not proprietary, more simple software solutions can be a better choice than a large team.
For example, most retail startups will need a reflexive website with e-commerce functionality, a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to aggregate and make sense of your customers’ behavior, and backend software to manage your own internal communications, inventory and operations. These kinds of digital assets can be created by external teams relatively easily, without the need for you to invest in an in-house development team.
How many coding languages will we need for our digital assets?
Coding is a complex process that is made even more nebulous by the existence of multiple different languages – such as Python, Java, Objective-C – the list goes on.
Each coding language is specially designed to excel in the creation or serve certain specific types of software, from different platforms to functionalities. Understanding what coding language – or languages – will be best suited to producing the software for your business is a key step in the journey to establishing the right software development approach.
As a general rule of thumb, developers tend to specialize in one or a few development languages, but finding one that is highly proficient in multiple languages is rare. Indeed, the time it takes to master a development language is significant, and being proficient in a coding language means constantly keeping up to date with its evolutions. So, it’s simply very difficult – if not impossible – for an individual to master many of them at the same time.
Choosing an in-house developer to design your software development strategy will often result in the developer opting for what they know best, or what they believe will work the best. However, an external development company has the benefit of larger resources and experience to configure the right type of development team specialized in the optimum coding language for your specific needs.
Using an external development team as your software provider also has the benefit of not being restricted to your specific geographical location, thus providing access to a wider pool of talents with a more diverse proficiency in different coding languages, which may suit your specific context and requirements more optimally.
What level of IT support will I need long-term?
The final important question to ask yourself when choosing how you are going to obtain and maintain your digital assets is how much upkeep and technical input you are going to require once they are up and running.
Of course, in an ideal world, software would be built once and then just run smoothly thereafter. However, reality is different: websites crash, bugs can appear, and there is a need for software to be maintained just like any other machine.
Added to that, beyond just maintenance, software also needs to be updated and refreshed in order to keep up with evolving technical possibilities, in order that your company’s digital assets do not fall behind the competition.
While some companies that are involved in providing complex software-based solutions may very well need an in-house development team to constantly upgrade and tweak their software, many companies simply need periodic upgrades and refreshment works, which can be easily achieved by an external team.
Furthermore, even large software companies such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook also outsource software maintenance and upgrade needs to external teams, so that their own teams can focus on more core areas of their own business.
Ultimately, it comes down to truly understanding what your software needs are going to be, and this is a point that can often not be fully ascertained until your digital assets are up and running.
However, a reliable and professional development team will be able to give you a clear indication of the types of resources and input that will be required to maintain and upgrade your software assets according to your specific needs and context. And if you already have pre-existing software that has been built in the past, it is also highly recommended to have a specialist provider carry out a Technical Audit in order to have a systematic and organized view of what improvements need to be made.
Bocasay’s development teams spread across four countries are specialized in working with businesses to build, maintain and improve their software and digital assets, using a wide range of coding languages and development approaches. We adapt our approach according to each project’s unique requirements, and work closely with business owners to fine-tune the optimum arrangement for their needs.
Are you in the process of planning your business launch and need some software built? Or do you already have your software, but need it improved? Get in touch and we can start discussing how we’re going to achieve it.