Friday, February 5, 2010

Developers sought! Is it better to find a freelancer or to engage with a company?


There are many materials on the web how to choose between service provider and freelance workers. However, inspired by this question on startups.com, I decided to summarize this and to brainstorm this question further with our readers. Yes you are reading a blog of a service provider company, but this post’s purpose is to help find the best solution. So feel free to share your experience when working with freelancers as well as service providers. What would you recommend to keep in mind when selecting between these two options?
Companies that need to enhance their programming team face several options: to hire developers on payroll, to outsource, whether locally or overseas, or to engage with freelancers. It is well-known that freelancers tend to deliver more cost effectively yet there are some risks and inconvenient moments in contracting with freelancers.
Freelancer may appear to be a college student or a full-time employee with another company. He does not always have to protect his reputation. Yet every case is different, and of course the freelancers are not all the same. Although it seems like most brilliant minds would work for one or another company, that is not a rule. Some talented workers simply enjoy working from home and being able to select their customers. The point is to find and access such kind of freelancers.

Summarizing the reasons to hire a freelancer:
  • rare skills are sought, and there is a way to check the person’s competency
  • the job scope is clearly defined
  • project is rather short, in-time delivery is not critical
  • the job can be executed by a single person (as it might be difficult to coordinate the work of several freelancers as well as engage them into collaboration)
  • there is a way to check the intermediate release and assure that the contracted person will stay in touch frequently
The cases when it is better to select a service provider:
  • large project
  • broad range of expertise is required
  • intellectual property must be securely protected
  • the project will need to be enhanced or supported in the future

So I conclude that it is useful to have both freelancers and service providers in the network of contacts. Once you have a small project with clearly defined job scope and you have a reliable freelancer within your network, engaging with him may prove to bring success. For bigger projects that will be further developed and enhanced in the future, it is definitely better to approach service vendors.
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