Outsourcing is an integral part of today’s software development market. As both the demand and costs keep climbing, it makes perfect sense to explore the alternative ways for launching new applications faster, better — and cheaper.
But is it realistic to attain all three parameters at once? Can you outsource product development and still retain competitive advantage?
Professionals in the technology industry understand that today’s customer-oriented market is driven by speed and agility. Severe competitiveness and ever-growing users’ needs dictate the time to market that seemed unrealistic a few years ago.
This is why MVP (minimum viable product) development is a trend that has emerged out of necessity and will stay with us through the years. It doesn’t matter whether you are a young startup or a mature enterprise, launching your new tech idea as an MVP is wise.
The question is, should you complete it in-house, or is it better to outsource? To understand this, let’s begin with the general idea of MVP.
What Is an MVP? (and What It Is Not)
The aim of creating a minimum viable product, i.e., prototype, is not to guess and predict but to test and know for sure. What exactly are we testing here? Take the riskiest assumptions, ask the questions the answers to which will be a life-or-death matter for your product, and design the MVP according to these needs. This process should be relatively fast and cheap, so you can regroup and try once again if needed.
Usually, businesses design an MVP to find out the demand or even the existence of the market as such. Next, they establish the users’ needs and brainstorm ways to satisfy them most efficiently. Everything’s done in practice instead of theorizing and assuming. And while companies usually know what basic features to include in their MVP, they should also remember the following:
- MVP is not a market-ready product. It can be profitable, but it’s not a guarantee of success for the final product.
- You can’t test all your assumptions with a single MVP. That’s why evaluating the priority of questions is necessary.
With today’s race towards innovations, testing the initial idea is even more critical. However, bringing a market-ready product, packed with the latest tech, can be risky and quite expensive. This is where outsourcing can come to the fore.
Outsourcing MVP Development: When Is It a Good Idea?
The experience of some tech giants suggests that you should outsource an MVP. Among success stories are Alibaba, Slack, Github, and many more.
However, we haven’t heard about those who failed, right? So, the task of any business planning to outsource prototyping is to weigh all pros and cons before going all in. In the case of MVP, companies usually plan to probe the waters, and they have limited budgets and strict deadlines for that. The good thing about outsourcing MVP development, however, is that it can satisfy these requirements. So, when does it make sense to look for MVP outsourcing?
You Lack Specific Technical Expertise
Finding software developers with the right skills to match the tech requirements is a serious challenge for any company. Employing professionals capable of working with the latest technology from scratch (which is what one needs with MVP) is an even more daunting task.
If we refer to the USA, only six out of ten tech positions were filled by US employers in 2019. And we won’t even start on the cost of closing those positions. By choosing to outsource prototyping, businesses have a wider spectrum of possibilities. They not only access a bigger talent pool but also can find a better match of expertise and cost than the local market offers.
You’d Like to Diversify Risks
By outsourcing MVP development to an experienced tech partner, a company that lacks specific expertise in the field can concentrate their core team’s efforts on the business side of product development. At the same time, a vendor will deal with R&D for the minimal viable product. This way, the job will be done more efficiently.
Also, outsourcing gives businesses more agility and better control over cash flow. It allows changing team composition due to the changing needs of the project — and the outsourcing company usually takes care of this need by itself.
To stay on the safe side, a company can choose the level of its involvement in the development process. Experienced outsourcing companies offer various service models, with different levels of customer involvement — from direct one when they are responsible for managing developers directly (staff augmentation) to a more hands-off approach like a project-based service model.
You Need a Second Opinion on Product Development
It’s great if a company has a CTO or a partner with technical expertise to control the MVP development. But it is not always the case. Then, getting an experienced vendor to take on the technical side of MVP creation is critical.
Starting from the key architectural decisions and ending up with multiple iterations, you can create your MVP together, tapping into the niche expertise of an outsourcing company. Also, the ability to ramp up the development team fast, and according to the customer’s tech needs will correspondingly increase the product’s time to market.
When Outsourcing MVP Development Isn’t the Best Idea
While there are many arguments for the MVP development outsourcing, sometimes companies choose to keep all the development in-house. Here’s why:
- You are bound by compliance. Specific industries, e.g., healthcare, finances, insurance, implicate regulatory obligations that affect the type and scope of outsourced services, among other issues.
- Security concerns. A company possesses sensitive data that cannot be exposed to third parties, or an MVP itself is an NDA-based project.
- No green light from investors. Quite often, investors and VCs funding a startup require in-house product development.
In the cases listed above, companies can look for niche talent among temporary contractors and local contingent workers.
Many companies are successfully outsourcing MVP development, but there are still weighty reasons to keep it in-house. Either way, the success depends greatly on the well-thought-out requirements and the efficient cooperation between a product or idea owner and the service provider – outsourcing company, contractor, or other. It’s better to over-communicate the scope, deadlines, and cost of product development than overdo the entire MVP afterward. And when time is critical, and there’s not enough tech expertise on board, entrusting your idea to a reliable outsourcing company can make the difference.
Get in touch with Edvantis to learn more about how we can help you with MVP development.