Iversoft's CEO Graeme Barlow explains how the dedicated team model improves flexibility and scalability for clients.
You’re making an app. You have the idea and you know it’s exactly what your audience wants. What you don’t have is a team to build it. Without a team, you don’t know how long it will take or what technical resources you’ll need.
You’re likely familiar with the conventional approach: Find some development companies, pitch them the concept, cross your fingers, and wait for a quote that fits your bottom line. Then you hope with all your might that the company you just chose produces what you want.
Traditional fixed bid development contracts rarely make you feel like you’re part of the team. You have the idea; they do the building. But what if it didn’t have to be like that? Enter: dedicated teams.
What are Dedicated Teams?
Dedicated teams are exactly what they sound like: a team of dedicated technical resources committed solely to your project.
Is that different from a traditional quote model? Yes, it is. Under the conventional model, you ask the company to look at your entire project and make assumptions about the time and resources required to build it. You pay a set fee for the completion of the described job. This type of arrangement works well for short-term projects with specific requirements and scope of work.
Have a nearly-finished project, one that just needs an update, or has a clear breakdown of action items to be completed? Amazing. The conventional quote model is by far the most efficient option for you.
But what if you aren’t a technical expert? What if you’re unsure of exactly what needs to happen to build the stunning software of your dreams? What if you want hands-on oversight at every step of development?
These needs can be difficult to scope out in advance.
Under a dedicated team model, you sign an agreement in which the vendor company provides a team of professionals needed to do the job. You then work with that team on a longer-term basis to reach your goals. This means working in phases and checking in as you go. This makes dedicated teams a more efficient choice when the scope of work is not clearly defined or may be subject to change.
Here’s an example: Imagine you operate an organization that has lots of seasonal hires. Your company has decided to start providing a daily lunch for all employees for the next year. The challenge is that you don’t know how many employees you’ll hire during the next seasonal rush. You have two options for hiring a caterer:
- Fixed Bid:
Pay a catering company a flat fee to deliver a predetermined volume and type of food every day for the year.
- Dedicated Team:
Sign a monthly rolling contract for a minimum of 6 months to get a personal catering team to provide customized daily lunch options for the number of employees you have working during that particular season.
Given your unique needs, option two is the best fit. It offers the ability to scope and scale your options based on your changing needs.
This is the same as working with a dedicated team on software projects. So, why do so many businesses choose the conventional option?
More often than not, it’s out of familiarity – a sense of comfort in what is known. Change can be difficult, but there is much to be gained by changing to an approach that better meets your needs.
Lower Margins of Error
Dedicated team development is based on sprints that take everything step by step. As a result, it’s easier to manage scope and scale over time. If we can do it faster or cheaper, those financial savings are yours.
Because of the lower margin of error in estimation, dedicated teams are far less costly in the long run.
With fixed bids, the service provider must mitigate the risk of scope creep to protect themselves. This means that companies need to overestimate the cost of production. If they don’t, they end up absorbing the cost or charging additional fees down the line. And if they finish faster or use fewer resources, you still pay the overhead.
Dedicated Teams Provide Increased Flexibility
Dedicated teams offer increased flexibility over a fixed-bid counterpart. With a dedicated team, your project can flex, grow, shrink, or pivot as your needs change. This is because the breakdown of the team model is based on working sprints, not project completion.
The goal of the dedicated team is not to get the project done by a committed deadline. It is to get the best product possible at the end of that dedicated sprint.
Let’s return to the catering example. If you choose to sign a fixed bid contract for the year, you risk incorrectly estimating how much food you need. What if you need to hire more staff than you originally planned? What if your awesome new seasonal hire has a deadly allergy?
Suddenly, your caterer must pivot to meet your needs. For the caterer to cover the cost of those changes, the price will change for you.
But if you are working under a flexible model, this issue is non-existent.
When you jump on your weekly call with your caterer to review the menu, you can provide updates on numbers and dietary restrictions.
The same concept applies to a software development dedicated team. You work with the developers on an ongoing basis and they’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t month by month. If you need to do the software equivalent of pivoting menu plans or adapting to staff changes, you have the flexibility to do so.
The traditional fixed bid model is great if you know exactly what you want and what you’ll need to get there. Small, meticulously planned and outlined projects fit the bill. Anything that might shift or adapt during development doesn’t.
This leads to one of the most critical questions you can ask yourself before a project starts: How confident are you that your project won’t change or run into any major hurdles?
Estimating the cost of a project comes with risks. No matter what model you choose, quotes cost money.
When you assess the needs of your project, it is crucial to consider the phase of development at which you’re starting. This is another way dedicated teams increase cost-efficiency. When paired with a professional discovery and planning phase, a dedicated team is one of the most cost-effective models available, as this is scoped incrementally, versus a lump sum.
When you plan with your dedicated team, every step is well-defined, clearly outlined, and properly vetted. This means that your quote is as accurate as possible, as there is less need to overestimate the scope-creep on a project. With dedicated teams, there will be few (if any) surprises.
The result? A reduced margin of error resulting in financial savings for your bottom line.
With the traditional model, you might be tempted to seek the lowest bidder, but you’re putting yourself at risk of sacrificing quality for cost. When prioritizing quotes from parties offering to get the job done cheaper, you are inadvertently putting quality second. Unfortunately, that often results in costly surprises down the line.
Some companies will present a low initial bid and then depend on expensive change requests to make up the difference. As the project moves forward, you find yourself being nickel-and-dimed while scrambling to ensure the project is still meeting your standard.
Lower Upfront Costs
With a dedicated team contract, there’s less upfront cost. When looking at a fixed bid, where the total cost is (hopefully) indicated all at once, there’s a high risk of sticker shock. You’re also on the hook to commit to the whole amount, no matter what. That’s not the case with a dedicated team.
A dedicated team has a lower price of entry. It’s also open-ended, which mitigates the risk of paying up-front. You don’t have an end-goal guarantee, but you get increased control over the process. The product you get will be precisely what you want.
A fixed bid model means that everyone is focused on one thing: completing your project on time and within budget.
The dedicated team model shifts that focus. Suddenly, it’s about progressing to the next phase. In short, the focus shifts from the bottom line to the product quality–all without surprise expenses.
Enhanced Control & Oversight
A dedicated team works with you during discovery and planning. Everyone on the team is in line with your vision from the start.
Your vision is essential throughout development.
Did the feature you thought you wanted not work out? No problem, we’ll do something else without a costly change request. Instead, the pivot gets worked into the next development sprint.
Because you’re part of the process, you have more time to play with the product during development. One of the critical issues with the fixed bid model is that you may not get to test your product until specific points. That’s not true with the dedicated team model.
With a dedicated team, you’ll find out what works – and what doesn’t – sooner. It’ll save your money, our time, and you’ll get a better product because of it.
Just as you have more engagement in the development process with a dedicated teams model, your development team has more engagement in the entire lifecycle of your software.
Better Long-Term Accountability
Dedicated teams can focus on your product’s quality because we don’t need to protect ourselves. The decisions we make are what’s best for the project, not the project’s scope.
The project manager must focus on profit margins in a fixed bid contract. In a dedicated team, they can focus on producing the best product within the timeline.
Dedicated teams have stronger foundations and history with your project. In our experience, there’s less employee turnover on a project with a long-term, dedicated team. With a fixed-bid model, it doesn’t matter who works on your project, so long as it finished on time and on budget. Dedicated teams are, as the name suggests, dedicated to your project.
Having a dedicated team enhances project flow, knowledge transfer, and retention during times of flux.
For example, there is a much smoother transition between development and support. With a fixed bid contract, there is often a gap between these two stages. A dedicated team removes the disconnect as most issues are fixed with you during development.
In the end, long-term accountability results in high-quality products. In a dedicated team, we search for solutions to challenges rather than asking if we have the budget to solve it.
We’ve talked about some very real advantages to dedicated teams. So why isn’t everyone jumping on the dedicated team model?
What Are Some Common Concerns About Dedicated Team Models?
Regardless of the benefits of dedicated teams, it’s still reasonable to ask the important questions. What are the factors that help determine if this model is right for your company’s project?
Isn’t all this ambiguity risky for my company and me?
There’s risk in everything. That said, unless you know exactly what you want from day one, there’s actually more risk in a fixed bid contract. What if you invest all that money and you don’t even like what you get?
This still requires a lot of trust. How do I know I can trust you?
Iversoft has over 10 years of experience designing, building, and maintaining custom apps, software, websites, and more. We’ve worked on 200+ apps that have millions of downloads. Check out our projects page to see a few of our previous projects.
Isn’t hiring a dedicated team like creating an unknown project cap? Why would I sign a blank cheque?
In a way, it is. But it’s flexible, and you’re not paying a large amount upfront. It’s broken into smaller pieces over a longer period of time, and there are no painful and costly change request fees. Plus, you’re in control. You sign on to an initial term, but the rest is up to you.
The quality of your product is the number one priority.
When you think about the product you want your users to have, start by looking at the resources you know you have and the resources you know you need. If you have a project with a clear, direct goal and outlined actionable steps, you would be right to consider a fixed bid model. It’ll likely be the most cost-effective option.
But for a project still in the ideation phase, or any other area of estimated unknowns, a dedicated team model will make a quality-centric and cost-effective option.
The dedicated team model can save you time and money, enhance quality, keep you in the loop, and allow for more flexibility during development. But at the end of the day, what really matters is that you love your product.
Whether you are looking for a fixed bid model to get your project over the finish line, or a dedicated team to move with your product every step of the way, we are confident we can find a solution right for your product. Interested in finding out more? Come say hello.