Software considerations: Should you use an in-house team?

Weighing up the pros and cons of bringing software teams in-house can be like wading through treacle: so here are some short-cuts to make sure you arrive at the right decision.

The world of modern technology is one that evolves at a frightening pace. The virtual vogue (such as responsive web design) one minute can be rendered crass and clunky the next. This means software developers need to keep their fingers on the pulse if they want to remain in business.

Having the ability to react and adapt to the changing dynamics of the online community isn’t easy, especially if the company in question isn’t technologically minded. To combat this, companies often enlist the help of third-party software developers in order to handle their virtual platforms. However, this strategy can often be expensive and time-consuming.

Third-party vendors often have a collection of clients they have to attend to and that means any changes take time to come into effect. Because of this lag, many of the biggest online operators in the world now do the bulk of their software design and implementation in-house. By employing a dedicated team to handle all the online operations, companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are able to push out changes ahead of the competition.

In fact, by employing an in-house software team, companies are able to become leaders in their field and innovate simply because the developers have time to focus on a single product and not the needs of ten or more clients. Moreover, because the developers have time to explore their industry and look for gaps in the market, it helps to breed more creativity and, therefore, individuality in any product they create.

Of course, there are also some negatives to employing an in-house software team, so it’s important to run through some of the plus and minus points:

The Positives:

  • Highly Customisable Software: By using an in-house team, companies can tailor their product to suit their needs from the start. This makes a product easier to adjust in the future. Contrast this with third-party software that may need to be re-engineered to suit a purpose and the benefits of an in-house team for a forward-thinking company are clear.
  • Great Control: A company that creates its own software has greater control of the product at all stages in the design and implementation process. This means that elements have been tweaked or removed depending on the overall aim of the product / company.
  • Better Support: Having direct access to a network of technical support – i.e. the people that designed the product – is invaluable for a company. Being able to fix faults and address problems in a more efficient manner means time and, therefore, money saved.

The Negatives:

  • A Lack of Expertise: It can often be the case that an in-house design team is made up of generalists and not specialists. This can sometimes lead to issues when it comes to creating a sophisticated piece of software.
  • Greater Cost: Although the cost of any software team isn’t cheap, employing an in-house team, especially if you need to recruit specialists, can be costly. Although these costs can often be offset over time, the initial outlay may be greater than some companies can handle.
  • Unique Means Unique: While a unique product is a great selling point for any company, the inherent danger of this quality is that it probably won’t be scalable. As external platforms evolve, it may become difficult to adjust a product to suit the new online environment if it’s too unique.

In-House Design in Practice

Google: Probably the most innovative company with an in-house software team is the business powerhouse, Google. Worth over $360 billion, Google has built up a fearsome reputation in the business world and that’s due, in part, to its software. Unlike other companies that may experience some of the negatives associated with using an in-house design team, Google is often the one setting the trends which means it doesn’t have to switch up its products quite as much.

Staples: Another global brand that’s recently made a move towards an in-house software team is Staples. The stationary giant has seen its revenues slip since 2012, but in an effort to keep pace with the modern world and become a force in the digital sphere, the company’s CEO, Tom Conophy, has placed more emphasis on internal design.

Stating that the reduced reliance on outside vendors should help the company reinvent itself and become better placed to react to the ever-changing market, Conophy hopes the new strategy will prompt an upward shift in profits for the first time in three years.

PokerStars: Following the trend of online operators relying on their own technicians to craft preparatory software is online poker operator, PokerStars. Known universally as the biggest brand in its field, PokerStars has created a number of in-house features that have gone on to spark a new trend in the iGaming industry.

One of the company’s latest product releases in recent years was a newly designed interface dubbed PokerStars 7. Taking the concept of a poker lobby to a new level, the software not only makes finding a game more efficient but gives users more information (both related to their account and the poker world as a whole) all through a single portal.

To Stay In or Go Out?

The decision to use an in-house software team isn’t one a company should enter into lightly. Initial set-up costs can often be high and the ability to scale products can sometimes be tricky. However, if it’s possible to keep these costs to an affordable level, then there is a lot of merit to using an internal service.

Having the ability to react to industry developments and problems in a more efficient manner is highly valuable for any business looking to become a leader in its field. Indeed, the companies outlined in this article have all risen to the top of their industries by giving customers a unique, efficient and well-crafted online experience. Being able to stand out from the crowd in the online arena isn’t easy, but if you choose to have an in-house design team it will be a lot easier.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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