Freelancer or Agency: Which Should You Hire?

Adriana Campoy
January 12, 2021

When you're looking for technical talent, is it better to opt for an individual freelancer or a software development agency? The answer really depends on the needs of your project. Here are five key areas to consider when making your choice.

Cost

Software development agencies must cover overhead costs like equipment, employee benefits, and admin team salaries. Freelancers, on the other hand, have less extensive costs and can afford to charge cheaper hourly rates. However, if you need to hire more than one freelancer (as is often the case with more complex projects), the expenses can add up. You should consider how many developers you require for the work at hand and weigh the potential cost against the other priorities of your project.

Skill Set

Freelancers tend to specialize in a specific area, developing great expertise in certain programming languages and frameworks. This is ideal when your project involves clear-cut tasks within a limited scope. However, when the work that needs to be done spans several fields (such as design, development, and QA testing), a single freelancer usually won't cut it, and you'll most likely need to hire several independent contractors. In these cases, it makes more sense to work with an agency, as their development teams tend to have a breadth of knowledge and competencies. An agency is a safe choice particularly in the area of QA because they likely have more equipment at their disposal; an individual freelancer may not have access to different types of phones, tablets, and computers in order to test the quality of your product across devices and operating systems.

Product Management

It's usually simple to manage an individual freelancer as an extension of your own team. But things get complicated when you need to hire multiple experts. You may find yourself spending a lot of time coordinating a group of people who are not used to working together. If you work with a software development agency, however, product management is often included in the contract. At sophilabs, for instance, we offer product management as a complementary service, regardless of how many developers a client hires. It's important to us that our clients receive the maximum return on their investment and that our teams consistently deliver value. In addition, choosing the agency route ensures that you're working with a team that is accustomed to collaborating with each other. Teamwork boosts the quality of product, as team members know each other's strengths and weaknesses and can help each other identify strong solutions and overcome challenges.

Timeline

Another important consideration is how long your project will take to complete if you choose to work with a freelancer or an agency. A freelancer is a one-person business, so if they need to take time off to handle health issues or a personal emergency, your project will not see any progress until they are able to work again. In contrast, an agency can quickly bring a new developer up to speed so they can step in. Furthermore, agencies tend to work more efficiently than a group of freelancers, since their teams have well-established processes in place that allow them to hit the ground running. If you're working under a deadline, then an agency may be a safer bet.

Product Requirements

As we mentioned earlier, if your project has a limited scope and its requirements are clearly defined, a talented freelancer is a great option. But when there are unknowns in the mix, you may end up paying for a freelancer to rework parts of your product as you learn more about what users need. In a shifting business landscape, it's likely that requirements will change. An agency is a smarter choice in this scenario, as they are more equipped to work as your thought partners and keep abreast of changes in the market. Their wide range of skills and experience enables them to adapt smoothly to new information.

Whether you should choose to work with a freelancer or a software development agency truly depends on what's most important to your business. We hope our advice proves useful as you evaluate your priorities and determine the best option for your project. If you'd like to find out how sophilabs can help you reach your software development goals, drop us a line!

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"Freelancer or Agency: Which Should You Hire?" by Adriana Campoy is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle.

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