External Development Teams Can Strengthen Your Internal Development
External Teams Can Be an Extension, Not a Replacement
If you are calling in an external development partner, you have already decided not to hire new, internal people. You recognize that given the nature of your needs, building your own team may be more trouble than it’s worth – especially if your current team is strong enough to handle your typical workflow but just need a little more bandwidth or specific expertise right now.
That’s the value of bringing in an external development partner: they can act as an extension of your current team, saving you the hassle of internal hiring and team-building. Think of this extension like an Irritant Removal System (see our blog on being an “IRS”…), called upon when the scope of a project is temporarily too much for your current team to handle – like when critical customer requests suddenly threaten your product roadmap, or when you want to upgrade technology but don’t have the expertise on your team to initiate that transition. Hiring new developers to take on a flux of work would not be valuable, and taking the time to train your current employees to develop with tech stacks they’re unfamiliar with would only slow things down more. But an external development partner can easily step in and pick up the slack, while providing expertise you may not have in house.
Since you’re bringing them in to support relatively temporary changes in workflow, it’s important to emphasize that engaging with an external development partner does not mean you lack faith in your internal dev team. Set the expectation that the external team is not there to compete with or replace them, they’re working together. An attitude of collaboration over competition should be adopted by all parties to get the most out of teams.
Seamless Collaboration and Partnership
A truly effective external development team seamlessly integrates into your business, not just as an add-on but as integral contributors. At Calavista, for example, collaboration goes beyond traditional boundaries – from Solutions Directors to Senior Architects to even company executives, our professionals don’t just fill roles, they become essential members of your team.
Support does not have to stop at development. Strong teams like Calavista can offer management expertise, technical guidance, and invaluable business insights. In the past, we’ve effortlessly stepped into leadership roles like VP of Development, CTO, and Product Owner, so you know that when working with Calavista, you’re not just hiring a team with one or two specific skills – you’re gaining a versatile partner committed to your success.
Ultimately, your project is your own, and while an external development group can provide manpower, insight, and advice, they should not get in the way of your own needs. A good external development partner will not push their own technical preferences on you. They may suggest what they think would be best, but if it’s a framework or approach your internal team would not be comfortable with, they should be able to support that choice and adopt your vision without missing a beat. External teams are there for support – they don’t have to take over the entire project… unless you want them to.
Scalability: Size and Skill
A previous blog of ours also talked about how external teams can bring scalability to your projects. You have your core group of developers but may partner with an external team to help with any hiccups. It is much easier to let an external development group add and remove staff to fit the needs of the project rather than hiring and maybe firing people internally. At Calavista, we like to say we can scale “up, down, and sideways.” We just described scaling up and down, adding or removing staff as needed, but you can also scale “sideways” by swapping out individuals with different skills throughout the project.
Needs change throughout a project. Upfront you may need a lot of help requirements gathering, but once that phase is over, you don’t need to hold on to those specific experts but can maintain the size of your team by switching them out for more developers. So even though headcount may remain the same, the skill sets may evolve over time. This approach provides flexibility in how many people are on the project, while giving you the ability to choose what types of skills you need.
When partnering with an external dev group like Calavista, you’ll have access to a deep bench of experts. Rather than searching and bringing one in on your own, you can use theirs for as long as you need. Then, once they’re done, swap them out for a different role.
Internal and External Development Are Better Together
Bringing in an external development partner should not be a last resort or an indication that your own team is failing. Instead, it can be a sign that you are ready to take your development to the next level, increasing your product health as well as the mental health of your own team. By bringing in an external partner, internal development staff should feel confident that they will have support in their endeavors and can expect a streamlined workflow, a sounding board for ideas, and more manpower, all while feeling secure in their own roles.
Best Practices All Around
When groups partner together, both internal and external teams learn from each other. Ultimately, your internal team understands and knows your product best. Your people can teach the external team about your business and industry specifics, the needs of your organization, and the ins-and-outs of your existing software.
In that way, each new project an external team takes on brings them a new challenge, with the opportunity to gain experience in a different industry and maybe even learn a new technology. But because of this, external teams are regularly exposed to new groups, projects, and environments – and they pick up new knowledge, skills, and insights with each one.
With so much experience on different projects, external teams often can have a better sense of “best practices” in the industry than a static team. While your team may have spent years learning everything about your domain and your own delivery practices, an external team will bring new insights from other industries, current technologies and delivery methodologies that other teams are using, and a fresh set of eyes – and brains – to your project.
At Calavista, our objectives often include building out a reference example of best practices that we use in our development process. We help our development partners not just complete their projects but also easily adopt best practices in the industry. References of things like DevSecOps pipelines, test automation, test-driven-development, etc. shared with our customers help streamline the development process while we work together and even after we leave.
Together, internal development teams can provide expertise on a project and its needs, the needs of the company, and the technology they use. Meanwhile, external teams can not only provide tactical support, but can help enhance the development process, advise on technology choices, and step into management or business support as necessary. Ultimately, this can lead to highly successful software development projects and development partnerships.
If you are interested in seeing how an external software development group can enhance your internal development process, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.