PJ Bishop

By PJ Bishop, Vice-President: Services for Sage Africa and Middle East

Today, powerful and mature packaged and cloud software solutions address nearly every conceivable business need, from general business functions like accounting and payroll to vertical functionality for industries such as retail, manufacturing, and professional services.

Yet many businesses eventually get to a point where they need to custom-develop a software app or feature.

For some, it might be that they need to write a custom integration between their new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and the legacy system they use to run their warehouse. Others might want to develop a mobile app for their customers or some custom functionality for their e-commerce website. The best way to achieve this goal is to partner with an expert software development firm.  

Here are six reasons why outsourcing software development makes sense if it isn’t your core business:

Accelerate time to market

Speed to market is key for an entrepreneurial business. Collaborating with a specialist software provider can accelerate the time it takes to get a product or feature up and running, enabling the business to achieve a return on investment faster. Partnering with a software firm eliminates the time it would take to hire and train people to work on the project. Good software firms usually have sound frameworks and methodologies to help keep projects on track for their deadline.

Access specialised skills

According to the 2021 ICT Skills Survey, there are nearly 10 000 hard-to-fill positions in the ICT sector, a quarter of them in software development. Building and maintaining an internal software team is challenging, given the level of competition for skilled, certified programmers and developers. By partnering with an external company, a business frees itself from the challenge of acquiring and retaining IT skills.

Reduce risks

When working with an external software development firm, a company can benefit from the partner’s proven processes and governance structures. A good software development firm will have the experience and skillset to deliver top quality work within a deadline. It will also point out where the risks and pitfalls lie, collaborating with the customer to mitigate risks and ensure accountability.

Achieve cost savings

Building a software development team has high overheads. A company needs to pay market-related salaries for people in high demand, and it also needs to ensure they stay up to date with the latest technologies. There are also costs like computer hardware and software to consider. By working with an external provider, a company can reduce software development costs.

Get more flexibility

The world is changing at a blistering pace. The technologies that are hot today may not be relevant tomorrow. Working with an external software partner gives a business the flexibility to access the skills it needs today without worrying whether they will still be applicable tomorrow. In addition, the company can tap into software skills when they’re needed, rather than hiring a team that might be idle for weeks or months of the year.

Choose the right partner

Today, companies have a wider selection than ever of external software developers to choose from, from large, local IT companies and offshore firms in countries like India to independent freelancers and contractors.

When selecting the right provider, a business owner or leader should check their references carefully and negotiate a contract that safeguards both parties. A good organisational culture fit is nearly as important as technical skill in setting up a partnership that unlocks long-term value.

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