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Your internal needs change over time, and you have to plot the best course forward to build or improve your software solutions. So you begin to think, Should I hire software developers? Would outsourcing be better?

First, think about three things:

  • Skill set: Between team member turnover and the sudden need for a role that wasn’t relevant before, scaling your team can fill those skill gaps and put the missing pieces in place.
  • Utilization: Your existing team is overworked, and you are encountering the dreaded b-word: burnout. Think about what will return stability. Scaling your team can provide relief and balance the workload.
  • Speed: How quickly do you need to be able to get your current project—or future projects—rolling? Strategically adding to your team can help in the long run.

Convinced you need a little extra help? In this post, we cover the ins and outs of bringing in outside support, from navigating the freelance talent pool to pursuing alternatives.

5 key roles in software development

First things first: software development requires coordinated efforts between multiple roles. Some folks drive creative efforts, whereas others guide strategy or quality. Each project has its own needs, but generally includes five roles: UX research, UI/UX design, development, project management, and quality assurance.

UX research

Every project begins with user experience (UX) research to set a foundation for success, make a quality product, and understand target users. It’s essential to align the product goals with what users want. Otherwise, your app will fall short. UX research happens at the beginning of the project because it’s much easier to pivot from your original plan early on. When you spend time defining goals and features and thinking about what users will do with the product, you uncover necessary changes much sooner.

UX researchers rely on interviewing and testing. In interviews, researchers speak with target customers and ask non-leading questions to uncover insights. On the flip side, user testing presents the app concept to target users to see what you might have missed. In app development, you can find up to 85 percent of potential usability issues with just five people.

UI/UX design

Someone has to provide creative inspiration for your software or mobile app. UI/UX designers turn your idea into something both appealing and easy to use. Throughout the process, they use wireframes to create the user interface (UI) according to established guidelines and best practices and define a UX that will make your product user-friendly.

UI/UX designers create the graphics for your product, but they also take it a step further. They build prototypes in software programs that mimic how your app will behave, allowing you to get a sneak peek and communicate important design decisions to the developers who will write the code.


Now we’re getting somewhere. Your development team is the heart of your project because developers turn all your grand plans and designs into reality. Developers turn language and graphics into code that devices understand. However, development is divided into specialties and languages. Your project might require an Android developer, backend developer, iOS developer, or others.

Project management

In any project, someone has to keep the ball rolling. Project management does just that, with individual managers divvying up tasks and responsibilities to members of the design and development teams. Project managers are like conductors of a symphony, planning how to execute your work of art and giving cues to each player. They help manage time for those involved in the project, assess challenges, and manage risks so that each project becomes the masterpiece it’s meant to be.

Quality assurance and engineering

Does your product live up to expectations? Quality assurance (QA) verifies that it does before it even goes out the door to users. QA engineers look over your software or app from top to bottom with a critical eye, checking for security and product quality.

Specifically, QA engineers test that the product works and flows correctly, noting any bugs or flaws for the development team to fix. They also ensure that the overall project team has accounted for your unique requirements.

Why piecemealing development isn’t ideal

Because every development project is unique, you need to prioritize hiring what you need most. Of course, that comes with trade-offs. If you piecemeal each role, your project could take longer and quality may suffer, all with a higher price tag. That said, there are two sides to the coin:

Pros and cons of freelance developers

The give and take of entrusting development projects to freelance talent falls into four categories: cost, scope, talent pool, and control. Ever hear the cliche about someone wanting something done “fast, cheap, and easy”? You might get two out of three!


Pro: Freelance talent might be affordable …
Con: … but it can come at the expense of vital skills gaps.


Pro: Freelancers may be adequate for small or niche projects …
Con: … but you don’t get the benefits of consulting, project management, or UX research.

Talent pool

Pro: In the gig economy, you can choose from worldwide talent
Con: … but communication can suffer across different time zones or cultures.


Pro: Freelancers may think on their toes and make quick decisions …
Con: … but rushed work may not always be supported with the right data, creating more work in the long run.

Negatives of multiple freelancers

It’s one thing to hire external software developers for your project, but managing multiple freelancers is infinitely more challenging. If we had to pick one word to describe it, we would have to go with “disconnected.” Here are some of the negatives:

  • Communication challenges: In-house team members and multiple outsiders are siloed, making it tougher to get in sync. Can you send an email, Slack message, or make a call to get on the same page?
  • Juggling other projects: When you work with multiple independent freelancers, you’re effectively not sure where you stand. For example, you could ask – do they have a long list of other priorities? Do they have the time to focus on your project, and will they place the same level of urgency on it as you would?
  • Don’t understand your business: As outsiders, freelance talent doesn’t always have the opportunity to intimately learn your business and its needs. Although many specialize in niche technologies or development areas, that’s not always the case, so it may take you longer to train them to suit your needs.

Trust OnSite placement

OnSite, Detroit Labs’ alternative IT staffing agency, can help you solve a major problem for technology-driven organizations: building teams. We help you fill key roles to complement your existing team or build your entire team from scratch.

We only source the best.

OnSite finds candidates that meet your specific needs. Using in-depth cultural, technical, and practical interviews, we hire software developers who will keep pace with your industry and team.

Some of our most trusted developers are members of Detroit Labs’ CoLabs tech community. CoLabs welcomes professionals of every development niche and skill level to network, learn, and grow through events, collaboration, coaching, and job opportunities.

We vet candidates and check technical skills.

OnSite goes beyond sifting through job histories. We use phone screens, technical assessments, candidate kits, and reviews to determine whether candidates suit your needs.

We take the hassle out of hiring.

OnSite does the legwork of hiring so you can focus on your business. Our placement process gives you expert development talent who can get to work right away, bringing knowledge, curiosity, and new perspectives to your team.

Hire software developers through OnSite

Creating a knockout app or software requires professional designers, researchers, project managers, and developers. But between a limitless talent pool and industry knowledge gaps, there are pros and cons to hiring freelance software developers. And it’s even more challenging to rely solely on a freelance team.

Whether you’re facing budgetary constraints or simply prefer the in-house vibe to a software development company, split the difference with OnSite from Detroit Labs. We will source and onboard the right talent to get your project off to the races. Get in touch today to discover the power of OnSite staffing.

Learn more about OnSite. Speak with a member of the Detroit Labs team about staffing your next project.