Freelancer vs Software Development Firm: Who should you hire?

For the sake of this article, let’s assume you have decided NOT to hire a full-time developer as an employee and need to outsource work on a custom software project.

Who should you hire?

Freelancer vs Software Development Firm

Before we assess each option, it is important to have answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the core problem being solved?
  2. What are the project requirements and who is responsible for them?
  3. What specifically will the outsourced developer(s) be tasked with?
  4. Can a single individual accomplish the outsourced tasks or are multiple people with varying skills sets required
  5. What level of project management is needed to complete the assigned project? Who is tasked with managing the project?
  6. What is the project timeline?
  7. What is the project budget?

Unless you have accurate answers to these questions, it ‘s hard to make a wise choice in deciding how to outsource your project.

Do Your Homework

Hiring the wrong freelancer or development firm can be disastrous. It is important that you have a thorough vetting process in place to assess competence, quality, and integrity.


There are times when it makes sense to outsource a project to a single individual who possesses the expertise and availability your team needs for a defined duration.

There are three main advantages to using freelancers in this situation.

Flexibility – Add freelancers to a project only when you need them.

Efficiency – In most cases, freelancers are not weighed down by office politics and drama. They just complete the tasks assigned to them.

Lower Cost – While an experienced freelancer may charge more per hour than an employee’s wages, taxes, and benefits, in most cases it is less expensive than hiring a full-time developer who is not fully utilized.

There is no shortage of experienced developers who can help you complete your project, but there are instances when you need more than a freelance developer.

Software Development Firm

A development firm will be more likely to handle complex or large scale project than a freelancer.

Working with the right software development firm will provide you with the following capabilities.

Knowledgebase – Most firms offer a variety of development services and employ a team of people with experience in multiple coding languages. Some firms also have particular expertise in an industry or application.

Project Management – Reputable firms will have existing project management systems to manage project workflows, vision transfer, testing procedures, and code quality.

1+1=3 – Writing quality code is hard. It is often necessary to work together and collaborate with other developers to solve complex problems

So, what’s the downside of working with a quality development firm?

Perceived cost. The following excerpt is from a recent blog post regarding our process for software cost estimation.

If you have a problem that costs you $500,000 a year and we could solve it once for $150,000, is that expensive?

$150,000 for a software project is a lot of money considering only the dollars and cents; however, the net value is enormous and grows over time.

When considering a custom software development project, it is essential to look at the long-term value of the asset versus the hard monetary costs.

The Verdict

Freelancers and development firms can be great assets to your organization when leveraged correctly. Which one to use depends entirely on the situation.

Contact our team if you have a software project that needs to be outsourced, but you are unsure whether you should work with a freelancer or a development firm.

Written by Biz Dev
Posted on: May 3, 2017 | Last Update: March 28, 2019