Just imagine that you have a software project to be done for your company. The project requires some high-level software development skills. What is your next step? Should you look for a freelance software developer or should you hire a virtual employee? The decision that you make now will impact the future of your company and of your project in particular.
There are a plethora of websites offering the services of freelance software developers, suitable for one-time projects as well as longer duration projects. When you post a job on such a website, you will get proposals from a dozen or so freelancers who are working independently, albeit for multiple clients.
The freelancer would most likely have the requisite skills and experience to fulfill your project/s. However, you need to keep in mind that since the person is working on several projects, you might not be able to get a dedicated time slot for your work.
Low Cost. Really?
The reason why most companies opt for freelance software developers is because they are looking to get the work done at a low cost. You can save upto 30% cost as compared to hiring full-time employees, because freelancers work out of their own small offices or homes and thus have no overhead costs to take care of.
Besides, they can work on hourly rates and so the productivity is better than a full-time employee. On the flip side, your project might take much longer than expected because freelance software developers wouldn’t usually commit on sharp timelines. So the low cost reasoning may or may not work for you.
Virtual employees, on the other hand, are dedicated resources who are employed and work full time for your company. They are hired exclusively as full-time software developers and have the required skills to work on your project. By hiring them, you can save upto 70% on your staff remuneration because they are based offshore in India. They work in fully-equipped offices that have good IT infrastructure as well as project managers who oversee their work to ensure that the development timelines are met.
The virtual employees have better support than freelance software developers, because they work as a team and have senior resources around to help them with their individual projects. Besides, the virtual employee provider ensures that if an employee goes on leave there is a backup resource to continue working on your project.
Flexibility of Work Timings. At What Cost?
Freelance software developers usually work at their own schedule and are free to choose their own timings. They may not be restricted to working for 8 hours a day and therefore might be able to finish your project faster. Such flexibility can enable them to adapt quickly to changing requirements from your side. However, such flexibility can work on the other side also.
If the freelance software developer is outside your time zone and is unwilling to work in your time zone, then you might need to allocate your own time or resource to coordinate with this freelancer. That may entail additional staff costs and/or office expenses on your company. So look carefully before you take up flexibility as your lynchpin.
Virtual Employees, on the other hand, are specially recruited for your project and are able to work on your time schedule. Working out of fully-equipped offices, they have access to facilities such as pick-up and drop-off cabs, round-the-clock security, and office staff to help them work in any time zone across the world.
While a freelance software developer might only work in one time zone, the virtual employees can work entirely at your convenience. This true flexibility will help you complete your project within schedule and within your expected budget, without throwing up some unexpected challenges in managing timelines.
A freelancer might offer the promise of lower cost and flexibility but does that really translate into a practical choice for you? Or do you prefer to hire a virtual employee that works dedicatedly for you? It is up to you to decide if you prefer the services of a freelance software developer or that of a virtual employee to complete your company’s software projects.