Developing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is an essential step for a startup as it helps test the product concept with potential users and customers, allows for early customer feedback, and provides a competitive advantage. Recruiting a team of experienced and talented software developers with the right set of skills is a challenge. An established external software development team can be a low–risk way to quickly deliver a proof of concept or MVP that meets the required quality standards. It also allows startups to access the expertise of a larger pool of professionals and tailor the team size and skillset to the evolving needs of their project, while managing their costs. An external team can be therefore a better option for developing an MVP for a startup than forming an in-house team.
Testing the Product Concept: The Benefits of Developing an MVP
Developing an MVP is important in a software startup for several reasons. It helps to test the product concept with potential users and customers early on, thereby reducing the risk of investing large amounts of money in a product that may not be successful. It also allows for early customer feedback that can be used to refine and improve the product. Lastly, it can provide a competitive advantage, as the product can be released to the market quicker than competitors who take a more traditional approach to product development.
To develop this MVP it is, however, essential to have a good software development team. They must have the necessary skills to understand the requirements and develop a product that meets the business objectives and customer needs. They must function well as a team. They must communicate well, collaborate, be focused on quality, hold themselves accountable, be flexible, and respect each other.
External versus In-House Teams: What is the Best Option for Startups?
For startups, choosing between subcontracting and building an in-house software development team for their MVP can be a tough decision and one that can make the difference between the success and failure of the project.
While building an MVP in-house can be an option (specially when you want to have more control of the process), building an effective in-house development team can be as much of a challenge. On the other hand, subcontracting to an external software development team can offer numerous benefits.
Subcontracting an MVP can be a cost-effective option, as building an in-house software development team requires investment in hiring, training, and equipment and the startup may end up with an overscaled team once the initial heavy-lifting of the development process is completed. By subcontracting, startups pay only for the work that is done, saving significant costs.
Another advantage of subcontracting an MVP is that it can save time. Hiring and training an in-house software development team can be time-consuming, and in the current competitive market, it can prove difficult and expensive to find the right talent. With external teams, startups can call on a broader pool of existing skill sets that is already in place. As the external resources already function as a team (they have worked together in many projects), they often have experience in rapid development and can deliver a functional MVP in a shorter timeframe.
Subcontracting software development also provides access to specialized skills and expertise which reduces execution risk. External teams often have a wider range of skills and experience than an in-house team, allowing them to bring specialized expertise to the project and a proven track record of having developed many other projects.
Startups can also benefit from the flexibility that subcontracting provides. Scaling up or down as needed is much easier when subcontracting, as startups can avoid staffing and training issues. This is especially advantageous for startups that are working with limited resources and need to stay lean.
Lastly, subcontracting an MVP allows startups to focus on their core business competencies. By subcontracting software development, startups can focus on business development or marketing, areas that may be key, specially in the startups first development stages.
For startups who claim that using an external software development team involves the loss of control over the software development process, a good solution could be to hire a very small in-house team who oversees the project and works as a nexus between the startup’s business lines and the external software specialised team.
Once the company has delivered the MVP and stakeholders have confirmed their ongoing support, the small in-house team can help with the gradual transition from external resources to a fully staffed in-house software development team. This transition, however, does not need to happen overnight and many startups function for some time with a hybrid approach until the product offering is fully tried and tested and the startup’s business has got some traction.
So to conclude, subcontracting an MVP to an external software development team can offer startups many benefits, including cost-effectiveness, time-saving, access to specialized skills, flexibility, and the ability to focus on core competencies. By subcontracting software development, startups can create an MVP that showcases their product or service, while minimizing costs, risks and maximizing efficiency. For those startups who want to have more control over their software development process, hiring a very small in-house team can help with project supervision and future transition to in-house resources.