Over the last few years, there has been one longstanding debate that every company will need to face as new projects and products are being launched: Should we hire a professional development agency or a freelancer?
When it comes down to it, working with freelancers and development agencies both have their merits and the decision will ultimately come down to your objectives and the kind of services you need to accomplish them. Regardless, the debate is fairly complex and it can be a difficult decision to make. In order to point you in the right direction, we have outlined some of the pros and cons of hiring freelancers and professional development agencies.
First, before deciding anything, you need to ask yourself a few questions about the project at hand.
- What is the vision of my finished product?
- How complex is my project?
- What is my budget?
- Do I have an internal project manager to oversee the process?
With this information in hand, we can start looking at the pros and cons of each option. For the sake of this article, we are assuming both options (the freelancer and the professional agency) are highly-reputable and outstanding in their respective work.
The Benefits of Hiring a Freelancer:
Specialized: Oftentimes the reason a professional chooses to become a freelancer is because they are especially talented at a specific niche skill-set. For example, if your web or mobile project needs an interactive video or illustration, you can likely find an artisan freelancer who is up to the task.
Cost: While this is subjective, in general, freelancers have much less overhead than a professional agency and they are often the least expensive option. Keep in mind however, that you get what you pay for and outsourcing to more than one freelancer can quickly run up a large tab.
Flexibility: Another subjective “pro”, since we are dealing with highly qualified professionals here, freelancers are able to build their schedule around your needs and priorities, including traveling to your office and operating outside of normal work hours.
The Drawbacks of Hiring a Freelancer:
Limitations: Typically, you hire a freelancer with a specific task in mind, however in most cases, unexpected changes or modifications to your project will arise and this is where working with a freelancer puts you at a disadvantage. While some menial tasks can be handled by the freelancer, full-scale solutions that are given to a multi-disciplinary team working alongside each other will produce much better results.
Reliability: No matter how talented, professional and committed a freelancer is, unexpected disruptions such as illness, time zone differences or family emergencies can leave your projected stranded in neutral. Working with a professional agency eliminates this risk as the team can compensate for the loss of one of their personnel and still meet your deadlines.
They’re strangers: In a perfect world, the freelancer you hire will be intimately familiar with your company, your market and your customers, however in reality the freelancer you hire will likely be unfamiliar with all three. Building a successful working relationship with a freelancer can be extremely challenging, especially if they’re not working in-house.
The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Agency
There’s No “I” in Team: The biggest advantage of hiring a professional company is the access to an entire multi-faceted team able to accommodate all of your design, development and marketing needs. Furthermore, since every aspect of the project is delivered by one team, the final product is more consistent and polished than if you were to hire several freelancers that weren’t working together.
Speed, Experience and Efficiency: Along these same lines, professional agencies have cumulated invaluable experience working together to deliver comprehensive, high-quality projects for their clients. They have a workflow, can leverage each other’s strengths and can accurately predict the necessary resources and time that will be required to accomplish your goals. When you’re working on a strict deadline, a professional agency will be much faster at meeting your needs.
Service & Support: Depending on your project’s size and scope, most agencies offer ongoing support such as SEO, marketing, and analyzing user feedback for future versions. This is especially important as today’s digital and mobile projects become increasingly complex and overlap considerably with other business units.
The Drawbacks of Hiring a Professional Agency
Cost: For any particular service, it is generally more expensive to work with a design and development agency than to hire a freelancer. However, as agencies can package multiple services together and operate effectively as a team in order to complete the deliverable in the shortest possible amount of time, it can be argued that they actually offer the highest value for your budget.
Location: Professional agencies usually have their own offices and that can sometimes be far from a client’s site which means more planning is necessary before meetings. However, with tools like Skype, Google Hangout, GoToMeeting and others, most meetings and any emergencies can be handled remotely.
Ultimately, there is no absolute correct answer for choosing between a professional development agency or a freelancer. In general, freelancers tend to perform best when hired for a specialized task, while a professional development agency is best at delivering complete digital solutions, especially when the project is not yet completely defined.
Remember, everything depends on your specific project and your specific needs. Take a deep look into your objectives, timeline, internal skill-sets, and budget, and use them as a framework to find the best possible partner for your project.
At Mobile Jazz we like to say that we’re not an agency. We align ourselves with our clients’ operations and core philosophy in order to provide customized solutions with the same flexibility of a freelancer. Our clients find that this approach is the perfect marriage between the experience of professional agency and the agility of a freelance solution. Learn more about our unique approach and philosophy.
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