Freelancers vs team extension – why freelancers always lose

IF you’re an SMB that needs to step up technically, either by building an app, creating a website or even just updating your online presence, this article might save you from freelancer frustration.

As an SMB you’re always at a disadvantage when it comes to tech. You can’t afford to have the expertise you need in house, and hiring freelancers is an exercise in frustration. How are you to stand out in your market, or even compete in it, when tech is now a major factor in success?

We’re going to fill you in on the advantages of a team extension versus hiring freelancers. And you’re going to be glad you’ve learned about it.

What is a team extension?

A team extension is basically remote workers as a service. A team extension can be a single software developer working a few hours a week to a full stack dev team numbering in the dozens.

What differentiates a team extension from outsourcing is that the members of your team extension report directly to you and they are integrated with your inhouse team, tools and systems. They attend meetings (virtually), they work directly on your projects, and, if they are full time, they work only on your project.

One of the biggest benefits of the team extension is that you have the full support of your team extension service provider. They want you to succeed with their team members as much as you do.

How is hiring for a team extension different from hiring freelancers?

Hiring freelancers requires you to become an expert in IT recruitment. Choosing the wrong freelance software developer can sabotage your plans.

When hiring for a team extension you are hiring out of a proven talent pool with a track record of helping businesses like yours build apps and websites and keep their tech infrastructure running.

With hundreds of completed projects under their belts, your service provider knows the skill set you need and can help you estimate the hours or headcount as well. They are also able to put forward proven candidates for you to interview and pick from.

And unlike with a freelancer, if someone doesn’t work out you don’t lose time or code. You can work with your service provider to rapidly replace them and keep moving forward.

A team extension builds your product, a freelancer sells you code

This is a subtle but important difference. A team extension really is an extension of your team. They’re like employees working out of a different office. They’re output is your output. At all times you have complete visibility into their progress and the work they’ve completed.

Freelance software developers, for good reasons, tend to deny access to any code they’ve written for you until they have been paid in full. There might be online demos they’ve built for you to comment on, but the code remains untouchable.

This gives your project a “bus factor” of 1. Which is how many people need to be hit by a bus to derail your project. Or how many people need to get sick or get sick of the project, to derail it.

With a team extension you have an entire organisation supporting you and your team members. You don’t need to worry about “bus factor”.

Your team extension, and you, get cost and management support

Another major benefit of a team extension is that you get the increase in headcount and productivity without the increase in office space, resources and HR burden.

Your team extension members work out of the service provider’s offices. They supply the workspace and the equipment. They also provide all of the HR and employee support services required. This includes all kinds of work management, training and personal care.

The situation for you is not unlike becoming a team leader where upper management is devoted to helping you get the results you need. You have a second level of oversight to help you successfully negotiate all the challenges of the increased headcount.

What could you build with your dream team?

If you’ve been unable to move forward on the app or website that your business needs because of the challenges in hiring developers, we hope this article has opened some doors for you.

You can build the app or website you need. You can do it while minimising the risks by adopting the team extension model.

If you want to discuss extending your team with some of our talented developers don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

Building your app with an extended team

 

Building your app with an extended team

Getting Started

  1. Briefing with SoftwareSeni about the product you want to build

    We work with you to sketch out the development strategy for your app, web app or website.

  2. Decide on a tech stack based on your functional requirement

    A grid of the logos of tools used by SoftwareSeni including ReactJS, Node, FireBase, Shopify, Angular, Vite, NextJS, WordPress, MailChimp, WooCommerce and more.

  3. Start reviewing developers from our talent pool

    You start with a shortlist of talent that you can be sure have the skills and experience you need. You meet one-on-one for a video interview so you can get to know the candidates.

  4. Complete scoping and specification

    Wireframes and business rules are finalised. Feedback during the process ensures balance between budget, features and viability. Full project estimates are in place. You know exactly what needs to be built.

  5. Engage and onboard your chosen developers

 

Development begins

Weekly sessions with your SoftwareSeni product consultant and project manager keep the project advancing smoothly.

  1. Review product prototypes and give feedback

  2. Stay in the loop

    You get daily updates as well as weekly and monthly reconciliation reports so you always know how the project is tracking financially and towards your deadline.

  3. Developers integrate your product with the services your business relies on

    This includes payments, CRM, ERP, customer support, reporting, shipping, and more.

  4. Infrastructure is configured ahead of launch

    Web servers, database servers, load balancers, CDNs – all the  technical services you need are set up, tested, and placed under monitoring.

  5. Final rounds of QA are completed on staging servers

  6. Soft launch on production servers with a small cohort of beta users

    Another round of full QA is conducted to ensure there are no incompatibility issues in the live environment.

Launch!

The first version of your product goes live. Your marketing campaign goes into action. You start signing up users.

Post-launch

The first version of your product goes live. Your marketing campaign goes into action. You start signing up users.

What’s next?

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How to recruit software developers in days instead of months

It’s never been harder to find, filter, and hire experienced developers. Demand is through the roof for these roles, making recruitment long and arduous while all you want to do is get your app to market and keep revenue coming in. There is a shortcut that will get you the dev talent you need, but you will have to think outside the box you’re in.

There really is a developer shortage

And it’s getting worse. In the US, software engineering positions are expected to increase 22% by 2030. That means about 190,000 new jobs opening per year. But there are only  ~53,000 computer science graduates per year.

The same thing is happening in Australia. There will be 100,000 unfilled software related positions by 2024. But Australia is graduating only about 8,500 (domestic) computer science students per year.

These shortfalls are in turn leading to higher salaries. The post-COVID expansion of remote work means you can be competing against deep-pocketed software giants like Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet for developers in your own local market.

No wonder it can take months to recruit a software developer.

Use a team extension to hire developers fast and affordably

Team extension, also called a dedicated team, extended team or extended development team, is basically remote workers taken to the next level – featuring dedicated management, lower risk, and reduced costs.

In a team extension you work with a team extension vendor like SoftwareSeni to access their pool of software engineering talent. 

In SoftwareSeni’s case, we use a mixed onshore/near-shore model. You work directly with a project consultant based in Sydney, Australia. The SoftwareSeni talent pool is based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s tech hub. This provides a large time zone overlap for Australian businesses that makes developer integration relatively painless. 

To increase your team headcount you discuss with us your project and the skills and experience you’re looking for. SoftwareSeni then provides a shortlist of candidates for you to interview and select from. What can take 2 or 3 months (including negotiating salaries and paying $$$ to recruiters) is completed in as little as seven to fourteen days, with you knowing at the outset what your costs will be.

How is a team extension different from outsourcing?

In this era of Work From Home, a team extension is no different to normal team members. The developers show up. You manage them and assign them work. They do the work. They attend meetings virtually. Just like the rest of your team. 

However, unlike other remote team members, they work out of the vendor’s premises. SoftwareSeni provides a second level of supervision that your other remote team members won’t have. This helps to ensure delivery of the quality of service we provide all our partners. We also provide your team extension developers with technical and human resource support functions you don’t need to fund or deal with. 

Unlike a typical outsourcing arrangement, you are in complete control and have complete overview into the work your team extension developers are doing for you. And you can always talk to your SoftwareSeni project consultant if you’re not sure or have any questions or need insights.

How to start the rapid hiring process for your next developer

Start the process to hire your next developer in days by speaking to us. At SoftwareSeni we can help you to quickly finalise experience and skill set requirements based on your product goals so you can keep moving forward. At every step of the hiring process you’ll be in complete control of decisions and costs and be able to scale your team extension options up and down to match your budget.

Contact us to hire your newest developer, start building your team and keep your business moving forward.

How to get your app to market faster

 

The best time to get your app to market is yesterday. Great advice. Not very actionable. More actionable: get your app into the market as fast as you can. If you know you’re already working at your limits, we’ll show you how to get your app to market faster with one phone call. It’s not a secret – a big part of it is an extended development team.

Prioritise the right features of your app to launch sooner

The first step to getting your app to market faster is focusing on the Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The MVP has the smallest set of features that will deliver value to your customers and start generating revenue for your business. 

This means at launch maybe they won’t be able to set a profile picture in the MVP, but they can login, view items and order. That’s what they really want to do with your app. And that’s what you need them to be able to do.

After launch you continue to iterate on your MVP, adding new features and improving existing functionality based on user feedback. Done right, this leads to increasing revenue and uptake of your app, making its ongoing development self-supporting.

Use an extended development team to get your app to market faster

There is a piece of folk wisdom in software engineering that says throwing more programmers at a problem will only make things take longer. This originates in Fred Brooks’ book The Mythical Man Month. Don’t worry about it. It’s true(ish) under certain circumstances. But developing a new app is not one of them. 

As an app can be divided into a front end (the user interface) and a back end (that manages databases, authentication, integration with other services, etc), as well as processes like QA, devOps and provisioning infrastructure, there are multiple focus points where specific expertise, or simply more devs, can move your app forward.

It takes deep pockets and months of interviews to build a team that can hit all these areas at the same time. This is out of reach for most SMBs unless they make use of an extended development team.

The lack of in-house talent results in a long, slow path to launch, often delayed due to missing expertise. Most programmers can learn most programming related skills – languages, frameworks, algorithms, tools – but it takes time and it takes even longer to become an expert. 

So, yes, your React programmer could optimise your database queries, but it would be faster and less error prone to hire a developer who already knows exactly what to do.

This is where the extended team comes in. Also known as a team extension, dedicated team or staff augmentation. An extended development team is a lot like remote workers but with better management, lower risk, and reduced costs.

One of the biggest benefits of an extended team is how quickly they can be put in place and start being productive. If you’re trying to get your app to market fast, this can save you months. This quick set up is made possible by the vendor you will work with.

How do you hire an extended development team?

Hiring an extended team requires a vendor like SoftwareSeni. In SoftwareSeni’s case, we use a hybrid onshore/near-shore model: your consultant is based in Australia, and our talent pool is located in Indonesia’s tech hub, Yogyakarta.

To hire your team you supply us with details on the skills and headcount that you need and SoftwareSeni provides candidates for you to interview. What can take two or three months (including negotiating salaries and paying fees to recruiters) is completed within a couple of weeks. And before you begin interviewing you already know what your costs will be.

How is an extended development team different from a remote team or outsourcing?

In this post-Covid era of Work From Home, an extended team is no different to a remote team. They show up (online). You manage them. They do the assigned work. They attend virtual stand-ups and meetings. Just like the rest of your team. 

However, unlike normal remote employees, they work out of the vendor’s premises. This provides a secondary level of management at no extra cost to you. The vendor wants the developers in your extended team to deliver exactly what you need. They also provide your extended team members with technical and human resource support functions you don’t need to fund or deal with. 

Unlike a typical outsourcing arrangement, you are in complete control and have complete insight into the work your extended development team members are doing for you. 

Move faster and do more with an extended team

An extended team lets you increase your headcount, and development pace, without increasing your budget. The extended team also provides you with a level of flexibility a normal team cannot. 

You can drop team members when their skills are no longer needed. You can add staff to areas that need more attention. All while having complete control over your budget. 

Reduce your time-to-market with a phone call

The first step in getting your app into the market faster is to speak to your vendor. At SoftwareSeni we can help you to quickly finalise team composition and skill sets based on your product goals so you can start building faster. At every step you’ll be in complete control of costs and be able to scale your team up and down to match your budget.

Contact SoftwareSeni to start building your extended team and getting your app to market sooner.

How to build the dev team you need with the budget you have

Get ready to master the one simple trick™ that will help you build the roster of tech talent your business needs – the extended development team.

There aren’t enough developers to go around. The situation is going to get worse as software engineering positions are expected to increase 22% by 2030. Here’s what the math looks like around that:

Current number of dev jobs in the US: 1,847,900

New jobs per year: ~189,000

Computer science graduates per year: ~53,000

Shortfall: 136,000 per year

Those are US numbers. In Australia, the situation isn’t much better. Research from 2021 places the number of developers and related roles at 630,000 with estimates that there will be 100,000 unfilled positions by 2024. At the same time, Australia is producing only about 8,500 (domestic) computer science graduates per year.

The shortfall in available talent is driving up salaries. Salary levels are being further distorted by the willingness of large companies like Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon (MAMAA) to pay high salaries along with stock options to fill their open roles and retain talent. The post-COVID embrace of remote work means these salaries are affecting markets even outside of the US. 

If your business needs an app to compete, or your business is an app, this is the market you are fighting in to land the talent you need to survive. The competition for developers means it can take 2 to 3 months to fill a role with the right person. If you can afford them.

What is an extended development team? 

An extended development team, the “one simple trick”, also goes by the name of a team extension, dedicated team or staff augmentation. It’s remote workers with better management, lower risk, and lower costs.

The biggest benefit of an extended team is how quickly they can be put in place and start being productive. This is made possible by the vendor you will work with.

How do you build an extended development team?

Building your extended team will require a vendor like SoftwareSeni. In SoftwareSeni’s case, we use a hybrid onshore/near-shore model: your project consultant is based in Australia, and our talent pool is based in Indonesia’s tech hub, Yogyakarta.

To build your team you simply supply us with details on the composition of the team that you need and SoftwareSeni provides candidates for you to interview and select from. What can take 2 or 3 months (including negotiating salaries and paying $$$ to recruiters) is completed within a week or two, with you knowing at the outset what your costs will be.

How is an extended development team different from a normal team or outsourcing?

In this era of Work From Home, an extended team is no different to a normal team. They show up. You manage them. They do the work. They attend meetings. Just like the rest of your employees. 

However, unlike normal remote employees, they work out of the vendor’s premises. This provides a second level of supervision. The vendor wants them to deliver the quality of service they agreed upon with you. They also provide your extended team members with technical and human resource support functions you don’t need to fund or deal with. 

Unlike a typical outsourcing arrangement, you are in complete control and have complete insight into the work they’re doing for you. 

Where to start when building an extended team?

The first step in building your extended team is to speak to your vendor. At SoftwareSeni we can help you to quickly finalise team composition and skill sets based on your product goals so you can start building. At every step you’ll be in complete control of costs and be able to scale your team up and down to match your budget.

Contact us to start building your extended team and moving your business forward.

Team extension, extended team & out-sourcing FAQ

Covered in this FAQ:

 

What is the difference between an extended team, a dedicated team, a team extension and staff augmentation?

These 4 terms all refer to using a service provider to source and contract remote workers on a temporary (though possibly long term) basis.

There is one stand-out – staff augmentation can be used in a more general sense. You can use staff augmentation to refer to placing people in multiple roles throughout a business. But extended team, dedicated team, and team extension refer specifically to adding people to a particular team or even a particular team project.

What is the difference between off-shoring, near-shoring, out-sourcing and an extended team/dedicated team/team extension?

Off-shoring is a general term that refers to using workers of a service provider in another country to fill roles or perform role-related tasks, within your business.

Near-shoring is similar to off-shoring but it implies that the workers are located in a nearby country or time zone to reduce the management and collaboration difficulties that working across widely different time zones can create.

Out-sourcing is when a project or service that would traditionally be executed in-house is handled completely by an external service provider. The service provider is normally located off-shore in an attempt to reduce costs.

Extended team, dedicated team or team extension is when a project team is expanded by the hiring of remote team members through a team extension provider. The extended team members working remotely report to the same management as the in-house team, they work side-by-side with the in-house team on any projects, and participate in all meetings, but all their necessary resources – computers, office space, HR, etc – are supplied by the team extension provider.

What is the team extension model?

Under the team extension model you are responsible for managing your own project even though the work is being done by external contractors. Under an out-sourcing model the project management would also be handled externally.

The benefits of the team extension model are that you have complete control over the project and complete visibility into how it is progressing. You can spot, diagnose and fix any problems as soon as they occur.

The drawback of the team extension model is that you need a competent project manager inhouse in order to see the project to successful completion.

What is the extended team model?

The extended team model, or the extended development team model, is just the team extension model by another name. You will see both used online. Which one an author favours depends mostly on which region they’re in.

What is the dedicated team model?

The dedicated team model is yet another term for the team extension model. It is used to make explicit that the team members you contract through your service provider are focused purely on your project. While this is the default whether you call it an extended team model or team extension model, it does serve to differentiate it from out-sourcing, where you have no control over team continuity.

What is a core team?

The core team is made up of inhouse employees who established the project and were solely responsible for moving the project forward before a team extension is added to the effort.

The core team holds the business and domain expertise that the project relies on. They work with the team extension members under a project or product manager to complete the project and serve as a source of guidance and deep knowledge for the extended team.

Why do businesses use team extensions?

A team extension creates three main advantages for a business. These are particularly beneficial when the business is following the extended development team model for software based products.

The three main advantages of a team extension are:

  1. Rapid hiring – team extension staff are pre-vetted by the service provider. Tell them what skills you need and you can be interviewing applicants for team fit on the same day.
  2. Access to expertise – depending on your local labour market, access to certain technical skills might be difficult or very expensive. A team extension provider enables you to hire outside of your local labour market, opening you up to a larger talent pool.
  3. Predictable and manageable costs – by extending your development team using the team extension model, your cost for the extended team members is fixed once negotiated with the service provider. Furthermore, the service provider is responsible for supplying office space and equipment for the extended team members as well as HR and other employee support services, limiting your costs to the agreed hours the team members work.

Who manages the extended team?

Unlike in out-sourcing, the management of the remote members of an extended team is handled by the business contracting them. This requires you to have an inhouse project manager experienced in dealing with remote team members.

Post-Covid this is now the status quo. But if a business has pursued a back-to-the-office strategy for their developers, care needs to be taken that the remote members of the extended team are fully integrated into the day-to-day operations and culture of the business and especially for the project they are working on.

What happens if an extended team member doesn’t perform?

In the unlikely event that a business believes an extended team member isn’t performing well, this challenge is resolved in a similar manner to how it would be resolved for an inhouse employee.

The situation is better than that with a standard remote employee, because the extended team member is also under local management and monitoring by the service provider.

If the problems turn out to be unresolvable, it is quick and easy to select, vet, and contract a new extended team member from the service provider’s talent pool, with extra assistance from the service provider for the handover.

What kind of work can an extended team do?

An extended team can be contracted to work directly on a project. This can be in order to access expertise to develop certain features, or to shorten timelines for project completion.

Outside of software development on a business’s product, an extended team can be contracted to provide support services, such as devops for an existing team or project, and to keep important and complex applications online and available to customers.

Moving beyond software, an extended team can provide design and UX expertise early in a project, as well as ongoing customer service support and technical support once a project is online.

What are the biggest challenges in using a team extension?

The big challenges in a team extension are simply variants of the same challenges businesses face with any employee. Onboarding is critical.

Having a manager or mentor available to chat or video call in order to quickly resolve the kinds of problems that show up in the early stages of employment will make onboarding easier and get members of the team extension working productively as quickly as possible.

The other major challenge is integrating the team extension staff with the inhouse team. But this can be handled by simply holding meetings, stand-ups, code reviews, etc, via video so that everyone can participate on an equal footing.

If you want more tips on managing an extended development team read our article The simple secrets to making your extended team work.

Where do you hire an extended development team?

Right here. SoftwareSeni is Sydney-based and our main focus is offering extended team services to Australian startups and businesses that think like startups.

This focus is why our talent pool is based in Indonesia. It provides an extensive time zone overlap with Australia that we find makes working with an extended development team so much more effective, both in terms of quality of communication and responsiveness.

Our team of developers (as well as design, UX, devops, and customer service) is based in Yogyakarta. The city is a major learning centre with a large, well-established tech culture. This has allowed us to pick and choose our team members to build the deep expertise that will benefit any project.

We can provide expertise at scales from a part-time single developer up to a team of dozens and for any stage of product development, from ideation to maintenance mode.

If you’re outside of Australia and have strong remote team management capabilities, you might still find the quality and range of our tech talent worth the larger time zone difference.

So if you’re looking to increase your headcount and are searching out tech talent to deliver the outcomes your business needs, get in touch.

Web app development and your business strategy

 

Smartphones have changed the way people expect to interact with websites on the internet.

55% of internet traffic is from phones and it continues to grow. And 46% of consumers complete the entire purchase process on their phone. This is why we have an article on stats that show why your ecommerce site needs to be mobile-first.

In this article we’re explaining why your mobile-first ecommerce site needs to be a web app.

The App cost dilemma

Apps are eating websites. They’re nicer to use. They’re designed for mobile. They look better on mobile. They have user interaction features that are familiar and designed to make navigation and content consumption intuitive.
This leads to the obvious decision as part of your business strategy to invest in building an app to stay competitive.

But there are a couple of important drawbacks with this strategy.

Your traditional native app is costly to build and maintain. You need to build two of them, one for iOS and one for Android, if you don’t want to lose half your market. And you need to keep your website running for desktop browsers.

Because you need an app you’re suddenly supporting three different platforms and bearing a sudden spike in costs.

Will having an app increase your revenue enough to pay for multiple platforms and still turn a profit?

How long will it take to see a positive ROI if you go down this path?

This spike in costs is why native apps are often out of reach to SMBs and they find themselve losing market share to better funded or simply larger competitors.

Investing in a web app, instead of a native app, is how SMBs can avoid the cost spike and still compete on mobile.

 

Avoiding the high cost of apps

A web app can be thought of as a fancy website, like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket can be thought of as a fancy plane. Technically, they use the same foundation, and even some of the same materials and technology, but the final product, and how it performs, is quite different.

A web app uses advanced frameworks that run in the browser (like React, Vue, Angular), to create the same kind of rich interfaces that you find in a native app. There are limitations, because a web app runs inside of the browser on the phone, which impacts performance and access to device features, but unless you want to build a game or access the phone hardware, most businesses don’t need to worry about them.

Because web apps are built with web technologies – meaning they are designed to run within a browser – their single code base can be built to work across all phones, tablets and desktops. Wherever there is a browser they can run. Even on some smart TVs. In practice, a lower threshold is set on the performance requirements, based on your intended market, in order to ensure quality of the user experience.

Using a single web app code base to run across phones, tablets and desktops means web apps don’t create the expensive spike in costs that comes with supporting multiple platforms.

In fact, a web app makes it possible to generate revenue across all platforms, allowing you to observe where you should invest more money and possibly take your web app to the next level.

 

Taking your web app to the next level

One of the most powerful features of web apps is that anyone can purchase from your business on the internet. You don’t have to go through an app store review process or pay 30% to the app store provider.

Once your web app is live on the internet you will learn a lot. You will learn which platform is your most profitable. You may discover that it will be worth the investment and the fees to turn your web app into a native app.

If you build your web app with the right framework, such as React, you may have already paid for a substantial part of a native app’s development.

You already have the backend paid for and working. All that is left is the interface. With multiple platforms generating revenue, and insights gathered over the months or years your web app has been running, creating a native app might now be feasible.

Tools like React Native can make it cost effective to finally add dedicated support to iOS or Android (depending on your numbers) platforms. Using React Native avoids the full re-code to create a native app if, and only if, you built your web app frontend using React.

Web apps for the win online

The internet is the most competitive market in the world. Because it is the entire world online. Pursuing a web app based strategy gives you access to the largest cross section of customers across platforms. Risks are further mitigated by the lower cost in development compared to native apps, and being from the impact of gatekeepers coming between you and your customers.

At the same time, launching with a web app gives you a foundation of revenue and feedback that will help you make the move into native apps for your customers if the numbers show it makes sense.

If you want to talk more about how building a custom web app can be part of your business strategy, get in contact with us.

Extended Team Model – all you need to know to build the dev team your business needs

The extended team model could be the best tactic to get your startup into the market. Using the extended team model can help you grow your capabilities without eating your margin. And it is the best way to respond quickly to market changes and moves by the competition. Let’s dive into the details behind the Extended Team Model.

What is the Extended Team Model?

The Extended Team Model is an organisational structure where the core team that provides deep institutional and product knowledge is based in-house and works closely with one or more developers who work remotely.

The size of an extended team, and here we are talking mainly about extended developer teams, depends on the needs of the business.

A startup might have a core team of a single Product Manager and the entire development team is an extended team. A corporate business unit might need expertise they can’t access inhouse. A business with an established online presence might need some regular devops hours to keep their website and backend working smoothly.

The extended team model lets businesses scale their hiring to exactly match their needs. As extended development teams are assembled out of a single provider’s talent pool, that hiring can happen quickly – sometimes in days, often not longer than two weeks, rather than the months it can take to attract, vet, and interview team members with the normal hiring process.

How is the Extended Team Model different from Outsourcing?

The big differences between the extended team model and outsourcing are control and integration.

Outsourcing works like a black box. You feed in specifications and you get code or product out. There are deliverables and meetings, but you have zero insight into who is doing the coding, how focused they are on your particular project or even their level of expertise.

With the extended team model you are involved in team selection. You know who will be part of your extended team and you will know, either through testing or interviews, their ability level.

Your extended team members, if they are full time, will be devoted only to your project. Unlike an outsourced developer that you will never contact directly, extended development team members are integrated into your team. They participate in scrums, they work directly on your codebase using the same tools as the rest of your team. Your goals are their goals.

How is the Extended Team Model different from a remote team?

The extended team model differs from a remote team by being more consistent, more flexible and more reliable.

Here the key feature of an extended team is that every extended team member is part of the same talent pool. They come from a single extended team member provider, such as SoftwareSeni. This means they share the same work culture, have the same training (though they may be at different levels of expertise), and have access to the same resources, including dedicated HR and support. And for your business, this means you have a single point of contact to deal with for upsizing and downsizing your extended team, swapping in new skillsets and so on.

The members of a remote team won’t have this additional layer of management. You will be managing each remote team member directly with no insight into their working conditions, work habits or day-to-day productivity.

A remote team will also have to be assembled by going through the same slow hiring process as an inhouse team, instead of the rapid selection process used with an extended team provider.

Why use the extended team model?

The extended team model has a number of advantages, some already discussed above. Speed of hiring is a big one this article keeps mentioning. Another is availability of expertise. Depending upon your location, certain skill sets might be beyond your budget or simply unavailable. Your product vision or business model might not survive these limitations.

So, being able to assemble a team with the requisite skills out of the talent pool of an extended team member provider can be the difference between success or failure.

The extended team model allows you to grow headcount without growing your footprint. All resources your extended team members need are provided by the extended team provider – computers, desks, office space.

Another key feature that makes using the extended team model so powerful is the flexibility to grow and shrink your team based on your exact needs in the moment, or to swap out extended developers for different skill sets as you move through different stages of product development.

When to use the extended team model?

Businesses should use the extended team model when they have a clear and detailed vision of what they want to achieve but are facing constraints across time, funding, talent or space.

That kind of covers just about every business, doesn’t it?

Prior experience in managing developers or projects and exposure to strategies for working with remote team members (almost universal now in 2022) are the two biggest requirements for using the extended team model.

If you don’t have this inhouse experience you might want to take a second look at out-sourcing or hiring a software development agency like SoftwareSeni directly.

How to use the extended team model

Working with an extended team is not much different from working with a mixed inhouse/remote team. You face the same challenges of integrating staff into your processes and work culture, and the overhead that comes with suddenly having a higher headcount.

As an extended team provider we have some experience in this matter. We have an article on the simple secrets to making your extended team work, and of course we are focused on helping our extended team clients succeed and are always available for guidance, support and coaching.

Where to hire an extended team?

Right here. SoftwareSeni is Sydney-based and our main focus is offering extended team services to Australian startups and businesses that think like startups.

This focus is why our talent pool is based in Indonesia. It provides an extensive time zone overlap with Australia that we find makes working with an extended development team so much more effective, both in terms of quality of communication and responsiveness.

Our team of developers (as well as design, UX, devops, and customer service) is based in Yogyakarta. The city is a major learning centre with a large, well-established tech culture. This has allowed us to pick and choose our team members to build the deep expertise that will benefit any project.

We can provide expertise at scales from a part-time single developer up to a team of dozens and for any stage of product development, from ideation to maintenance mode.

If you’re outside of Australia and have strong remote team management capabilities, you might still find the quality and range of our tech talent worth the larger time zone difference.

So if you’re looking to increase your headcount and are searching out tech talent to deliver the outcomes your business needs, get in touch.

10 SaaS startups that can cut months off your runway

As a LEAN+Agile dev house dedicated to building apps and websites for our clients, we are always advising our clients to buy functionality where they can instead of building it.

We are as aware of their runway as they are. And we’re dedicated to getting them to launch with the best MVP possible. And when speed counts and budgets are limited, and even when they’re not, we always go for buy over build.

Our clients are often surprised by not just the quality but the depth of functionality that is now available to be integrated via APIs from thousands of providers. 

Here’s a list of some of the more useful and powerful integrations you should be considering. Note – this isn’t a survey. We’re not providing options or reviews. Think of it more as a proof of existence and a starting point for doing your own dive into the SaaS options out there. 

 

Feed as a Service – stream

A news feed or activity feed with the rich interactions we’re all accustomed to – likes, tagging friends, etc – drives engagement. Feeds aren’t just for social sites. They’re for marketplaces, ecommerce, any app or website that involves events happening in realtime that someone somewhere wants to see. If you have a database its contents can probably be presented as an infinite scrolling feed to your users to like and share.

All that rich interactivity is complex and time-consuming to implement. Then there’s the technical difficulties involved in delivering the feed to all your users so they have a smooth, hiccup-free experience. You’re looking at 1000s of programmer hours whether you sit down and do it right and eat the delay, or launch with the basics working and iterate towards the complete solution.

stream provides APIs for client and server feed management as well SDKs for building apps and websites that integrate their feeds.

 

Authentication as a Service – Auth0

How many ways are there for potential customers to login and access your product? Email address + password? Social logins? Magic email link? SMS link? Let them use it anonymously and authenticate later? Multi-factor authentication using a code sent via SMS, voice, a one-time password app, a hardware key or biometrics? 

It depends, doesn’t it. But security is one of the hardest things to get right. A home-rolled solution will be enough for the early stages of development, but once you’re live on the internet your vulnerability is related to how much money, time and expertise you can spend on security.

Or you can use a provider such as Auth0 who is solely focused on secure authentication.  

 

Fraud Detection as a Service – Sift Science

As the pandemic created a surge in internet usage and online purchases, it also created a surge in digital fraud across both true fraud and friendly fraud categories. If you haven’t heard of friendly fraud, it mainly manifests as chargeback fraud – customers claiming they never received their order. 

Digital fraud requires cooperation and huge datasets to detect and defeat. It’s not something you can do on your own. Services like Stripe Payments and Sift Science integrate thousands of data feeds and signals – such as device fingerprints, transaction histories – to predict and mitigate fraud.

Should you be using their services? If you’re not sure, your accountant can probably tell you.  

 

Images as a service – imgix

Images have a huge impact on your users’ perception of your app or site. They can make it look more engaging, but due to their size loading them can also slow it down. If you rely on user-generated content, like a restaurant recommendation app would, or a marketplace, or you have your own deep catalogue of product images, then handling images and handling them well is an absolute necessity.

But manipulating images is technically challenging and delivering them quickly to your users takes planning and infrastructure.

Services like imgix save you from having to develop inhouse image editing and management expertise. It provides an API that can crop, resize and compress images, and a CDN for caching and delivering them to your users. 

You might say there are open source libraries for manipulating images and Amazon has a CDN, so why? You can ask the same question for every service in this article. The answer is time. Time now, as you move towards launch as quickly as you can, and time later, when you lose feature development hours to maintaining and debugging the code you wrote in house.  

 

Recommendations as a service – Algolia

You have an online store. It would be nice to increase Average Order Value by surfacing appropriate products for your customers. Where do you even start on that? Do your developers need to know statistics? Machine learning? Can you afford developers that already have the skills?

Even with a feature that will deliver a positive ROI it may end up being too expensive, again in time as well as money, to implement or just impossible. A lot of the modern user experience is pretty close to rocket science. But not everyone can hire rocket scientists.

But a service like Algolia lets you access that rocket science through an API that is easily integrated and with pricing that is easy to sign off on.

 

User Comms as a Service – twilio

There are dozens of services that will help you put a chatbox on your site or in your app. Making it easy for a customer to talk to a rep to help boost conversions is a strategy that is growing in popularity as it gets easier to implement.

A text chat today might lead later to a call to support after purchase or an email with warranty information or a newsletter with your latest offers.

We’re highlighting twilio for this category because their service offers APIs that allow you to integrate chat, voice and email comms with your customers. On top of the comms, it allows you to unify all your interactions with each customer to streamline engagement and allow you to personalise their interactions with your business.

This is the kind of feature you don’t even dream of being able to build for yourself. You use theirs and you’re grateful you can leverage it to your advantage.     

 

Payments as a Service

This is a no-brainer. There is no question you are going to use a third party payments API. You’re trying to launch here, not reinvent online banking. The question you have to answer is which one, or which ones, are you going to integrate?

And are you going to stick to straight payments through a service like Stripe or are you going to integrate a Buy Now Pay Later service like Afterpay or Klarna? 

 

Onboarding as a Service – Pendo

For an app or site of any complexity one of the biggest challenges is onboarding new users so they can use your powerful features, recognise the value of your product, and become long term customers.

This onboarding is handled by tours using on-screen pop-ups and overlays. The value is in the tour, not in the code that animates the tour.  

The advantage of integrating a service like Pendo is that their implementation of product tours has advanced to the point where it offers authoring tools. This frees your developers from having to dedicate time to what is intrinsically a marketing function. 

Pendo also collects data so you can see which features are being used, allowing you to continuously improve your onboarding experience and profit from it.

 

Shipping as a Service – ShipEngine

If your business deals in physical items then you’re going to be dealing with the headaches of shipping. It’s a time sink that cuts into the profits of every transaction.

Services like ShipEngine let you use a single integration to hook into a network of delivery and logistics companies, allowing you to optimise your costs and helping quickly and painlessly arrange local, national or international deliveries.

Security as a Service – Wazuh

Your business is online. You have a server. Perhaps multiple servers. They’re all connected to that hive of scum and villainy that is the modern internet. What are you doing to keep your business secure? How much time and how many developers and devops can you dedicate to security? 

Staying current with threats and mitigations is a full-time job for a team. Being able to lean on the smarts of a large, dedicated security team through services like Wazuh reduces the risk of you being knocked offline or worse. 

Are you going to buy or build?

Software is a different kind of business. And if you have a website or an app make no mistake, you are in the software business. Pick almost any portion of an app or service and a deep expertise is either necessary or provides a huge advantage. 

This is what makes SaaS such a pervasive model. It’s the expense of expertise distributed across hundreds of customers. This business model is creating the re-usable modularity of functionality that software businesses have been wishing for since the 80s.

Any app can now launch with top-tier features in a fraction of the time and the fraction of the budget that was possible just five years ago.

You might worry about lock-in, and seeing money going out the door to other services might cause you physical pain, but that’s a problem that can be solved down the road when you are big enough for it to matter. 

For launching a new website or app, a strategic set of SaaS services can get you impressing customers and pulling in revenue faster than you can imagine, no matter how many developers you have.

If you want to talk to us about your own buy vs build challenges or you’re looking for extended team members to help you build, get in contact with us. We’d be happy to discuss the options open to you.

3 stats that prove mobile-first is a must for ecommerce sites

 

We’ve also thrown in a bonus 4th statistic at the end of the article on why you should care about mobile-first ecommerce. It’s a bit of a kicker. If you’re about to start on your own ecommerce website development project, this will convince you how important a consideration mobile is.  

So much has changed since November 2019. New work habits have been created (hi Zoom!). Along with work habits, new media consumption habits have been created and so have new shopping habits.

Due to lockdowns, brick and mortar stores had to face the reality of customers never setting a foot in their premises. There was a rush by businesses to establish an online presence.

Throw up a store. Anywhere. By anyone.  

This strategy saw mixed success. Having to compete online against giant retailers (ahem, Amazon), smaller businesses had to bring their best game. That game had to be focused on mobile. It often wasn’t.

Stat Number 1 – Page Views On Mobile

55% of page views come from mobile phones.

More than half the traffic to a business’s online store could be originating from mobile. Of course this changes from industry to industry, but the number is only going to get bigger for everyone.

With over half the traffic coming from mobile, businesses need to ask, did half of their design budget, their coding budget, go towards building their mobile experience? These are not second rate citizens you slap on a responsive design and hope it boosts sales a few percentage points.

On average, this 55% of pageviews will end up being almost 50% of revenues (as will be revealed below). 

If businesses don’t build their online stores mobile-first, they can miss out on those revenues. 

Mobile-first means more than a design that fits into the vertical format of a phone screen. Performance is a huge part of the experience. Due to bandwidth and CPU constraints, an ecommerce store that looks slick and performs well on the desktop can look good on mobile but be too slow to load and too sluggish to use.

Google Pagespeed Insights uses a simulated mid-tier mobile phone on a mobile network to measure site performance. It uses the results when deciding how high up to rank sites in their search results. 

A mobile-first approach takes performance on mobile as well as design into the overall UX process.

Stat Number 2 – The Purchase Process

 

46% of consumers complete their entire purchase process
(from research to payment) on mobile.

This statistic, more than any of the others, points to how important mobile is becoming. It is a snowball effect. More powerful phones with bigger displays have made shopping online via a phone more pleasant. The constant growth of mobile traffic has led to new websites always launching mobile capable (if not mobile-first) in order to capture that traffic. And with websites always growing more enjoyable to use on mobile, mobile traffic is capturing more and more of the purchase funnel.

One of the most important ease–of-use changes is the introduction of one-click payments. Digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as payment service providers like Stripe and Adyen, are creating a new class of customers who are comfortable making online purchases on their mobile phone. One-click payment options remove most of the hurdles to completing payments.

Stat Number 3 – Closing the sale

58% of all multi-device purchases use mobile to close the sale.

There are different ways to interpret this big number. It could be that the digital wallet integration in mobile phones makes completing a purchase on that device the easiest option. It could be that people research purchases on a laptop or desktop, but make the final decision and complete the purchase somewhere more comfortable and conducive to decision making.

There’s probably dozens of scenarios that lead to this result. But they all point to the importance of streamlining the purchase process on your website. It probably means integrating more payment options. It definitely means making sure your website works smoothly across a range of handsets.

On a more technical level, making it easy to share a shopping cart between desktop and mobile experiences will help land more multi-device purchases. This can be by having a very simple sign-up process or being able to capture or send QR codes to access the transaction on another device.

The Kicker Stat – Customers are picky

40% of users will go to the competitor after a bad mobile experience.

That pretty much says it all. More than half your traffic will come via mobile. You can lose almost half of it, or about 25% of your total potential traffic and revenue, if the mobile experience of your website isn’t good enough.

The biggest problem, the one that sends most people away, is websites loading slowly on mobile. Those beautiful hero images that fill your desktop browser window don’t load as fast on a phone. Maybe they do on your iPhone 13 Pro Max. On wifi. But that’s not going to be your mobile audience. It’s also a symptom of building your website desktop-first instead of mobile-first.

How to build mobile-first to maximise mobile revenues

There are no big secrets. It’s a mix of careful design, strategic coding, and backend resources. The two most popular starting points for our clients’ ecommerce websites are WooCommerce and Shopify. They both provide strong options for delivering a mobile experience to your customers.

Shopify is easy to get up and running, and with a careful design and use of resources can be quite performant. But there are limits to what you can tweak. While the ease-of-use makes getting your business online in a reduced time frame possible, you might find the lack of control of the backend keeps you from maximising your customers’ experience. 

WooCommerce is infinitely tweakable. As it is built on the open source WordPress CMS you are in control of the entire stack including the backend. This gives you many more choices in optimising delivery of your website to mobile. It does require more of an initial investment, but many clients feel the control and the power on tap it provides is worth it.

Taking your online business mobile-first

If your current ecommerce website isn’t mobile-first, it is always possible to make the necessary frontend changes to fix that. Making changes to the backend will depend on how your site is being hosted.

If you are setting out on creating a new ecommerce website, then you are in the perfect position to ensure that mobile-first informs your tech choices, your design choices and your overall strategy.

If you have any questions about how your business can make the move to mobile-first or how you should build for mobile-first, drop us an email and we’ll get in touch for a chat.