How do UK Startups Use IT Outsourcing to Get Things Done?
There are many challenges that UK startups face. Do you seek venture capital to fund your venture or bootstrap? Do you keep things small and grow steadily, or growth hack and scale fast?
I wrote last week about how London startups navigate their tech journeys. Since then I’ve been thinking and realised that these challenges are faced by all UK Startups. Whether or not you have the tech skills to do the work you need in-house, there are so many reasons that make outsourcing a smart choice.
Outsourcing is a great way to get things done when you are starting out, especially IT outsourcing for specialist tasks or projects. It gives you access to the skills that you need to get tasks done, when you need it.
But sometimes it is hard to know what you can outsource as a startup. You have heard of others who are using IT outsourcing to get things done but it might be hard to see how that could help your business. So, in this blog, we are looking at what tasks or projects you can outsource as
Mobile App Development
Mobile App Development covers a wide range of skills which you could use in your startup. It might be the build for your app in Android or iOS or porting (creating your Android app for iOS or vice versa) it to a new platform.
Anand Pajpani, Co-founder of Memfy, outsourced his mobile app development project. He found that ‘having our own staff wasn’t going to be affordable, particularly with the red-tap that surrounds hiring top talent in the UK.’
For him, outsourcing the app development has helped them to get the app to market.
‘We’re…a bootstrapped startup in that the concept, and delivery is entirely self-funded. Without the app, our growth is stunted so we needed apps to boost growth and really test the concept. And it’s primarily because of the self-funded part, that we’ve outsourced this.’
As I’ve written about in the past on the blog, if you have an outline or idea of the design for your app, this can be a great start. Sue and James, Co-creators at the Happy App Company, wanted to create their first app to take their weight-loss programme to a mobile audience.
They knew where their skills for this project were. ‘Although we were able to create all the design work in-house we were not able to develop the code ourselves.’ They used outsourcing to get the app made to their design.
From this start they’ve had great success and now have over 50 apps available. They still use outsourcing to create the apps and would recommend it.
‘Outsourcing has proved invaluable for us and as long as you do your homework and thoroughly research the freelancers it is a great way to work.’
Another role that Anand Pajpani from Memfy outsourced was that of a Tech API Lead. Technical roles like this are crucial to any project. You know that you want an expert working in that role but it’s tough to know if it is a permanent need within your team, or just part of the task you are currently working on.
Also as a startup and especially one in the UK, you know that these kind of technical skills are highly sought after. Getting someone that is highly skilled to work as part of your team, as we’ve already mentioned, can be costly. And when you decide to add employees to your team you know that you want to be able to offer more than just a great salary. In the early stages putting together a salary and benefits package can be tough.
Here is where IT outsourcing is a great option. In fact, we’ve used outsourcing in just this situation! Here at Yeeply we needed expertise in web development so we outsourced the work to one of our trusted developers, who joined us at our offices as part of our development team for a week. Having the chance to bring new specialist skills to our team was a great benefit alongside getting this crucial work done.
Coding is a pretty broad term and can cover a range of different specializations. There are many ways that developers can help you with coding and all of these can be outsourced. You might decide to outsource projects like these because you aren’t tech minded, or you might be a tech co-founder who just wants to focus on other projects to get your startup moving in the right direction.
Jamie Hurst, CTO at JimJam, had the task of creating their online physiotherapy service from scratch, both for the web and as an app. He has used outsourcing to help him with back-end server-side coding and front-end coding.
For those of you that aren’t so tech minded (which is OK, it’s great to get the chance to cut through the jargon for you) front-end coding usually refers to anything that a user might interact with. Back-end coding, by contrast, is usually that which the user can’t see, like databases or interaction with the server.
Jamie, as a CTO, knew that he wanted to outsource these coding projects. He talks about the developers he worked with:
‘They tend to be more experienced, and we needed everyone to get off the ground and get building as soon as possible; they’re flexible, they quoted us a fixed price for a project, and it allowed us to secure some early-stage grants for the project, helping us to manage cash flow a bit more predictably early on.’
And as the startup grows Jamie thinks he will continue to outsource. ‘We hope to continue working with them in the future as our business grows for dedicated projects, while growing our in-house team for building and developing the core platform.’
Front-end coding can sometimes also include UX/UI projects. UX – or User Experience – refers what the website or app might look like and how users would interact with it. Roberto Gleria, CEO and Founder of bCheeky, outsourced many parts of the development of his new app including using a development team to work on the UX.
Why did he turn to IT outsourcing? Cost, as others have already mentioned, was a factor.
‘To bring this range of talent in-house would be a very expensive exercise. By outsourcing, I can control what is done and negotiate what it will cost. For a start-up developing a new innovative product, I feel it is an intelligent way to control, costs and if the project was to be successful, then you could work on bring each single function in-house as and when needed.’
The UK offers startups a great place to begin their journey. However, a larger marketplace can mean that getting the skills you need for your UK startup is harder than you think. At these early stages there are so many ways that IT outsourcing can help.
It isn’t just about keeping costs down, it is about building a lean business model from the outset that you can scale quickly when the time comes. Having outsourcing as a tool to help you get there is a smart startup move.