IT Team Management Tips

4 Engagement Models in Software Development

What are the most common engagement models in software development and which one suits your project? Find out in this article.

The success of your project begins with choosing the appropriate engagement model that suits your needs, and the choice you make would depend on a number of factors such as the project’s complexity, duration, your business goals, strategy, budget, and more. Based on the considerations you make, you might opt for different engagement models in software development or a combination of models that would benefit your business. 

To put it simply, an engagement model is a kind of a plan or a strategy that describes the provisions of a partnership between client and vendor. It specifies how exactly the developers provided by the vendor would be involved in the project, what responsibilities they would take, how much the client would pay for their services, who and how would manage the performance of the development team and other aspects of the development process. Straight off the back, there’s no single versatile engagement model that suits all types of projects, which is why you must choose the one that suits your particular project. 

Today, we are going to give you an overview of four major engagement models we ourselves employ so that you can decide which one suits your software project.

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Dedicated Team

The dedicated development team model is as versatile as it gets when it comes to choosing the engagement model. Here, you can shuffle the resources, change the size and qualifications of the team on the go, choose the pricing model, make changes to the development process depending on your needs, and so on. This model is best suited for long-term projects that involve changing requirements and shifting goals throughout the development process. Usually, the payments are made on the monthly basis and the team ensures they have all the necessary resources to keep up with the project’s requirements. Of course, it is not all perfect, so you might want to consider the following pros and cons of hiring dedicated developers. 

Pros 

  • When you hire a dedicated team, you get access to highly experienced developers, knowledge, skill, and the resources they possess to get your project going fast
  • Real-time progress assessment and full control over the development process
  • The customer has the opportunity to allocate the resources in accordance with their needs, set up the deadlines, and change the requirements along the way
  • The budget does not change much regardless of the changes in the project’s scale and updated requirements
  • Cost-efficiency while using the best human resources and an efficient IT infrastructure.

Cons

  • You must plan things ahead and have a clear understanding of the development process, your personal engagement is critical for the success of the project
  • The client must have a clear vision of the project’s goals to ensure maximum output from the team
  • In case you hire both in-house and remote dedicated developers, the differences in opinions might result in delays and communication breakdowns.

Time & Material

The time and material model is great for establishing healthy and controlled relationships between the client and the vendor. It facilitates continuous communication and flexibility for changing and modifying the project’s scope and specifications. If you are not sure what your project will end up looking like over time, what its scale is going to be, and what destination you are going to achieve by the end of custom development, this model is a perfect choice. 

You and your vendor are going to stay in touch at all times, and in case you’d need any changes in the project scope or specs, these changes can be added easily and without redundant hustle. Let’s say you would need some new features added to your application midway through the development process, you will just tell your vendor what you need, they would calculate the necessary expenses to implement those features and add that to your bill. This model fits volatile projects in industries like IoT, AI, and game development where innovations emerge rapidly and you cannot be sure what is going to come next changing the market and its trends.

Pros

  • An extremely dynamic and agile engagement model that allows for quick and seamless changes in the development process, team structure, and timelines
  • Easy monitoring and close involvement of the client make the project management much simpler
  • The client is in full control over the development process and can change the project’s objectives on the go
  • The client can request changes to the final product before or after it gets to the market release.

Cons

  • Full involvement might be too much of a trouble for you if you just want things done while you tend to your other business needs
  • The software cost might swell drastically as you add more of the new features to the final product or change its specs 
  • Numerous changes to the project’s specs can delay the final delivery rendering any timeline predictions useless.

Fixed Price

Fixed price is the best option for small and medium-size software development projects. The most important thing here is to know exactly what you need and make sure your vendor has a perfect understanding of your needs. As you might have deduced from the name, the deal is that you pay a fixed price for a particular type of service without any deviation from the course. This means that you will need a precise plan for the project so that your vendor can give you a clear timeline, and thus, the total price of development at the beginning of the development process. Your involvement in the development process will be minimal – you just tell the vendor what you need, make a payment, and wait for the results.

Pros

  • Minimal scope of the project means that you can outline everything from the start and get the exact result you need
  • The model gives you a clear budget so that you can plan your expenses precisely
  • Your involvement is minimal or not required whatsoever
  • With all the requirements set in stone, your vendor can achieve 100% accuracy and perfect performance.

Cons

  • The model requires precise and errorless planning on your side
  • This is not a flexible model by any stretch of the imagination and you won’t be able to change anything once the development stage is on
  • Long preparation stage.

Outstaffing

Outstaffing is the engagement model for software development in which the business delegates certain tasks to the employees of another company, typically an outstaffing company, that takes care of all the paperwork, payrolls, vacations, insurance, and all the administrative issues. This engagement model is rather versatile and can be used for different types of tasks from software development to support and maintenance.

Pros

  • Non-essential tasks are delegated to a second party so that you and your core employees can focus on more pressing matters
  • You can reduce maintenance costs as you won’t have to take care of all the administrative issues
  • You have little to no responsibility for what happens within your outstaffing team – their employer takes care of their performance
  • You don’t need to pay taxes for the outstaffed personnel.

Cons

  • You have little to no control over the team
  • Communication quality might be compromised by time gaps or language barriers
  • The relationships between your in-house teams and outstaffed teams might get complicated

Which Engagement Model to Choose?

Well, that would depend on what you are trying to achieve with the software engagement model. If you have a small-sized project in front of you and you know exactly what needs to be done, the Fixed Price model is the obvious choice. If you are facing a complex and dynamic project that is likely to evolve and change over time, go for the Dedicated Team model. If you need some non-essential tasks handled by people outside your organization – outstaffing is your choice, and if it is a complicated and important project you want to be finished flawlessly – The Time and Material model is the way to go.

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You do not always need to choose one over another as some of these software engagement models of cooperation pair quite nicely with one another. You can tell already that the Outstaffing model can be paired easily with different aspects of the Time and Material model. You can hire people from another organization and assign your project to them while cooperating closely you’re your outstaffed developers and providing them with the resources they need. The Dedicated Team model can also include Fixed Price cooperation. Basically, you hire a dedicated team, give them clear goals to achieve, make a payment, and wait for the results. In our experience here at Intersog, there are no two projects that are exactly the same, and sometimes you need to be creative when combining the best features of different engagement models. Your project is unique and it might need a unique approach that does not fit within the definitions of a single model, and that is why we take the best out of each to guarantee the best results.

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Intersog has been recognized as a leading IT solutions provider in the United States and beyond. The company has been providing tech consulting, staffing and software development services for Fortune-500 companies, tech startups, and SaaS enterprises for more than fourteen years.