June 16, 2017
Why You’re Crazy for Not Building Your Products With an External Development Partner
Full disclosure: I am an external product development partner for several highly successful companies - gaining market share and having successful exits.
There are a lot of elements of a business that should not be outsourced - like corporate strategy, domain expertise, and customer engagement; product development is not one of them. If you haven't considered working with an external partner for software product development, you may be crazy. Here's why.
Your Success is Their Success
If you are concerned about being taken advantage of, or not getting a good value for your investment, consider this: your external development partner has their incentives aligned with yours. If your business grows, they grow with you. They can't build a business on short-term projects where they take advantage of their clients and don't deliver value. First, they'll have to replace your revenue. Second, there's no chance of getting you to refer or promote them.
If they don't put your success first, they won't grow. And the best partners are growing organically at over 20% annually with many multi-year clients. The top development partners align their business to yours, and focus on your success.
Your Business is Your Customer. Their Business is People.
From recruiting to talent management and retention, product development partners have this figured out. How much time do you spend looking for new employees, interviewing them, training them, and managing them? Let your partner bear these costs and responsibilities, so you can focus on your product, market, and business success. They know what it takes to attract and grow exceptional engineers and product experts. They retain their talent because they have diverse career paths and opportunities to advance quickly while working on leading technologies.
They Have Access to Talent that You Don't
Labor markets can be quite limiting, especially in technology. The demands for good engineers in the US far exceeds the supply. Development partners focus on securing partnerships with top universities in top tier cities across the world so you don't have to. The freedom to find talent wherever it exists, when you need it, enables you to bring your products to market faster and more efficiently.
They Bring an Unbiased Perspective That's Not Vested in Particular Outcomes
Do you ever find that your teams are emotionally attached to bad ideas because they are theirs? Bringing an outside perspective can help you break away from bad habits and ideas. A development partner can help you evaluate alternatives with clarity. They're not afraid to ask the "dumb" questions that someone immersed in the environment may not think to ask. Development partners focus on your business outcome and use market and user data to guide their decisions.
They Bring Broad Industry Experience
While technology companies can hire fantastic engineers and everyone has access to the same educational content, your employees only have the experience of their relatively short and isolated careers to pull from. A product development partner brings experience from a broad collection of internal and external teams across industries. They can spot trends before they're apparent within any given industry, be it technologies, techniques, or strategies. Often the greatest innovations come from this cross-industry correlation of ideas.
They Have a Proven Process for Executing
How frequently do you form a new team or build a new product? Have you optimized the whole process from ideation through shipping? If you're not doing it frequently, you're not disciplined in it. This puts your business success at risk. Will you get to the market in time with the right product? A development partner, on the other hand, makes it their business to consistently build teams and products with speed, quality, and reliability. Every part of the process of building a new product and forming a new team is refined and matured.
They Have the Capacity to Stay Focused on Technology Trends and Techniques
You need to pay close attention to your market and your customer. You need to understand them deeply, understand how to create value for them, and think of innovative ways to grow your business. Technology is evolving rapidly, and it's not the core of your value proposition - don't confuse where your business value comes from. Your customers don't care what technology you're using or how you build your software - as long as your product meets their needs. A product development partner focuses solely on software development expertise - plug in any industry domain and they'll know how to build a product that meets your customer's needs, you just need to guide them.
They are Technology Experts
If you have questions about when or how to use a new technology, development partners can be invaluable consultants. Technology trends may not always be best for your business, and it may require an outside perspective to help you see that Development partners understand the risks and rewards of new technologies and strategies, and can guide you on when to deploy them. They stay abreast of the latest trends across technologies, and have deep expertise deploying the technologies in a variety of product environments and domains.