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Posted on December 18, 2011

Team vs. Solo Freelancer

If you have ever been in search of a developer for your project, you have certainly faced a choice between a development team (or its member) and a freelancer. There is no simple and obvious answer to the question “Who is better?”, and the final decision usually depends on the project’s specifics. That’s why we have decided to list some pros and cons of both these options.

There are a lot of comparisons between companies and freelancers but we’ll examine an individual freelancer vs.

a small team/its member instead. Our judgments are based on our own experience and our philosophy of doing business.

Price

Since most freelancers work at home, they have really low overheads resulting in lower prices for their job whereas a team has much higher operating costs including an office rent, salaries, equipment, etc.

For someone a price alone is often the number one reason behind the decision on whom to hire. However, it is important to consider several other factors before awarding the job.

Quality, response time, and ongoing availability may actually be more important than costs especially when time is limited and competition is stiff.

Moreover, if we are talking about very small studios, they can really compete with freelancers in terms of expenses and prices.

Quality

Ideally, quality should be the most important determinant of decision making. You know what they say – you get what you pay for. In our opinion, delivery quality of a team/its member will be higher in most cases. There is daily exchange of experience within a team, the members keep to coding standards, arrange internal training, regular code reviews, etc. In addition, the level of architectural solutions will be higher as the team has probably taken part in big projects before and gained good experience. It is also natural that when brainstorming several people often come up with better and more flexible architecture than a single freelancer does.

Moreover, teams usually include people who are responsible for quality control. They can always double-check what developers have done and notice what is missing from a fresh perspective.

Delivery time

No matter how good the quality or how low the cost is, it won’t do you any good if your project is delivered late and you miss a critical deadline. If you have a product to be launched on a specific date, time can be a crucial criterion for your decision.

Since many freelancers do not work full-time and don’t have additional personnel to rely on, a 40-hour project could take 2-3 weeks. In a team, multiple people can be assigned to your project in order to meet even the most challenging deadline.

Dependability

Nothing can ruin a project faster than putting trust in someone who isn’t dependable. If you’ve ever dealt with unanswered e-mails or phone calls going straight to voicemail, you can understand just how important this factor is.

Considering that freelancing is often a source of supplemental income, your project may fall to the bottom of a freelancer’s priority list.

Additionally, freelancers with full-time day jobs can be difficult to reach. When dealing with a company, you can almost always contact a person you need in and out of business hours.

Final Words

We do not claim that all the above mentioned points work for every single freelancer or team, but we believe them to be essential and true-to-life. Hope this article has made you think about things other than just a price factor. If you want to end up with a product that represents your business in the best way possible, choose smartly and carefully.

We would be happy to hear about your personal experience of working with freelancers/development companies. Feel free to share your thoughts and ask questions :)