Employee, Freelancer, or Agency: Choosing the Best Option to Hire a Ruby on Rails Developer
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Airbnb, GitHub, and Shopify show us that Ruby on Rails is not only a reliable but also a very powerful and versatile tool for a startup of any scale. Ruby on Rails promotes fast development and high product quality at launch. That’s why Ruby on Rails developers are appreciated and are often hard to find. There are currently 2,642 Ruby on Rails job posts in the US on Indeed.com but only 278 resumes on the same website. So what does it take to find a really experienced and capable Ruby on Rails developer?
As a startup owner, you may be wondering how to hire a Ruby on Rails developer. You can employ a programmer in-house, hire a freelancer, or hire a development company. Each approach has its pluses and minuses and can fit different project requirements.
Option 1 — Employ a developer in-house
This approach involves hiring a developer to sit in your office all day or work remotely. If you work this way, you’ll get the following benefits:
1. Focus on your startup only
While working only for you, a full-time developer will be doing tasks that you need, when you need them, and in the order you set. When employing a full-time developer, you can be sure that they will dedicate all their time to your project and won’t be switching between two or three side projects for other clients.
2. Simple communication
With an in-house developer, you’re able to keep the communication as close as possible without silos and differences in time zones. Personal interaction allows you to explain your expectations and make sure that your Ruby on Rails developer clearly understands your ideas.
3. Easy management
Having a developer in your office gives you an opportunity to manage each and every task. If you apply an Agile methodology, it’s even easier to manage a developer’s workflow with daily meetings, demos, and retrospectives.
But employing an in-house developer can also have some drawbacks that might persuade you to choose another method of cooperation with a Ruby on Rails specialist.
1. It can be difficult to find an experienced candidate in your area
Your location is important when you’re hiring an RoR developer. It can be especially hard to find a local RoR developer if you live in a place with few or no universities or development companies where people can acquire knowledge and gain development experience.
2. It can be difficult to attract someone for a small project
Developers who agree to work in an office don’t want to change their jobs every several months. Acclimating takes some time, as a developer needs to get acquainted with the team and the company itself. It will be very hard to persuade someone to take your offer if your project is small or doesn't involve complicated tasks.
3. It’s difficult and expensive to employ people
When employing workers, you assume the responsibility to provide them with all guarantees according to the labor code of your country. If your startup has a tight budget, full-time employees can make a hole in it.
Bear in mind that hiring in-house employees can also be a long and tiring process, especially due to the bureaucracy in some countries. Along with all that, you’ll need to hire some specialists to assist you with the legal side of the process and all accounting issues. That’s why when you decide to employ a developer, you need to add expenditures on your company’s accountant and lawyer to your budget.
When to employ an in-house RoR developer
Startups that already have a team of in-house developers can consider employing a Ruby on Rails specialist. But you have to be sure that you can provide this developer with ongoing tasks.
Where to find an in-house RoR developer
Developers who would like to work for a company or a startup usually post their CVs on job platforms like Indeed or CareerBuilder. Another option is to go on LinkedIn and look for a professional there.
All these platforms have a wide range of features and filters to help you find the right person locally or remotely.
Option 2 — Hire a Ruby on Rails freelancer
The next option is working with a remote freelancer. To understand if this model of cooperation would be beneficial or simply frustrating, you need to consider all the pluses and minuses of hiring a freelancer.
1. It’s cheaper
A freelancer can be cheaper than an in-house developer or a team. You can compare hourly rates of developers with the required skill set from different countries and choose candidates that meet your budget.
With this option, you pay only for hours a freelancer spends doing your tasks or for the project as a whole if you agree on a fixed price.
You don’t need to provide a developer with a workplace and equipment or pay for any social safeguards.
2. Easy to find someone with the necessary skill set
Freelancers can live anywhere and location doesn’t play any role. This makes it much easier to find and hire a Ruby on Rails freelance developer with the necessary experience and knowledge that matches your budget than if you were looking for one in your local area.
More than that, if you want to find a developer with a specific educational background or who’s from a particular country, it will be much easier to find a freelancer than an in-house developer who satisfies these criteria.
In terms of speed, cost, and experience, freelancers can be a great choice. Yet this type of partnership also has some downsides that can emerge after you’ve started the cooperation.
1. Difficult to manage
Poor management is a common problem when hiring a freelancer, since you have much less influence over a freelance developer than an in-house worker, especially if there’s a large time zone difference. Tasks and checking tasks may be done with a delay.
The inability to manage a worker all the time creates trust problems. An employer can’t check how much time a developer has spent on their project and whether the difficulties a developer faced were real.
2. Lower engagement and motivation
Freelancers are usually hired to do specific tasks, not whole projects. In some cases, freelance developers don’t even understand how the final product will work and who the target users are. Under such circumstances, it’s difficult to stay motivated, be engaged, and think about end users.
Full-stack freelance developers who do the whole project from scratch can be more motivated, especially if they don’t have any pet projects and are dedicated to your tasks.
Another common concern is lack of motivation to learn new technologies and gain new skills. More than that, freelancers work alone and often don’t have mentors to check their code quality. As a result, freelancers often stick to one technology stack and don’t develop their technical and soft skills, or else they do so very slowly and get stuck at the same level of expertise.
3. Mismatch of expertise
Freelancer platforms like Upwork have a special testing procedure to estimate the knowledge and level of a developer. The tests are rather precise, yet it’s difficult to check who exactly has passed them. Some platforms don’t require passing tests, so developers can indicate any information about themselves and their experience. The question is how to estimate the actual experience of a freelancer.
When to hire a Ruby on Rails freelancer
Freelancer is a great option when you have a team of experts and you need part of your work to be done in Ruby on Rails. It would be best if a person from your team with a technical background helped you interview candidates to estimate their real expertise before you hire a Ruby developer.
A freelancer can bring a valuable contribution to your project if you discuss all the possible risks and issues connected with management and communication and sign a contract to protect both parties.
Where to find a freelancer
You can use platforms like Upwork, Toptal, and Guru to find Ruby on Rails developers for hire. These platforms have very convenient search features and filters and provide you with rates and feedback about developers from previous customers.
Option 3 — Hire a development company
If your startup needs a team of developers, not just one specialist, and you don’t have an in-house development department, consider cooperating with a development company.
Here are the advantages of such decision:
1. Flexible and scalable team
If you work with a team of freelancers and your startup grows, you’ll have to look for another specialist by yourself, fill them in, and manage the communication with those who are already on your project.
A full-stack development agency has a large pool of talent and can form a team specifically for your project. Thus, you’ll get a team with all the required specialists, which you can easily expand when you need it and which can develop your project from top to bottom.
2. Streamlined management processes
A software development company streamlines communication and management by assigning a project manager to the team to keep all stakeholders on the same page and ensure that communication is maintained between all participants.
Development companies create workflows that allow project managers to be as effective as possible. Here at RubyGarage, for instance, our project managers communicate with product owners every day, send daily reports with all completed tasks, and send weekly reports to show the overall progress of projects. Along with that, project managers collect feedback from every team member, check their statuses, plan meetings for better efficiency, and define the responsibilities of every team member, their roles, their impact level, and their key input.
This workflow helps project managers to deliver the right information to the right people, avoid misunderstandings and delays, and manage risks.
3. High engagement and motivation
In comparison with freelancers, who usually don’t participate in the whole product development cycle and only partially contribute to a product’s success, development companies are more motivated to successfully launch a product. But why?
Development companies have a business-oriented mindset and are focused on building long-term relationships with their customers. About 80 percent of B2B companies consider customer experience as key to their growth.
74% of all B2B executives believe their business customers expect them to not only understand the end consumers’ needs, but also help their business customers develop and sell hyperrelevant solutions to those end consumers.
4. Easy to check expertise and skill set
To find out the real expertise and skill set of a team you want to hire, you can check their portfolio and their ratings and feedback from previous customers. Websites like Clutch and GoodFirms collect real feedback about development companies from all over the world. This makes it easy to find out about all the disgruntled customers of a company you’re considering as your technology partner.
Social activity of the potential vendor counts as well. As a rule, companies that organize, sponsor, and participate in specialized tech events are highly motivated in developing their own employees’ skills and growing professionally. Events like RubyC, RailsConf, EuRuKo, and Ruby Kaigi are well known in the Ruby on Rails community. It might be helpful to check if vendors you’ve shortlisted have taken part in these events.
Check out our overview of the RubyGarage team’s visit to the RubyC conference this summer.
To find out what the corporate culture, values, and work environment are like inside the agency you’re considering as a potential partner, you can read feedback from employees (especially former employees). This information can be found on websites like Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com.
Employee feedback about a company indicates if the vendor is reliable and also shows values that the company promotes. High employee turnover increases expenses and also has a negative effect on company efficiency and, thus, on your project. Development companies that have high staff retention rates create conditions where developers can grow, learn new things, share knowledge, and think creatively. Such teams are usually highly motivated and think outside the box.
5. Help with business idea validation
Modern development agencies are becoming more than just vendors for mobile or web app development. As a rule, agencies have lots of experience building startups, from idea validation through product launch and maintenance. Often, development agencies literally educate their clients on building startups and support them at every stage of product development.
By the way, you can check out how we at RubyGarage help our clients evaluate their startup ideas in order to build products that are truly demanded by the target audience.
1. Can cost more than one developer or freelancer
The hourly rate of a team is usually higher than that of a freelancer. Nevertheless, the costs for development services vary from one country to another. The rate of an outsourcing company in Eastern Europe can be less than the rate of an American freelance developer. The US, Australia, and Western Europe have the highest rates for development companies. And for startups in these regions, software outsourcing is more cost efficient than working with developers in their own countries.
And here are rates of individual Ruby on Rails developers from CodementorX, a platform for freelancers.
Comparing the figures, we see that it’s not always cheaper to hire a Ruby on Rails freelance developer than an outsourcing company. And it’s not always cheaper to hire a freelance developer than to employ an in-house developer, because you eliminate many operational costs like taxes, benefits, and training.
2. Isn’t cost-effective for small tasks
It’s clear that you don’t need a whole team if all you want done is a small task for one developer. If the job is small and is based on one technology, it’s faster and more efficient to cooperate with only one freelancer.
When to hire a development agency
You can go with a development agency if you need different specialists with specific skill sets for your technology stack and you have little or no technical background to evaluate their knowledge and expertise. Also, it’s a good idea to hire an agency if you don’t have experience managing a team of freelancers and would like to narrow down communication to one responsible person who will take care of all issues.
If you need a technical partner who can validate your business idea and provide you with a roadmap to building and launching your startup from scratch, a development company is your best choice.
Where to find a development company
There are several approaches to looking for and validating a Ruby on Rails development company.
- Option #1: LinkedIn profiles. Development companies use LinkedIn not only to expand their online presence but also to tell their potential customers about their history, culture, values, and all the great products they’ve launched. On LinkedIn, you can learn what direction a company wants to develop in and what goals it has.
- Option #2: Rating websites like Clutch. Platforms like Clutch and GoodFirms collect information about different companies in the form of ratings and feedback from customers. All feedback is moderated and checked by non-engaged specialists so you can trust it.
- Option #3: Events and conferences. You can also find a lot of development companies at IT conferences and other events connected with modern technologies. Some development agencies not only participate in such events but also organize them to share their experience. If your project is connected with technologies like blockchain or machine learning, you might look at conferences for vendors that have experience successfully applying these technologies.
- Option #4: Portfolio. The portfolio of projects that a company has helped to develop, design, and launch is one of the best proofs of their expertise. In a portfolio, you can read case studies of implemented projects and find customer testimonials. You can compare the testimonial of a particular customer with his or her feedback on Clutch and GoodFirms and find out if the feedback is honest and relevant.
If you think that a development company is exactly what your startup needs, you can find a lot of tips on how to choose a reliable technology partner in our article on how to find a technology partner.
Even if you want to start developing your Ruby on Rails project right now, it’s best to take your time and look for a really suitable candidate. Remember that the decency and reliability of candidates mean as much as their qualifications.
The main criteria to take into account when choosing a Ruby on Rails developer for your startup is the amount of work you want them to do, what other tasks you have (design, frontend, testing), and if you can manage a group of freelancers on your own.
We hope that our article has helped you to sort things out and make a well-considered decision. If you still have questions, contact us and tell us about your startup idea.
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