Development is typically seen as a vital yet stress-inducing process that most businesses dread. But, why is that? As both TopTal and DevSquad recognize, it is difficult to find qualified professionals who are able to not only deliver what you want, but help you figure out what you need.
However, there is no shortage of platforms out there that claim they'll help you locate talent. In this article, we'll compare these two top choices to help you decide which is better worth your time: TopTal or DevSquad?
The Options: TopTal and DevSquad
TopTal and DevSquad are two popular options for companies in need of professional developers, but are they both created equal? Read the following breakdown to better understand which option might fit your business the best.
Table of Contents
2. Things to Consider
3. Posting a Project
4. The Work Process
5.Communication and Support
TopTal's main pitch is their promise that only the "top 3% of freelance talent" makes it on to the developer end of their website. Of course, development is not all their freelancers do. They also offer services in the categories of finance, design, and project management.DevSquad, on the other hand, specializes in development. They also take a team approach, which gives your business instant access to a qualified team of professional developers, rather than struggling to assemble one yourself with a mix of freelance and in-house talent. This is one of the biggest advantages of DevSquad.Thus, the main difference between these platforms boils down to just that: TopTal attempts to provide the best "players" while DevSquad provides the best "teams". And, just as the saying goes, "Players win games, teams win championships." DevSquad is there for long-term collaboration and success.
2. Things to Consider
The platforms are by no means identical, but there are certain advantages and disadvantages of each that are worth looking further into.First and foremost, TopTal openly hires freelancers, with a button encouraging talent to apply right on the front page. DevSquad does not openly advertise applications and instead promises an elite, pre-assembled team.DevSquad's team-based approach is definitely one of the primary reasons why your business is likely to prefer it over TopTal.As explained on the website, "even if you need 30 developers, everyone working on your project is split into agile teams of 2-6 people. An expertly trained, battle-tested team can move more quickly and with more precision than larger teams..."When it comes to reputation, here's an overview of both platforms' top clients:
TopTal: TopTal lists the Cleveland Cavaliers, ConsumerAffairs, Artsy, and Rand McNally as some of their most well-known clients. They platform has been featured in CNBC, Bloomberg Business, and a few other publications.
DevSquad: DevSquad's range of clients includes the US Ski Team based in Salt Lake City, which is an Olympic sports organization supporting tens of thousands of skiers and snowboards. Musician's Toolkit, a venture-funding startup focusing on music education, also makes the list. The company has also been featured on Entrepreneur, The Next Web, and Programmable Web.
3. Starting a Project
The process to actually start a development project differs between each platform.
With TopTal, you'll be taken through a brief questionnaire that asks everything from what type of talent you need (i.e., developer, designer, etc.) to whether you want them full-time, part-time, or on an hourly basis. They'll also ask about your company's size, how long you'll need the developer, and how many developers you need.
There is no way to instantly get to work with either platform. In this step in the process for TopTal, you'll be asked to use your company email, company name, and your own name to signup. The next page will then ask for your phone number and Skype name and, later on, someone will reach out so that they can schedule a discussion with you.
DevSquad also uses a discussion to make sure your project's needs are understood, but they skip over the legwork and have a button on their site that allows you to easily schedule a call at a time that works for you. All of the relevant details of your company and project will be reviewed during the conversation.
In either case, following that phone call, someone working with the platform will help select the right talent.
However, this is where even more differences can be found between TopTal and DevSquad. While both platforms will match your project with talent, TopTal has you assemble your own team whereas the DevSquad professionals are already collaborating.
On TopTal, they will show you the "perfect match" based on what they learn about your project. You'll then add them to your "Team" (a collection of freelancers you've selected to work with) and try to keep everyone on the same page as the project progresses.
The TopTal platform's approach to freelance talent isn't new. While they save you the hassle of hand-selecting from a list of hundreds or even thousands of developers, the commitment and time involved in keeping track of your dispersed team can be a real headache--especially if you need more than 2-3 people working on your project.
That's the exact problem that DevSquad has worked to solve with their agile team model. Rather than assembling your own "team" of freelancers who have never met and likely never worked together before, DevSquad has professionals prepared and accustomed to collaborating with one another.
In fact, the DevSquad professionals are all in-house and can actually work sitting right next to each other. That's compared to the across-the-globe approach a TopTal assembly of freelancers would ave to take. This is instantly more efficient thanks to real-time, face-to-face, instant communication capabilities. No waiting on answers or dealing with timezone delays.
This makes a huge difference, especially when you begin working on larger projects taking upwards of 5, 10, or even 50 developers within a given timeframe. Their inter-communication and ability to work together is simply so much smoother and more effective than that of TopTal freelancers who are complete strangers to one another and unfamiliar with the other's processes.
4. The Work Process
That's one major flaw of TopTal: Even if you assemble a great team of talent, if they're all following a different process or approach, it can quickly turn into a mess. DevSquad consistently uses the Scrum approach, which is described as follows:
"It is a fast and iterative process. Your project will be broken into short development cycles (called “sprints”). Working closely with you, we monitor progress daily and, at the end of each sprint, you have new workable software."
The Scrum approach has been proven time and time again across multiple platforms, and that's why DevSquad uses it. Plus, with all of the workers on DevSquad being familiar with the approach inside-and-out, there's no worry of people getting behind or even too far ahead. Everyone's on the same page and truly collaborating to meet the next milestone.
Project milestones, of course, are well-established throughout the project's lifecycle, allowing not only the developers but also your own team to keep up with the progress. That means any in-house talent or management professionals that you do have will always be in the loop.
TopTal promises both overall quality and role-specific quality for every member that joins your team.Since they don't follow one set method because everyone is an independent freelancer, TopTal instead says that the freelancers can take time to adapt to the project management and collaboration tools your company prefers.Of course, that means selecting tools for the team to use and making sure they're common enough that the team members are already familiar with them so there is no learning curve.
While their professionals are accustomed to the collaboration and work processes, that doesn't mean they'll throw just anyone in to work on your project. In fact, each DevSquad developer has a different set of experiences and specializations to bring to the table, and those will be of serious consideration as DevSquad assembles your own custom team.
More than that, though, DevSquad works because of their efficient approach all-around. From the Scrum method to their standard practice of pairing developers for "normal tasks" so they can get it done in half the time. DevSquad makes it clear that there is one main goal: delivering what you need, before you need it.
It's also extremely valuable that the team goes through extensive testing throughout every phase of the project:
"To ensure quality code, we create automated tests that are written alongside your software. This checks your code is doing what it is supposed to be doing, and ensures bugs are spotted quickly and automatically."
The team is also constantly shipping code, which means you'll be operating on very short development cycles. No waiting 6 months (or more) to see your working software. Every week, you'll see new features as they are developed and you'll begin to see things come together in front of your eyes.
5. Communication and Support
"Our talent have proven experience in their functional areas and can convey complex concepts clearly to all stakeholders." That's TopTal's way of saying that they pre-vet every freelancer and make sure they can all speak, read, and write fluent English.
DevSquad does the same, but takes the levels of communication a step further. DevSquad isn't just about communicating, it's about collaborating:
"We are more than a team of developers, we are an extension of your business. We know you’re busy running your existing company (or companies) and don’t have time to babysit a development team. You don’t need to babysit us. In fact, we want you to COLLABORATE with us."
Being that the DevSquad teams come assembled for you and ready to work together smoothly, without your additional instruction or direction, the communication process is definitely made far simpler.
"Our developers do not simply follow instructions. They consult and build customized solutions and software systems to help businesses achieve the specific success and product development they are seeking."
You can even take advantage of the Project Rescue service, which is perfect if your previously-hired development team crumbled. Allow the DevSquad team of elite developers to take over and rescue your project. They'll pick up where the last team left off, re-doing what needs fixing and taking the project in the right direction.
But, what happens if something goes wrong?
Both platforms have excellent support that will help guide you through any development hurdles you may face. Whether there is a setback at your company, a hold-up in the project, or something else, the lines of communication are kept very open and it's easy to get things worked out.
TopTal charges a fixed price on a weekly basis depending on how often you say you need your freelancers. For instance, you can select hourly, part-time, or full-time hires. You can add/remove freelancers from your team and change their commitment levels with ease.
DevSquad works on a monthly subscription model instead, which is perfect for long-term development projects. Of course, you can pause your subscription at any point and you'll never pay for development that you don't need.
The whole point of the subscription-based approach is that it enables your company to avoid two things: big up-front costs and big up-front time commitments. It's also very flexible and scalable, allowing you to add developers to your team when you need to speed things up and even remove them when the workload decreases.
You will get a project estimate with DevSquad so that you can budget, but you will never be forced to commit to any certain number. Similarly, you'll be able to get an estimate of how long your project will take to complete based on a given number of developers.
Another thing to factor into the timeline, of course, is how far along your project is. If you need help with the initial planning and direction, that will factor into the overall turnaround of the finished project.
After getting the estimates, you can often expect early delivery thanks to DevSquad's efficient two-man approach. Plus, you can always add more developers to get things done sooner if your timeline changes or you need to push something out to market earlier than expected.
It's all a matter of figuring our your company's budget and then basing your decision on what will work best for you. With that said, there's still one thing everyone can agree on: Either platform is better than committing to a salary package for an in-house hire. That's why both platforms emphasize the flexibility of remote development.
Both TopTal and DevSquad have their advantages, but when it comes down to deciding between the two, some key differences will guide your decision.
If you just have a one-off project, TopTal is the way to go. Their simplistic approach that enables you to assemble your own team based on your needs and budget may be the perfect solution. If this is the case, take the questionnaire and schedule a call so that you can get the ball rolling quickly.
On the other hand, if you foresee multiple projects, DevSquad is definitely the solution for your long-term outlook. The main reason why is simple: DevSquad's agile team methodology makes collaboration simple and it will help your team become a real extension of your business, not just a haphazard assembly of freelancers.
With either platform, there is a certain scalability factor that will play in any startup's favor. You can shrink or grow your team as needed in a matter of days rather than months, weeks, or even years. This adaptability is vital to any startup or SMB within the volatile marketplace.
Of course, growth will be the key thing that DevSquad will actively help support in your business. As your DevSquad team begins to get to know your company and its direction better, you'll begin to feel like you have limitless resources at your fingertips. With that said, TopTal is more of a "use it when you need it" type of platform. It will feel much less connected to your company.
Keep all of that in mind as you compare these two solutions and decide which one is best for your growing startup.