Today’s fast-moving market means it has never been more important to choose the right development team. A single problem – a blown deadline, a critical mistake, or a developer dropping out and having to be replaced – and your business goes from delivering market-leading features to playing catch-up to your nearest competitor.
Many of these mistakes are out of your hands – all you can do is put your trust in a developer who has the skills, experience, and reputation to suggest they will deliver on your project and enable you to meet your business goals and timelines. Despite this, many businesses rush the selection process when they should be investing their time and resources into making the correct hiring decision.
Upwork and DevSquad Overview
Two of the most popular choices when hiring a development team are Upwork and DevSquad. These two choices work very differently, but both can produce great outcomes when chosen for the right reasons:
Upwork is a global freelancing platform that connects businesses with millions of freelancers and remote teams. Businesses post projects and tasks on Upwork and then teams and individuals submit proposals, including quotes, for the work.
The business looks through the proposals, interviews suitable candidates, and then makes a hiring decision. Upwork does not do work itself but provides the platform and tools necessary to connect businesses with a wide range of agencies; these tools include escrow services, communications, time-tracking, and impartial mediation.
DevSquad is a fully-managed software development partner who provides ‘software development as a service.’ Businesses hire DevSquad on a monthly subscription model, only paying for the work they need and with no large deposit or commitment required upfront.
DevSquad uses small, agile teams of in-house developers. These developers are hand-picked from available staff to deliver the specific skills and experience the project requires. The emphasis is on agile methodology, short development cycles, and ongoing testing.
5 Things To Consider When Choosing a Development Team
Before examining the two options in any further detail, it is important to clarify what you are looking for in a development team. While each project will have specific requirements, you should also pay attention to the following general areas when assessing different development options:
Technical Skills – Look for a team with a depth of knowledge and experience in using the technology and coding languages necessary to solve your problem. A development team doesn’t need to know everything – they just need to be good with the tools needed for your project.
Methodology and Timelines – Teams using an Agile methodology will be able to deliver working prototypes faster than those using a waterfall method. How quick are their sprints and what will this mean for your project timeline?
Testing – Quick sprints are impossible without quick testing. How does the team approach bug-finding and how quickly can they correct mistakes? What support do they give if a problem is found after a sprint or project is finished?
Scalability – You won’t always need every member of the team working on your project - and sometimes you'll need more. How quickly can the team scale their services up or down?
Budget – How easy does the team’s payment model make it for you to control your budget? What project deliverables can they guarantee to meet within your budget?
Upwork vs. DevSquad – The Team
Teams on Upwork
It’s not hard to find a developer on Upwork – but it is hard to find the right one. When you upload a project, you’ll receive multiple applications from both individual freelancers and development teams (which Upwork calls ‘agencies’). Between them, you’ll see a wide variety of technical skills, languages, and price points, and the quality of service and work you receive will vary by team.
There are two main concerns when hiring a team on Upwork. The first is that most of these teams hire their staff on a freelance basis – not on a full-time contract. Individuals may drop out if other work comes up and will then need to be replaced with new freelancers, disrupting the work in progress.
The second concern is that many agencies grow from one freelancer who finds success and then hires others as their work grows. These teams can have many skilled developers but sometimes lack the project management skills necessary to take on larger, more complex projects.
Another worrying trend is that your work may not even be done by the team or individual that you select. It is not unheard of for middlemen to bid on projects and then re-list them, hiring someone else to do the work for a lower price and keeping the difference. This can also happen within agencies; an agency could swap out a mid-level team member for someone with less experience to save money – but you may not know about it.
The DevSquad Team
DevSquad is a team of experienced SaaS developers, all of whom are hired on a full-time basis and work together on multiple projects. Because they work together in-house, you know that communication, teamwork and the practical application of agile methodology is all easier than it is for a remote team. This means your business benefits from shorter development cycles and improved end-products.
When you start working with DevSquad, they custom design your team to suit the project, taking into account the experience and knowledge necessary to complete your project to a high standard. The selected developers are then split into multiple agile teams of between two and six people; precision teams with a narrow focus enable them to work faster than larger teams.
Upwork vs. DevSquad – Technical Experience & Skills
Upwork Experience & Skills
The Upwork platform brings together thousands of freelancers with a huge array of skills, with teams available to hire with expertise in every programming language under the sun.
One thing to watch out for is that the nature of Upwork’s bidding process can encourage teams to seek a broad, rather than deep skillset. By having a working knowledge of more coding languages, these teams are then able to successfully bid for a greater range of projects. This can mean teams lack that last 10% of expert knowledge necessary to get your project just right.
Although Upwork provides freelancers on their platform with skills tests with which to showcase their knowledge, these should normally be disregarded. Not only do the tests fail to mimic real-life work scenarios, but often the answers are available online after a quick search! Instead, businesses must focus on any links to completed work to gauge experience and skills.
DevSquad Technical Experience & Skills
Every member of DevSquad is a highly-experienced senior developer. They’ve passed strenuous selection requirements (DevSquad only hires the top 5% of developers who apply) and have a broad range of both technical and soft skills, including teamwork, project management, and testing.
DevSquad can both work as an independent team or slot straight into an existing development team when you need to scale rapidly.
Comparison 3 – Methodology & Process
The Upwork Process
There is no set methodology for development teams working on Upwork, with some still using Waterfall methodology, and others using Agile. With most of these teams working remotely, working to an Agile methodology is harder (although not impossible).
Different time zones, differences in culture, and larger response times make organizing regular face-to-face meetings harder, impacting both teamwork and productivity. These difficulties make strong leadership and management essential, without which there will be little benefit gained from their chosen methodology.
DevSquad Methodology & Process
DevSquad follows an agile Scrum method of software development, using short iterative sprints to deliver new versions of software every couple of weeks. Each sprint involves numerous improvements to features and finishes with a new, fully-working version of the software.
The advantage of this methodology is that you can have a working prototype out within weeks, instead of months. You can beat your competitors to market, receive feedback from customers faster, and see new features implemented quickly.
This methodology works best when teams are smaller and more agile, so even if you need 20 or 30 developers, DevSquad will split them down into smaller, more agile teams. It also requires extensive testing; the DevSquad team write automated tests to check the functions and find bugs in the software they are creating. This is a fast and efficient method of bug-testing, without which fast sprints would be impossible.
Upwork vs. DevSquad – References & Testimonials
Upwork provides tools for previous customers to leave a star-rating and short pieces of feedback on the agency’s work, but these can be misleading. The reviews are often anonymous, with no clear indication of who the client is or what the exact deliverable was, and feedback is rarely more than a few sentences.
This lack of context makes it impossible to gauge what their requirements were and how they fulfilled these requirements; what one client has given a 5-star review for, you may have only given 3-stars.
Additionally, since the overall agency rating is an average of its members, a decent score may mask the fact that some members of the team have delivered sub-par work.
DevSquad has worked with a wide range of businesses. Their recent clients include:
US SKI Team
US Ski and Snowboarding Organization is the national governing body for Skiing and Snowboarding within the US, managing 30,000 members and 450 clubs across eight sports. DevSquad came on board to help integrate multiple systems so they could manage members and sales more efficiently
“They’re very versatile. You’re really not getting an expert at just one thing; you’re getting an expert at development in general” – Jon Larson, IT Director, US SKI
Musicians Toolkit is a music education platform featuring world-leading professional musicians. They brought DevSquad onboard to build and maintain their web platform after having a poor experience with previous developers who underdelivered. The completed project connected learning management and course management systems to provide customers with a high-quality frontend experience.
“Initially we thought the project would take us at least six months, maybe eight, to get to the point where we can put it out in the market. DevSquad actually did it in three – they far exceeded our expectations both in the quality of the build and the time which it took” Stephen Henderson, VP of Product Marketing, Musician’s Toolkit.
Upwork vs. DevSquad – Cost & Payment
Cost of Hiring a Development Team on Upwork
Price points on Upwork vary tremendously, and you’ll likely see a huge difference between the cheapest and most expensive bids you receive on your project. Upwork allows you to post your job with either fixed-price or hourly pricing. When you ask for an hourly quote, you should expect to receive a time estimate in addition to the hourly cost.
Expect to see some bids reaching as low as $5 per hour and others to hit $100+ or higher. Realistically, anyone under $50 an hour is unlikely to have the experience necessary to work on your project, and many good developers will price themselves between $75 and $100 per hour, with some reaching $150 per hour.
You should also expect to pay an additional 2.75% fee to Upwork on your transaction if you post your job normally, or an additional 12.75% (plus a $500 fee) if you use the Upwork Pro option, which involves Upwork matching you with a curated set of premium freelances and teams.
DevSquad work on a 'software development as a service' model. This means that rather than a fixed fee for a project, customers pay an ongoing monthly subscription which they can cancel at any time. This gives businesses the opportunity to expand and contract their teams according to their budget and requirements and means they only pay for what they need.
This gives clients the financial flexibility to start a project without committing to a huge project fee or months and months of work. Clients are in complete control of the spending – clients can even purchase their services for just one month to test them out.
Your choice of development team will have a profound effect on the future of your business. It’s more than just a financial investment; you’re putting your business’s reputation and future in the hands of that team, relying on them to create the vital app, website or platform that will drive engagement and future sales.
Upwork and DevSquad cater to slightly different business needs. The vast choice, breadth of skills, and potential for low price points make Upwork popular with some businesses, but it also adds uncertainty. Sifting through applications on Upwork and interviewing multiple teams is many hours work, and it can take significant effort to find a team that meets your specifications. Even then, the drop-in-and-out nature of the freelancers who comprise these teams brings an element of risk to the partnership.
For businesses who can’t afford to fail, DevSquad is a more reliable choice. Their Agile methodology and focus on testing and delivering regular working software provides a faster route to market, while their ‘development-as-a-service’ pricing model reduces financial risk. Additionally, by employing a full-time group of in-house expert developers, DevSquad can offer the stability and teamwork that few Upwork agencies can match.