Is hiring an in-house web developer the best choice?

A while back, I stumbled across a job posting seeking a "32 hour a week" web developer.  What caught my eye was the posting had been open for over six months.  It was easy to see why! 

The company was looking for a digital marketing assistant with strong web development skills, graphic design background, and the ability to take over the copywriting and manage social networks.

In all fairness, they were just trying to fill a need within a budget, but perhaps they should have considered out-sourcing some of those duties to a web development agency.

Outsourcing web development for a website redesign is common.  But, did you know that agencies are great choices for post-launch activities?  They can shoulder the burden by taking over tasks like website maintenance, social networking, graphic design, content creation and content updates. 

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Before you spend six months finding the right person, read the 8 questions to consider before hiring in-house.

 

#1 - Is this a newly created position? 

 

You should be cautious if this is a new role in the company – especially when the budget is a concern.  You may pay a premium salary to fill the position of "web developer" only to find the bulk of work is updating content or off-topic marketing activities.   Eventually, this kind of work takes up 100% of your employee's time, and you will still have the expense of outsourcing some of your web development. 

 

#2 - Is the workload consistent from day to day? 

 

You should consider how your digital marketing needs change throughout the year.  Perhaps you are busier during the holidays, have quarterly promotions, or need to promote large company events.  Eventually, your in-house resource will be working at 100% capacity and may not be able to deal with one-off jobs without pushing other duties aside.   Web development agencies are an excellent choice in this scenario since they can more easily ramp up or ramp down according to need.

 

#3 - Do you need more than coding? 

 

An in-house developer will rarely have the range of knowledge you can find with a full-service agency.  Consider all digital marketing requirements as you recruit for the position and compare the cost to hire the talent(s) in-house vs. outsourcing.  An agency will have the expertise and resources to provide both development and post-launch support.  Post launch support can include everything from social networking, search engine optimization, website audits, server administration, and HTML emails.

 

#4 - Do you need someone with the latest skill sets

 

No one can argue web technology evolves at lightning speed.  Even great employees find it tough to keep up.   It’s hard to carve out time to keep on top of the technology while keeping up with the workload.    A busy agency can keep pace because they are working on a variety of different projects every day and continuing education is necessary to remain competitive.

 

#5 – Do you have the budget to hire the person or team you need? 

 

Sometimes, management compares the expense of an outsourced web development agency to a salaried employee and questions if they should move their web development in-house.   Before making this decision, you should first evaluate if you can realistically find one person with the skills, experience, and education of a full-service agency team.   You will probably need at least two people to make sure you have a team with solid qualifications in many areas of expertise.    Be sure to consider the expense of employee benefits (i.e., vacation pay, maternity leave, sick days, tax costs, retirement, health insurance, pay raises, etc.) when comparing the salary versus agency expense.

 

#6 - Does the hiring manager have experience managing this role?  

 

Does anyone in your company have experience managing this position?  If the answer is "no", you need to be particularly careful about recruiting the right person and managing your expectations.  Often, those with no experience in a particular role either overestimate or underestimate the skills required.  Being over or under-utilized is a problem for both the employee and the management.

 

#7 - What will you do if your new hire doesn't work out? 

 

Hiring an agency can be less risky than hiring a permanent employee; this is especially true if it is your first time at outsourcing or hiring for in-house web development work.  If you're not satisfied with the work performed by an agency, it's usually much easier to rectify and, if necessary, terminate the vendor relationship than it is to "fix" or terminate an employee.  

 

#8 - Should you consider the best of both worlds? 

 

There are advantages to hiring a salaried employee for your digital marketing efforts.  There are advantages to outsourcing as well.  Take the time to define your needs and be reasonable about which tasks need full-time attention and which tasks only need part-time focus.  You might be pleasantly surprised to find you can have the best of both worlds by hiring the right person for your in-house activities and outsourcing appropriately to an agency – without breaking your budget.

These are just a few of many factors to consider before hiring an in-house web developer.  If you're still weighing out the pros and cons of hiring internally versus outsourcing to an agency, give WebMistress.com a call.  We'll review your needs and objectives and provide recommendations to help you reach your web development and digital marketing goals.

 

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