Why are Outsourced MVPs Impossible to Scale Up?

It’s common knowledge that most startups fail. There are several basic reasons for this:

  • Lack of market demand;
  • Lack of money;
  • Lack of competitiveness.

That’s why MVP is one of the first and foremost stages of any startup development. It’s like a litmus test that shows if the idea is in demand in the market at the moment. Also, it helps to save a considerable amount of time or money into it.

Trying to reduce risks, some startup owners lower the costs by outsourcing MVP. Such a solution has both its advantages and disadvantages, all of which may only be covered in a separate article. As for this one, let’s evaluate outsourcing in terms of MVP scalability.

Scalability – why is it important?

The answer to this question is very simple. Scalability is an integral feature and one of the primary objectives of any startup. Every startup strives for success, and success leads to growth. That’s why every startup owner should think about the scalability of their startup from the very beginning.

The importance of scalability is defined by your MVP aims. As you know, there are several types of MVP, deferring in an amount of effort and technical knowledge put into its development. Some of them need very little coding, others are operating apps or websites with minimal functionality.

If the primary objective of your startup is to test a hypothesis or to create new ideas, whereas the development of a full-featured application from scratch is less essential at the moment, scalability may be of less importance at this point.

In all other cases, scalability will be of great importance. Therefore, it’s necessary to bear in mind that the architecture and technology you use should be adaptable to changes. A special emphasis should also be placed on quality, which is the foundation of your project. If you don’t take quality assurance seriously, fast growth may lead to a complete failure.

Why are Outsourced MVPs Impossible to Scale Up?

To answer this question, it’s necessary to understand the essence of MVP development.

When it comes to MVP, almost all IT-vendors offer a “turnkey” solution with a fixed budget. The problem with this is that when trusting a vendor with developing a product, the client loses control over the product. If you don’t know how the product is built, you’ll never know for sure if it is high-quality or not.

The quality of a product is never a low priority. A low-quality product today results in extra expenses or even losses because of delays tomorrow. Startups opting for a “turnkey” solution face the following problems:

  • You don’t know who develops your product. IT-companies often promise that your project will be developed by senior developers. In fact, they often train their junior developers on such projects. So, instead of senior developers, your product is realized by junior developers, which influences the ultimate quality of your product.
  • Without feedback from technological experts, you can miss some simpler business problem solutions, which is important in a dynamic market.
  • At some point, you may need to scale the product. If your current vendor can’t do it, they’ll transfer the project to in-house developers. This will take a lot of time and will lead to performance loss.
  • Ignoring the previous point, you may face a situation when your vendor will have the majority of technical expertise. It will badly influence the attitude of investors, and with a lack of investment, scalability may be put at risk. Eventually, outsourcing can make the client dependent on their vendor. At the same time, it makes a change of vendor extremely difficult.

As a result, after a year’s work with an outsource company you run a high risk of going back to where you started, having a bad code, and having wasted a lot of money and nerves. It’s where you need to start all over again if your competitors haven’t already got ahead of you.

What is a way out?

First of all, you need to recognize that the core of the problem is the lack of control over your product. This involves control over the product components, terms, and technological control. That’s why you need to have at least a technical director on the staff, provided that you are the one who runs the project. Yet another thing is establishing an in-house team that will deal with the product throughout its life cycle.

There are many professional developers in the global IT-market who could strengthen your team and lower costs at the same time. The perfect way to lower costs is to use the hybrid model of cooperation with an IT-company. In this case, it’s the startup that has control over the product, inviting third-party developers as needed.

This model allows you to reduce both costs and time to market. It also brings flexibility as you can decide who should be working on the project at the moment. You may struggle to choose between a free-lance developer and a developer working for an IT-company.

It’s worth noting that the hybrid model of cooperation is only effective as long as there is a highly professional team led by an experienced project manager. If a team consists of newbies or a project manager who lacks experience, coordination, and communication issues will take up too much time. Besides, some problems with terms or the budget may arise. A newly established team can work productively and yield results in the short term only if there is no doubt about the high professionalism of all team members.

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