It’s a crossroads that many product teams come to: hire a developer or outsource software development? This issue is magnified when you’re not just looking to fill one role but need a whole team to help deliver a critical project.
We’ve compared before hiring in-house developers versus outsourcing versus getting in an independent contractor. In this post, we’re going to dig a little deeper into some of the trends we are seeing in the embedded software industry around growing teams to meet increasing embedded system demands.
Software outsourcing trends we’re noticing
Ranging across talent acquisition to scaling teams, here are five trends we’re noticing within the embedded software space.
1. Embedded software demands are increasing globally
Embedded systems and the software (including firmware and bootloaders) that controls them are multiplying. From washing machines to heart monitors, to watches, to bikes, to cars—embedded is everywhere, and demand is only growing as AI and connectivity are added to more and more products. The increased pressure from continued investment in Internet-of-Things (IoT) across all markets means that by 2025, the global system market will have grown from USD 86.5 Billion in 2020 to USD 116.2 Billion.
We’re seeing clients come to us with a variety of new and innovative ways that they want to apply embedded systems to products. The sheer volume of innovation that’s happening across different sectors right now means that keeping up with the necessary software engineering techniques to go with these systems is also high.
If you also consider the continued upwards trend in investment in R&D, this creates significant pressure on existing in-house teams and on product teams who don’t have low level embedded experience. All of this creates a high demand for embedded software engineers around the world.
(This leads to our next trend.)
2. It’s still hard to recruit for the right skills and experience
Even with the growing demand, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that, across the globe, there is a shortage of experienced software developers and engineers.
State of the industry reports for tech indicate that there are many tech roles available, but not enough people with the right experience and skills to fill them. Whether it’s 52% of UK digital businesses reporting they find roles hard to fill (link opens PDF), or in the US where 87% of tech leaders are finding it hard to find the right people for the right jobs.
Difficulty finding the right people for roles is unsurprising when you consider that 66.4% of professional developers have been coding professionally for nine years or less.
In embedded systems and software, things get even worse with mainstay languages like Assembly, C and C++ being some of the most dreaded languages around. These are languages that developers would like to discontinue using.
So, it’s no surprise that businesses increasingly look to outsourced software development teams to get the software development talent they need for new and existing products. Global IT outsourcing worldwide is expected to reach $397.6 billion (USD) by 2025.
3. Growing requirement for established and value-driven processes
Most companies we talk to have clear financial drivers. But several companies we’ve spoken with over the past few years have emphasised that when looking for the right resourcing option, it’s essential they pick suppliers with established processes for delivering quality software.
Product owners and project managers also want to know that they are working with a partner who will be able to integrate into their team and provide value from day one. When hiring a new embedded software engineer, it might take weeks or months for them to adjust to unfamiliar software development processes. If you’re building a team of independent contractors, the problems get even harder, with everyone used to a different style of working. Even if everyone operates in an “Agile” way, they could all be talking about different flavours of Agile. The time spent in waiting for processes to align and form can cost valuable time and money to a project, delaying software release times, and potentially creating a negative impact on quality.
By bringing in an established team, that is used to working together, there is the confidence that they already have established processes in place for delivering quality software. For example, at Bluefruit, we have spent years building and providing internal training around our Lean-Agile practices and things we know will add project value and improve quality such as Test-Driven Development and Behaviour-Driven Development.
We also believe in complete transparency. So, our clients not only benefit from the processes, they have a chance to learn from them. For many of them, our work goes beyond just delivering code, and we also provide training to their in-house teams on how to run Lean-Agile projects.
4. Distance is no longer an issue
Barriers to long-distance working, with remote teams and individuals, have had to be torn down in 2020. Everyone can be a Teams or Zoom call away—and meeting times are naturally getting shorter as a result.
Previously, one of the biggest reasons we’ve heard why project teams wanted solely in-house talent working on their projects, was because they didn’t believe people working outside their business could provide the same level of dedication and service needed. Or that external teams wouldn’t “get” the product because they were just not immersed as part of a team.
But we’ve proven over the past 20 years, for a whole host of clients, that isn’t the case. We’ve been remotely working with client product teams for years. We’ve even been remotely collaborating with other suppliers, bringing high-quality software development and testing, and compliance to clients with medical device projects.
Even before COVID hit, we had tools in place that allows clients to see their project progression to a high level of detail. They can track the development progress and our two-week software delivery times means clients always feel in control of their project and their spend, no matter where they are in the world.
5. Outsourcing as a way of scaling or supporting internal development teams
The most significant trend (and benefit) Bluefruit Software sees is that working with outsourced teams can help internal teams scale.
If you are a company who has several products and require fulltime ongoing software development and testing, external software suppliers might not be the right option for completely replacing a dedicated in-house resource. However, at times that team might need to scale or add additional expertise to deliver for a specific project requirement.
We’ve found that outsourced teams can naturally fit and flex with project requirements, ensuring that the right team size and experience for different project stages. That leaves you without the risk and worries of building up a team internally that then, at some point will need to scale back down, move elsewhere, or suddenly grow again (because hiring, even internally, is tough).
Also, you get the best of both worlds when you have outsourced software experts who are hardwired to ensuring that anyone can take on a project (hello, habitable code that underpins conceptual integrity). Meaning you’ll have a project that can be taken on by internal and/or external tech teams as needed.
Whether you’re a startup that’s still growing, or an R&D department, or an established business looking to innovate or pivot—working with outsourced specialists can provide a huge benefit, giving you the flexibility to scale as needed and the ability to bring in particular skills for short term problem-solving.
Fit and flex
Outsourcing isn’t without risks (it depends on whom you work with), but companies like Bluefruit have processes in place to ensure that our clients can benefit not only from our expertise but our continuity of service as well.
Check out some of our case studies below if you’d like to know how we’ve helped other project teams with their embedded software needs.
Are you looking for embedded software specialists?
For the past 20 years, we’ve been providing quality software development, testing services and consulting to a host of clients, across a range of industries. From firmware to user interfaces, we have the right team for you. So, why not book a call and find out how we can help you with your latest project?