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Updated: May 12

Looking to hire contract software developers? Get our tips on sourcing and hiring developers.


Maybe you’re looking to hire someone for a short-term assignment to ease your team’s workload. Or perhaps you’re looking to completely outsource a project and don’t know where to start.


Whatever your needs are, we’re happy to help you realize your project! Just take note that the advice in this article is not intended to take the place of legal counsel.

Determine the scope of the work to be completed.


Before you can even determine who to hire to help you, it’s important to realistically determine how much work needs to be completed.


If you overestimate the amount of work needed, then there’s a high probability you might hire too many developers. This, of course, means you’ll lose money because you’re paying for developers who either weren’t needed or weren’t used efficiently.

On the flip side, when the cost is a concern, it’s not uncommon to underestimate the number of hours or the size of the team that will be required for you to deliver on time. But lowballing the amount of work needed, however, can also be financially disastrous. If you miss deadlines or crunch your employees despite the added cost of hiring contract developers, it doesn’t look good.


Determine your hiring scope based on your needs.


The hiring solution you decide to use should be determined by the nature and amount of work still to be completed. There are multiple options at your disposal, and your CTO or project manager should be able to guide you to the most efficient solution.


Staff Augmentation


If your team is lacking a specific skill set or type of engineer to complete your project, then staff augmentation may be your best bet. Staff augmentation, in basic terms, means hiring a small number of contract software developers who work alongside and within your normal team.


Staff augmentation is most effective when you already possess an in-house development team led by a project manager.


Managed Team


A managed team is an excellent option when an additional pool of contract software developers are required to fulfill a project or meet specific deadlines. When hiring a managed team, you’re bringing in experts who operate under their own project manager and will work on their own projects or modules independent of your in-house team.


Managed teams are most effective when your in-house team needs dedicated specialists who can develop or construct a component of software your current developers are unable to complete or have fallen behind on.


Project Outsourcing


One of the most common forms of software development is project outsourcing, which is when you hire an independent team to develop the entirety of your software. Project outsourcing is the best option if your primary business is not software development or if the scope of your current project exceeds the timeline of deliverables your existing in-house team can meet. It also gives you the power to access a global workforce. However, it also tends to be the most expensive option.


Find a contract software developer.


Finding a contract software developer is not dissimilar to your process of onboarding a new employee: you’re looking for someone who shares your goals and your discipline and has a history that complements your work. While LinkedIn and Upwork are excellent resources, it helps to get referrals from other companies who have found themselves looking to fill needs like yours.

Therefore, after selecting around a half-dozen possible companies, take your time to vet their history. Some questions to ask include:

  1. Have they worked on projects similar in scale and scope to what you’re hiring them for?

  2. What technologies do they use, and how much experience does the team have with those technologies?

  3. What’s their software design and development process?

  4. How do they communicate (and how often) with their clients?

  5. Are their references pleased with their work?

  6. Were they able to deliver previous projects on time and at cost?

Establish an agreed-upon timeline for deliverables and maintain regular progress checks.


Delegating work to an individual or a team can often come with a feeling like you’re losing control. What you lose in the transparency of day-to-day oversight, you should optimally gain in efficiency since your team can be dedicated to the work they specialize in.


But not all is lost. A timeline that establishes the development of each stage of the project and scope of work will allow you to have your team’s architecture up, running, and ready to integrate your developer’s work at its most advantageous point. This timeline should also include regular reviews and approval of the work accomplished.


You should also begin utilizing project management software, like Jira, to monitor your development process.


Determine a development contract.


It’s almost time to sign the dotted line, but you have one more choice ahead of you: the type of development contract you and your freelance developer should enter into. You can choose among a fixed price contract, time and material contract, and a dedicated team contract.


Fixed Price (FP) Contract


A fixed-price contract is a flat fee you pay your freelance software developer to bring you a project that fulfills a certain number of features. The scope, budget, and schedule are all pre-determined.


This is an excellent approach to take when delivering a minimum viable product (MVP), which requires limited functionality to prove that you can develop your initial idea or pitch.


Time and Materials (T&M) Contract


Unlike the FP contract, the Time and Materials contract is a straightforward agreement where you will pay your contract software developer for the time and the materials they use. This is another excellent approach towards getting an MVP to market, especially when the project requires adaptation and adjustment beyond the initial vision.


The downside to the T&M contract is that, without a fixed price, the cost of a T&M project may exceed original estimates, especially as new features are introduced or the marketplace changes.


Development Team (DT) Contract

Like the T&M contract, a Development Team contract involves paying your software developer directly in accordance with how much work they do. However, a DT model works by agreeing on a fixed, budgeted amount over a period of time (usually monthly) in exchange for a fixed amount of hours worked. A DT contract is an excellent choice to help you forecast your contact and project expenditures.

A DT contract is useful for larger organizations working on adding existing features to existing platforms or pursuing long-term projects that can evolve in scope or purpose.


Manage your invoices and payments with Liquid.


If you’ve hired a contract software developer or development team, Liquid is the easy way to manage your engagements. Liquid helps you mitigate compliance risk with freelancers and vendors while saving you time and money. Onboarding a new contract software developer or development team takes less than a minute and comes complete with standard and customizable Independent Contractor Agreements, including the Confidential Information and Inventions Assignment Agreement (or NDA). Specify tasks and deliverables with the Work Order feature and avoid duplicate billing errors or overbilling with Work Order to Invoice Matching. And with Liquid’s ability to send payments to 175+ countries, you can work with software developers around the world.

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6 Tips for Hiring and Managing Contract Software Developers

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