Digital Development Agency Vs Internal Web Team – A view from the trenches

LogicSpot is the first time I have worked for an agency doing web development, in all of my past roles I have worked as an internal resource. As you’d expect there are some massive differences to working for an agency or internally, and hopefully this blog will outline them.

Development Process

When working internally, there may be a set process or methodology, but it is rarely used. The main reason is that you are ‘in the building’ meaning people can (and will) walk up and demand a feature or update as a priority. It’s not a problem if the web team have good time management skills, and can communicate when the request is likely to be completed.

For an agency, there are procedures in place, not only for development and scheduling in work, but for reporting on a project’s progress and discussing ideas. It means that there is very little interruption on a task. In an agency, there is also more resources available, in terms of supporting staff, knowledge and software, which can improve the quality and speed of project deliverables.

Quality of Development

There is a huge temptation to just ‘get things done’ when working internally for a company. As an ‘always’ available resource, it is possible to rectify problems as they occur, rather than making sure the issue doesn’t occur in the first place. Similarly, it is easier to make an application that meets the bare minimum requirements, without having fail-safes and automation where possible, which would allow someone ‘non-technical’ to use it.

In an agency, any project that is handed over to the client has accompanying training, and has been fully tested. The optimisation of that code, and the user flow has to be of a high standard. The code won’t need to be fixed every couple of weeks, or needs completely rewriting because it wasn’t built to a scalable standard. Doing things correctly and to the highest standards first time out means that there are no negative impacts on the client experience or the agencies resources.

Business Benefit

The previous two sections have discussed a few differences from the point of view of developer. However, more relevant to non-developers may be the differences in the benefits to the client/employer.

Having an internal team of developers is a massive resource to have if it is possible. It provides a lot of skill, right at the heart of the business, which can push for changes and development where it is needed. It can also suggest future development without any direct initiation from business managers.

Working with an agency to produce your web projects, in my opinion, has one key difference to having an internal team. And that is the people. With an agency, you have access to a huge amount of very specialised resources, people who have made an active choice to take one aspect of the web and make it their own.

They also have a massive amount of experience implementing ideas for other companies, and it is always worth finding an agency that has done work within your sector. They can help advise and guide you through the process, prioritise your development and give insight into future possible developments.

Conclusion

There are a lot of good things to be said about internal development teams. However, from my experience, these only work well if the team is large enough, which isn’t always possible or realistic. Even then, it relies massively on having a proactive and skilled team.

For most projects an agency will produce a high quality and reliable end product, and be able to scale and grow with the needs of the client. An agency will also be able to advice on current trends and future developments, and be able to offer services that integrate with the business model, including SEO, web and email marketing, business analytics and development, and specialised hosting.