Medical Software Development Outsourcing: Why the Managed Project Model is Superior to Hiring Individual Contractors

You’ve decided to use external resources to accelerate your medical software development project.  The next decision in software development outsourcing is whether to use the Managed Project model, or hire individual contractors.

First, allow me to define what’s meant by a “Managed Project”.  In this model, an external software engineering firm provides a team, which includes a contributing engineer who also acts as project manager.  Specific modules (or perhaps the entire development efforts) are assigned to the team.  All day-to-day management is handled within the team.  Progress is reported to you on a weekly basis.

Which one do you choose?  I believe the Managed Project model is a far superior choice for most projects.  Now, you may think my perspective is biased.  I understand, but please read on.  I’ll present some compelling, objective reasons to support my claim.

A Ready-made Team = Instant Start and Quicker Finish

One of the primary benefits of Manged Projects is that you’ll have a project-ready engineering team from day one.  The team members provided by an experienced medical software development company have worked together for several years.  There’s no “getting to know each other” period, nor time lost working out skill distribution and roles.  All the infrastructure is in place (computers, development tools, process, backup systems, reporting).  In my 15 years at Syncro Medical, I’ve seen it time and time again, our teams are ready to go right out of the gate – resulting in a quicker finish and faster time-to-market than any set of individual contractors could offer.

Technical Experts Readily Available

The right medical software engineering company will also have technical experts available in several areas.  Although an expert may not by specifically assigned to your project, the team can easily tap him/her when needed.  In my experience, Syncro’s experts are frequently brought in to avert project bottlenecks – solving architecture issues, applying advanced tools, or sharing their knowledge of a particular development environment.  By contrast, when using an individual contractor model, you’ll need to find the expert, and hope that s/he is available on an as-needed basis.  How do you engage an expert for a short time?  Sometimes expert questions only take an hour or two.

No “Hiring” Process Needed

Implicit in the ‘instant start’ benefit discussed above is the fact that you don’t have to deal with the hiring process.  The Managed Project model eliminates the need entirely.

Not so with the individual contractor approach.  Even when using a contractor placement firm (a so-called “body shop”), you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time interviewing and hiring contractors, trying to ensure that you’ll have the right mix of skills for the project.  And, when the inevitable one out of every three or four contractors doesn’t work out, not only are you back to the interviewing/hiring time drain, but you’re now falling further behind.

Hiring is even more complicated for projects that’ll require technology which may be new to your firm.  For example, we were recently engaged to develop a mobile medical application for a client that was completely new to this space.  Imagine if they had to go through the interviewing and hiring process not knowing the right questions to ask or what to look for in their developers.  The client had ruled out the individual contractor option because they knew they could rely on us to supply the right staff, and also to educate them throughout the process.

Much Less Management Bandwidth Needed

Because project management is an integral part of the Managed Project offering, all of the detailed day-to-day oversight of the project is handled for you.  You’ll receive regular progress reports (my firm reports to clients on a weekly basis), ensuring complete knowledge and control of the project.  The net result is that the Managed Project approach better leverages your time.  Certainly, time spent balancing workload, checking work and answering questions for individual contractors can be better used on more value-added tasks.

Knowledge Doesn’t Vanish After Project Ends

One benefit both models offer is that you can easily reduce the staff to zero once the medical software development project is finished – no trailing costs.  That’s where the similarity ends.

When a given project ends, an individual contractor moves on to his/her next client.  Once they’ve moved on, it’s typically very difficult to re-engage them for post-release trouble-shooting, or for subsequent work.

The Managed Project approach, on the other hand, offers much better continuity and retained knowledge when it comes time for post-release support.  A Managed Project firm like Syncro Medical can make their team members available as needed.  And when the time comes for a new release, or a subsequent development effort, the knowledge has remained within the team for months or even years, at no cost to you.


Takeaway: Medical Software Development Outsourcing – Why the Managed Project Model is Superior

Undoubtedly, there may become circumstances where individual contractors are a viable option (such as for specialized consultation).  However, I hope that after reading this article, you’ll agree with me that the Managed Project model is far superior for most situations.

Because you’ll have a much quicker start, the project will finish that much sooner.  You’ll avoid all of the complications and costs of hiring and day-to-day management.  Plus, your investment in the Managed Project relationship will pay off in the long run in terms of continuity and retained knowledge.  Clearly, the Managed Project option is the best choice for outsourcing medical software development.

Patrick Carr is President and CEO of Syncro Medical, a software engineering firm serving medical product manufacturers. Pat brings a wide range of experience from his prior management roles in medical technology companies. During his nearly 15 years with Syncro, Pat has focused on optimizing both sides of the equation: creating a stable, attractive environment for elite engineering talent, and delivering top-quality results to clients. Pat is a strong proponent of the mutual benefits of developing long-term client relationships. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School. Outside of the office, Pat is president of an open space preservation organization. He also serves as a volunteer on various boards in the historic borough where he and his wife reside.

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