Reacting to the Software Skills Gap

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Reacting to the Software Skills Gap
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The cost of software developers over the past year has risen in an unprecedented way. The market has changed quickly over the past year, going from heavy lay offs and furloughs, to now where there are plenty of jobs and not enough people to fill them.

Part One

Part TWO

Part THREE

Part FOUR

At the time of writing, the average software developer salary is at £62,500 (1), with more senior roles now often exceeding 6 figures.

Another factor in the rising costs is the shift to remote working - and for developers in particular, this seems to largely be the preferred way of working. With location no longer being a barrier to hiring good talent, it has resulted in many companies needing to improve their salaries to match those of the employers in large cities such as London.

This change in the market has led to soaring salary costs, an increase in headhunting, and people deciding to look for their next move to take advantage of the candidate-first landscape.

it’s crucial for companies to continue to deliver on projects and keep momentum in their software development capability

Of course, internally, it’s crucial for companies to continue to deliver on projects and keep momentum in their software development capability. Indeed - this is almost more important than ever as in the post-pandemic world companies are being required to remain agile, innovative, and technology-forward (which is also a cause of the increased demand for developers).

Keep on delivering

One of the best ways to be able to keep delivering is to consider how you might lean on a good agency partner to augment your core teams. This can help to build capacity into places as and when you need it. Great agency support can help you to deliver projects and keep momentum, without worrying about the issues that recruitment brings.

Of course, we here at Fluff know the benefits that agencies bring about to those companies they work with, but let’s look at some of the ways that you can ensure that you get good results.

Getting the right fit

Chemistry is an often overlooked part of finding a company to work with.

It’s fair to say that there is a lot of “noise” out there from the hundreds of available companies trying to push their services. The problem with this as a potential client is that it can be hard to know exactly which are the great ones amongst the rest. A few good ways to help find the ones which will be best for you is to either ask your network for recommendations, or get specific with your searching and speak to a few of them. We’ve also got a more detailed breakdown of how to find a good agency here.

Chemistry is an often overlooked part of finding a company to work with. We so often choose based on which are cheapest, or have the biggest team - and while these should certainly factor into your decision, finding an agency that you can work well with is by far the most important part.

Agile is more important than ever to adopt, and a good agency will help you to find the best solutions, work to understand your business to help create ideas, and implement things quickly. This is essential in today’s world - and by augmenting internal teams with these types of partners, you’ll quickly see a good injection of energy and output.

you’ll quickly see a good injection of energy and output

Pricing models

Just as with finding the right agency to work with, it’s also important to consider how you might want to purchase services from them. In general, there are two types of models - fixed monthly costs (”retainer”), and per-project costs.

Fixed costs guarantee you access to a certain amount of hours worth of development time per month, for a fixed cost. This can be a great stepping stone in helping to plug some of the gap left by a reduced team, or to help with building extra capacity. One big benefit of this over hiring a team member is that the associated time and money costs are often a lot lower - you won’t need to factor in national insurance, a redundancy pot, and training time. Instead, you have instant access to skills, that you can wind down at any point without issue.

Project costing is where an agency will quote for a specific piece of work. This can be really useful when you have a specific piece of work to get completed, but don’t have the resource to deliver it. It also works well when you need to prove the investment required to get a large project across the line - by having an external resource create a “proof of concept” for a fixed quoted cost, you’ll be able to investigate the results required to unlock further budget for the full project.

Tech skills and scaling up

The nature of agency work means that skills need to be kept extra sharp in order to truly be able to help companies that they work with. In our experience, agencies tend to bring about more skilled resources for less cost, and they also come with the infrastructure and support to get the most out of them. Teams quickly come together within an agency to solve problems for you, and also have access to a wider network of developers that they can call on when needed.

Teams quickly come together within an agency to solve problems for you.

This is especially important when you’re scaling up a project or trying to ensure that it is built for scale in the future.

Thinking longer term

One of the other benefits of having access to cutting-edge skills is that it can be a great way to up-skill your internal team for the long term. Not all agencies work in this way, but many will be able to help to share skills and best-practice with your team. Indeed, we’ve seen many projects work very well in this way, where an external partner is brought in to create a new system, or revamp an existing one - and then switch focus to help the existing internal team to be able to develop it further in the future.

As you continue to develop your core platform, products, or systems, you’ll be able to more comfortably build a longer-term internal team. Once you’re at this point, it can still be useful to retain access to an agency to help ensure that you can be resilient to future market changes. It’s a creative way to explore new technologies, provide “burst” capacity when you need it, and getting further help with best practice and consultancy.

  1. As seen on https://www.totaljobs.com/salary-checker

Written by

Scott Gulliver

Scott Gulliver is the Director of Fluff Software, a software development company based in the South West of England. Scott has been helping large companies to implement software and technology, with a particular focus on digital transformation over the past decade.

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