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Should Companies Hire a Design Agency or Build an In-House Team?

October 03, 2019

Deciding between an in-house team or a design agency can be a challenging choice for businesses. Make sure you consider length, price, and your vision of the project before choosing so that you can maximize the success of your design. 

When you're beginning a technical upgrade project for your SaaS product, there are various factors to consider. 

To start with, you're most likely to weigh your options regarding outsourcing the project to a design agency or building an in-house team. 

Let's analyze all possibilities, lay out the results for you to see, and make an informed decision.

How to Decide Whether to Hire an In-House Team or Outside Design Agency

  1. Consider the budget
  2. Factor in experience
  3. Calculate the duration of the project
  4. Estimate the project's flexibility 

Consider the Budget

For any organization big or small, finances are at the forefront of the decision-making process. 

So, to decide whether to outsource your UI and UX needs or hire an in-house team, you have to compare the costs incurred for either option. The latest estimates reveal that hiring an in-house UX designer will cost approximately $96,000 per annum (as of 2018). 

Furthermore, the design team would include a number of UX strategists, UI designers, and developers depending on what your project needs. 

Compensation for designers would vary based on their work experience and location.
 
On the other hand, outsourcing your project to a UX design agency could be more cost-effective and efficient, especially for smaller projects. For example, getting a UX audit of your existing system does not mean you need to hire a full in-house team. 

However, larger and more time-consuming projects like an entire UX overhaul or a legacy system migration could go on for 2-3 years. It might be better then, to hire people who can be integrated into your business for that period of time. 

Requirements like these should be analyzed in terms of costs incurred and the expertise required to come to the right decision. 

Design agencies tend to have flexible billing options in terms of hourly rates to monthly plans. These are usually customized to suit clients' requirements.

Evaluate your project’s needs before hiring an in-house team or outsourcing to another agency. 

Factor in the Experience

As with any creative profession, expertise and experience come at a premium price tag. 

Hiring an in-house team can be a time-consuming effort in terms of screening applicants, conducting screening tests and interviews, and rolling out job offers. 

It makes sense for bigger companies with long-term tech expansion plans to conduct this exercise and nurture home-grown talent. 

Smaller firms with limited resources and less intensive projects should consider a UX design agency to gain the best results.

Still, larger companies with in-house design teams sometimes choose to collaborate with experienced design firms to resolve complex issues. 

What matters here is the work experience of the designers hired in-house as well as those employed in the agency.

Design plans
 
Those with a few good years of work behind them bring a lot to the table. 

Experienced designers, with their acquired skills, can help complete projects in a timely manner, without overrunning the budget. 

However, these complex projects may cost a lot of money, which means you want to hire the best team for the least amount of money. 

Make sure to hire well-experienced designers from design firms who can work effortlessly with your own team.

Calculate the Duration of the Project

The time span of the project refers to the estimated period of completion, which is a defining factor for most long-term projects. 

In such cases, what works best is to set up an in-house team, even though recruiting and team-building can be a long process. 

While it is true that doing so may delay your project take-off, your company will gain a great design team who is at your beck and call for all future projects.
 
Conversely, an established UX agency already has a definite workflow set up that lets them analyze and proceed with your projects without stopping and respond with impressive turn-around time. 

Koru UX Design Agency Offers

The time span of the project is a crucial deciding factor when it comes to making a choice between hiring or building a UX design team.

Estimate the Project’s Flexibility

It's fairly evident that an in-house team comes with increased flexibility in regard to the project flow. 

An in-house team is an integral part of the company which has to align with and fulfill company goals quickly and efficiently. 

Another factor to consider is that the internal team may remain fairly constant regardless of the workflow fluctuations.
 
While outsourcing projects to a design firm, there may be the obvious hurdles of added documentation, consulting, and permission seeking for any changes in the project. 

However, experienced agencies tend to know about any blips that might arise in the creative process and know how to deal with these problems efficiently. 

Some agencies are in the practice of conducting consultations by the hour and charging them in order to keep the entire process accountable, agile, and flexible.

Evaluate and Choose the Best Solution for Your Project

Large conglomerates tend to focus on developing their own in-house teams, as it helps their long-term goals. 

However, this is a decision that tends to disrupt their short-term objectives because of the time it takes to hire and train the team. 
 
As such, larger businesses can decide to recruit an in-house team and also hire an external design agency for initial collaboration. Once the internal team gains experience, the third-party design agency is no longer needed. 

In using this method, the organization manages to execute both current and future projects with the same level of expertise no matter when the in-house team begins. 

While this blended option ends up being more expensive, it is a worthwhile exercise for most businesses.
 
Eventually, choosing to develop an internal design team or outsourcing the project is determined by the scope of your project, its budget, and the company’s timeline. 

However, the factors listed here should help you in the decision-making process. Learn more by going through our e-book that helps you pick the right UX agency.