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Hiring External Embedded Engineers: In-House vs. Offshore

Embedded Engineers

If you are considering hiring embedded engineers for growing your business, there are mainly two options to consider. The first one is to hire an in-house team for a permanent contract. The second one is to find an external team, which means outsourcing. Both of those opportunities have their pros and cons, and the choice depends hugely on what your business goals are. But before we dwell on that, let’s start with why a company might need an embedded developer in the first place. In this article, you can learn more about the pros and cons of hiring external embedded engineers.

What is an Embedded Developer?

An embedded developer is a specialist that writes code for embedded systems, which are machines and devices that are not regarded as computers. The main goal is to provide an algorithm for self-standing work for such devices. What are these systems? Well, it can be anything small like a microcontroller or massive as warehouse machinery. Embedded development is necessary for aviation, electronics, medical science, and the automotive industry. From self-driving cars to smart homes – embedded engineers can power it up.

One of the main contributors to the popularity of embedded development is the rise of the Internet of Things. It is all about connected and smart devices that make our lives easier. The growing demand for high-quality specialists makes it hard sometimes to find an in-house team. There might not be people you are looking for in your area. Or they can be devoted to another company and its project. It is not surprising that outsourcing’s global market size has reached $85.6 billion and continues to grow.

What Skills Should You Look for?

There are many ways to grow a business, and incorporating a high-quality development team is one of them. Such professionals can provide new opportunities in terms of developing new products or updating the existing ones. They can enhance user experience and optimize the production cycle and internal procedures. An embedded developer is a high-profile specialist that has several essential skills, such as:

  • Excellent knowledge of coding languages, mostly C, C++, and Assembly. However, it depends on the particular project. Other often required programming languages are ADA, Python, or Lua;
  • Good understanding of the hardware they are going to work with;
  • Experience with various memory storing and processing solutions, like ROM, RAM, or Flash;
  • Experience with microcontrollers and microprocessors and their ecosystems;
  • IoT devices and specific cloud solution, for example, AWS, Azure, IBM, or Google Cloud;
  • Processing data and analysis, etc.
What Skills Should You Look for?

Of course, the particular skill set you are looking for is based on the project. It is crucial to test the hard and soft skills of embedded engineers before hiring them.

In-House and Offshore Embedded Development: Comparison

Let’s start with the option of offshore embedded development. It has significant advantages, such as:

  • Cost reduction. It is one of the main benefits, especially for mid-sized and small businesses. It is not a secret that the salaries for specialists vary from country to country. In the picture, you can see the average annual salaries for engineers in different countries. Hiring an offshore team can significantly reduce the project’s costs, especially if you compare the prices of having permanent employees, which adds up payment for healthcare insurance and other benefits. Financial benefits are crucial as powering an IoT device with excellent software is more costly than simple website creation.
In-House and Offshore Embedded Development: Comparison
  • Access to a broader talent pool. Finding a needed specialist isn’t always accessible in the same area, and they might also be already booked. With offshore embedded engineers, you can get a high-profile specialist right on board with your project.
  • Teams you hire remotely are usually already built and have experience working together. There is no need to spend time on onboarding, education, and preparation. These are often professionals that can tackle any project. And you can afford the best specialists as it is limited contract cooperation.
  • Offshore teams are easily scalable. You can add or reduce the number of employees at any stage of the project. It allows for releasing products faster.
  • You can concentrate on the core part of your business, while software development is taking place. It helps to manage the processes simultaneously and be more effective.

Outsourcing Risks

However, some risks might occur with outsourcing, for example, quality control. It is necessary to establish a very particular routine in this regard. There can also be some logistics or language inconveniences if you work with a very distant team. An embedded developer probably will need to have first-hand experience with the device or machinery. So the team should be able to travel to your location or have the device shipped to them.

Another consideration to take care of is security. Make sure that your contact is bullet-proof when it comes to services provided and to maintaining sensitive information. Also, establish security procedures of several levels to ensure that there is no possibility of a data breach.

Now, let’s name the benefits of having an in-house team.

  • First of all, these are full-time employees invested not only in the project but also in your company. They are interested in further cooperation, which increases internal motivation. They also have a better knowledge of your corporate culture and values and have some emotional connection to their place of work.
  • It allows building the team of your dreams. You can find the specialists that suit your business values and engage in internal procedures. Yes, it is a long and sometimes daunting process, but its employees make the company.
  • In-house embedded developers are easier to manage and access. These are people that are sitting next to you in the same office. It means that you can hold meetings at any time or talk with each member of the team on specific issues or concerns. It is a matter of convenience and relevancy – if you want to make rapid changes in the project scope, it will be much simpler. And you have full control over everyone.
  • There is a lesser security risk. Of course, data breaches can happen in any case. No one is 100% protected from it, even governmental agencies. But when an employee is loyal to the company, it is less likely to happen. But loyalty requires a strong corporate culture and significant social and material benefits for personnel.
  • There are no logistical, cultural, or language challenges. The permanent employees are often the citizens of the same country and have the same native language. It can make communication more efficient.

Downsides of Having an In-house Team

At the same time, there are several downsides to having an in-house team. First of all, it takes a lot of time. The hiring process isn’t the fastest one, and finding every employee separately might take months. It is a significant disadvantage when we talk about immediate product releases and staying on top of the industry.

Secondly, it is much more expensive. And despite the costs for salaries and insurances, you will need to provide them with office space, means of transportation, and other necessary things. The responsibility for all of that lies on your shoulders.

Another concern is that although the permanent employees tend to show more loyalty, there is also quite a turnaround of IT professionals in all industries. If a person is offered a better deal, they might leave, and then your project will suffer until you find a new engineer. Offshore developers, on the other hand, are contractually obligated to finish the job.

To sum up, both of these options work differently in terms of:

  • Costs. Offshore development is much more cost-efficient.
  • Scalability. On this one, hiring a remote team is also better as you can scale it pretty instantly.
  • Control. It might be easier to manage and control permanent employees. But it is also very possible with a remote team if you establish a particular routine.
  • Loyalty. In-house employees tend to be more loyal to the company, but it is not a hard rule.
  • Expertise. Outsourcing gives more opportunities in terms of accessing high-level experts. Otherwise, they are pretty hard to recruit and sign up for a permanent contract. But they can perform excellent services on a contract basis.
  • Time. It is often faster to find a ready team offshore than look for in-house developers. At the same time, it all comes down to what your business needs – a speedy project release or long-term commitment.

In Summary

After all, the choice is up to the business and its needs. But it is pretty understandable why the outsourcing industry grows so steadily in recent years. It is a convenient way to find experts at lower costs, and for most companies, it is what makes the deal. 

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