A Software Developer In Your Company

This article will cover reasons why I believe a software developer for a mid-sized company can be a very valuable asset even if your business doesn’t do any software development as its core business strategy. The reasons are mostly based on my own experience as well as information I receive from other companies I've worked together with.

When Should You Consider Hiring A Developer?

Software developers are at the higher end of the salary spectrum compared to most employees. Therefore, a certain company size is definitely required in order to be able to cover the costs and for the developer to actually bring significant benefits to the company. The required company size is like very often depending on the situation but if one of the following points is true it is worth investigating:

  • More than 50 employees
  • More than 5 million sales
  • More than 500 customers
  • Significant amount of IT adjustments
  • Significant amount of reports (production, finance, sales, etc.)

What Does A Developer Bring To The Table?

Architectural Decisions

A developer can help you with structuring your ERP and Finance software. Developers often have to work and think in a very structured way which makes it almost second nature to think and design relations between different business aspects. At the same time a decent developer always keeps in mind the big picture and making sure architectural decisions will remain valid for a long time. A software developer will be able to see problems that lay ahead easier and point out pitfalls in advance.

This can be helpful for structuring product segmentations, profit centers and reports.

In-house Development

After reaching a certain company size you'll find yourself in the need for custom analysis and reports very often. These reports are usually expensive to create by your software vendor, take a long time until implementation or don't really reflect what you're looking for.

A developer who works in a company has a much better understanding about the needs and can implement them accordingly. The implementation is also faster (assuming the developer had enough time to get to know the IT system, available information and databases). Sometimes these solutions are as simple as making a database request and just displaying on a web page, exporting it as pdf or excel file. This can be achieved in a couple of minutes compared to hours of discussion with a software vendor who charges a high fee.

Great projects/tasks for an in-house developer are:

  • Modification of CRM software
  • Discussing changes with software vendors (the developer is the negotiator/translator)
  • Implementing own reporting software analysis tools
  • Supporting IT heavy projects (e.g. implementation of a shop system)

For a developer to be cost effective a broad spectrum of simple/fast and long running projects is required. Otherwise it is better to outsource these tasks or let "normal" employees deal with them.

The amount of work and therefore costs which can be saved through optimizations in many companies is significant. A software developer is able to give this fresh input from a completely different and maybe unorthodox point of view while also being able to implement the required software solutions. The amount of work hours which can be saved through software automation can easily cover for the costs of a developer in many companies.

It's also important to note that the results will be much better if the software developer receives a comprehensive training by all departments and gets to see and experience the different workflows.

Why A Developer Might Be Interested?

  • The developer gets to experience a very broad spectrum of tasks which many like
  • The developer is the expert of his field since the main business activities are not software development
  • The developer can actually create something that has an immediate effect
  • The developer can implement own ideas

Why A Developer Might Not Be Interested?

  • The developer could become the IT guy and be responsible for unrelated tasks such as PC/printer fixing
  • The developer might be employed only for a fixed amount of time until the key improvements/solutions are implemented

Potential Positive Effect For The Company

  • Workflow optimizations
  • Reduced costs due to automation
  • Reduced errors due to automation
  • Faster results due to automation
  • Better architecture of business components (e.g. product segments, profit center, etc.)
  • In-house consultant for new IT solutions
  • Translator for negotiations with IT vendors