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How to Reduce the Risks of Small Development Teams

Far Reach Small Team Risk

Many small and medium-sized businesses have small development teams. For startups and small companies, a single person may be responsible for handling all the tech-related needs—development, cloud hosting management, hardware updates, internet service, phones, and more. However, this comes with a lot of risk.

The Top Risks of Small Development Teams

On paper, small development departments make sense, especially in the current climate where development skills are at a premium. You keep the salaries and overhead low—but at what cost?

The team might be responsible for maintaining existing software systems, but what happens when you have bigger development projects or need new custom software developed? Or if someone on the team finds a different job and leaves? 

We’ve seen a lot of one-person development teams, where a single individual is responsible for all things software related. That’s incredibly risky. Here are just some of the reasons why:

  1. Your tech capabilities are limited to that one person’s tech expertise. Even the best developer can only know so much about front-end, back-end, databases, mobile, cloud, etc.
  2. Structure and controls are limited to the developer’s own process. In our experience, in development projects led by one person, documentation is lacking because “it’s all in their head.” What happens when that “head” leaves the company? Your “documentation” leaves with them.
  3. There’s no second set of eyes for help with code reviews, testing, and other types of due diligence. As a result, quality can suffer.
  4. The developer is a silo. They don’t have other developers to talk ideas through and solve problems with. Even the best developers need someone to bounce ideas off of. 
  5. The developer never gets a vacation. Even if they take time off or travel, they still have to be on call in case an emergency happens. When your software is mission-critical, you don’t want someone who’s exhausted to handle it. And, beyond that, everyone needs a break from time to time. (#FRCV9, #balance)

Putting all your eggs in one basket may seem cost-effective in the short term, but at some point, it’s going to cause issues. 

An Outsourcing Partner Reduces the Risks of Small Dev Teams

Outsourcing software development—some or all of it—can be a smart way to flexibly expand your capacity and capabilities while reducing your risk at the same time. 

Having a development partner:

  • Adds capacity
  • Reduces risk
  • Eliminates the eggs-in-one-basket problem 

A development partner can give you access to all of the benefits of an internal team while reducing the risks of having that team. 

For example, when you have a small internal development team, it’s easy for software best practices to be overlooked. This may not seem like a big deal until a key team member decides to retire or explore a new opportunity, leaving you with a lot of questions and very few answers.

Find a Right Fit Development Partner

Thinking of reducing your risk and bringing on a development partner? Learn how to find the right fit.


An external development partner can help bring more structure to your development workflow. From version control and continuous deployment to planning and prioritization, it’s helpful to have a partner with a fresh perspective and a variety of areas of technical expertise.

When you have a team familiar with your software, instead of just an individual, you reduce your risk of lost knowledge. Even if someone from your or your partner’s team leaves, there are other team members familiar with the system. This reduces interruptions and ensures business continuity. 

Last but not least, an external partner can bring a fresh perspective that’s far beyond what a single developer or small team can offer. Experienced development companies have worked with companies in a variety of industries and focus on software day in and day out. They already know the common challenges of software development and have processes in place to reduce clients’ risk.

An outside perspective can help you focus on the scope of the software you’re building and make sure you’re optimizing your development efforts. And an external partner can go beyond the software development itself and advise you on things like business cases, features to add or remove, and cybersecurity and compliance.

Looking for a Software Development Partner?

Far Reach has decades of experience building custom software. You don’t need to spend years hiring and training expensive developers, and you don’t need to take on the risk of a one-person development team. 

If you have a small development team and want to reduce the risks that come with that, reach out.