January 17, 2021

I'm about to convince my CEO not to outsource the web app we were planning to build, and let me build it. Any tips?


Recently, my company made plans to build a web app for the company and asked me to write the System requirement document as well as the RFP, so that we can hire a vendor that will build it for us. The web app will function as a competition platform, where people can nominate, juries can judge, and the public can vote for their favourite nominees.

While writing those documents, I also build some wireframes and process flows for the web app just so I can visualize everything. As I was learning nocode development on the side, I decided to build a prototype on Bubble.

Lo and behold, I manage to get all the features working for our phase 1 requirement. I am confident I can get everything working, I just need more time.

Now I am considering asking my CEO to just let me build it on Bubble, and save us the cost of outsourcing.

I am building my case like so:

  • We will save a lot of money. From initial talks with some potential vendors, seem like most are suggesting it'll be about 10k - 30k for the project.
  • I've been part of the project team for 3 years, so I understand the competition flow very well (part of the reason why I was asked to write the sys requirements). If we keep it internal, there will be minimal communication issues and lag.
  • Total control of the platform. We won't be relying on the vendor availability when we need to make changes. We would be in complete control, and no need to deal with handovers.

Anything else I can say to convince my CEO to let me build it instead of outsourcing?

  1. 2

    Is the vendor merely an order taker? If they are not adding any more value than simply developing software to the spec, maybe no-code is a great way to prototype and communicate exactly what you need anyway.

    I'm not sure where you are outsourcing to but 10-30k is not much in the software industry. While I was a consultant at an agency, we charged a few million for developing a web application.

    If you are building on top of someone else's platform like Bubble, it is not a 'total control of the platform'. They may go out of business one day and lose everything, but you can replace your vendor or hire someone internally to keep the product running. I agree that being more in control in-house is usually a good idea, given that the project is on the top priority list of the company and not just one of the bets they make where they expect 10% of them to succeed.

  2. 1

    Just for context, I am the Creative Lead for the team. I've been building and maintaining our company websites on Wix and Wordpress for several years now, but I realise maintaining a web app may be different than just static website and blogs.

    1. 2

      If the external team would handle it, what else would you be doing as part of your job?
      Like are you going to move 2-3 more projects during this time with other vendors?
      Think from your bosses POV, what would he be losing from letting you work on it, frequently the money is not the main point, but the "opportunity cost" of the things you normally are doing and creating for the company.
      The Wordpress/Wix pages your maintaining, who would handle them if you are allocated to that project?
      Could you reduce the bus factor for the new project if you are going to develop it? is there a 2nd person on your team you can get just as excited to teach and be a secondary?.. or is there a way you can work in part with a 3rd party that would support it? maybe a bubble vendor?..

      1. 2

        I agree with the comment above. In particular, I think the biggest objections you'll face are around maintenance, support, and future feature enhancements. If you have a plan to accomplish those things then you may be able to get the green light. If your organization doesn't work with these types of no-code app building tools frequently then you're going to be bringing a new technology into the mix with just one internal subject-matter expert (you) who also has other responsibilities.

        You also mentioned that one of the benefits to building in bubble is that you'll have complete control - I am no expert on bubble, but my assumption is that you would actually be more limited using such a tool than if you built it with a more traditional stack. Your existing technology team likely won't be equipped to maintain or build on top of the tool and you'll have to outsource to specialized bubble developers if your other responsibilities start to conflict. Not trying to be negative on bubble by any means, I think no-code tools are great (and I'm not a developer) but just something to consider.

    2. 1

      Taking a Lean approach, use Bubble for the first release but make sure you track the metrics you need to learn what's working and what's not. And once you learn which features are truly in demand, then either enhance in Bubble (if you still need to learn more) or get the vendor to build a more focused feature-set. You'll spend your money more wisely i.e. building what counts (ROI), and the outsourced team will have something to 'copy' which will be much more beneficial for both you and them.

      With outsourcing, the biggest barrier is communication and having a vendor understand what you want built. So having something to copy (or copy with small adjustments) will be easier and quicker for them to deliver.

      Plus you'll get to market much faster this way.

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