What Engagement Model Is Right for You?

A properly chosen engagement model is a vital prerequisite for the successful delivery of an IT project.

In this article, we’ll share the list of the most popular models and explain how to pick the optimal one.

Engagement Model: The Essence Of The Term

An engagement model is the way of interaction between an IT company and its client. When choosing one, it’s important to take into account:

  • Complexity of the project
  • Time frame
  • Budget
  • Expertise (will the hired team need to complement the expertise of the client’s in-house team — or do they require a team with specific expertise?)
  • Project management (will the client supervise the team or will they entrust this task to a third party and will only assess the results?)
  • Flexibility (will the client want to introduce amendments on the go?)

There is no one-fits-all model that would suit all app development companies and other businesses from the IT industry.

5 Engagement Models To Select From

Below, we’ll share the characteristics of the five models that the best web development companies and other businesses from the IT sector stick to.

Dedicated Team

The client explains the specifics of the upcoming project to the service provider.

The latter forms a team whose members have the necessary skills and expertise.

This team typically works from the client’s office, side by side with the in-house specialists.

They don’t deal with any other tasks except for this project, which accelerates the development process.

The client might supervise the dedicated team themselves or ask a third party to do so.

The larger the team and the more hours it devotes to work, the more the client pays.

Anyway, it’s cheaper than hiring new in-house specialists — but only if the project is mid- or long-term.


The client needs not a team but one or several specialists with specific skills.

These people will complement the already existing team within the company.

They might work remotely or in the office of the hiring organization. The representatives of this organization will supervise their work.

Outstaffing and fixed bid are the only two engagement models from our list that work well for short-term projects.

Fixed Bid

The client informs the service provider about the requirements, budget and time frames of the project — and this information won’t change later.

Both parties will benefit from stability and predictability. If extra work needs to be done, both sides can sign additional contractual agreements.

The primary drawback of this model is that most development projects require flexibility.

Offshore Development Center

This model resembles the dedicated team. The main difference consists in the fact that the team will be working from an offshore territory.

The service provider establishes a legal entity in the territory, takes care of the infrastructure and pays the administrative costs.

The client gets access to a large pool of talents who charge less for their work than the professionals in the country where the client’s business is based.

The customer can hire a team of any size and with any skills. It will be functioning as an independent IT department of their company.

This team will be focused on only one project. It will be flexible and ready for scaling.

Technology Partner

The client has a vision of the project and maybe some resources to implement it.

However, they need more resources and, which is more important, third-party expertise.

A technology partner comes into play to answer the following questions:

  • Will the project be viable in the current market environment?
  • Which technologies should it be based on?
  • How large should be the team of the project?
  • Would it be better to form an in-house team, a remote one or a mix of the two?
  • What’s the optimal architecture and tech stack for the project?
  • How well are the chosen components compatible with each other? Can they ensure smooth scaling?

To become a technology partner, a service provider needs to have an extensive team of experts from various fields: from development to quality assurance, from project management to IT infrastructure analysis. They should be able to deliver turnkey solutions.

A technology partner might not only provide knowledge but also train and educate the client’s in-house staff.

The odds of success will be higher if the client will be able to outline the business goals of their project during their initial conversation with the service provider.

The primary benefit of this engagement model is an opportunity to minimize operating expenses.

Final Thoughts

The five engagement models to select from are a dedicated team, outstaffing, fixed bid, offshore development center and technology partner.

Only outstaffing and fixed bid are good for short-term projects.

When picking the optimal model, it’s necessary to take the following factors into account: the complexity of the project, time frame, budget, expertise, project management and flexibility.

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