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Hiring Full-Stack Developers: Pros and Cons

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Hiring Full-Stack Developers: Pros and Cons

For companies looking to hire full-stack developers, one of the industry’s most pervasive — and frankly detrimental — myths is the notion that to put together the best development teams for your project, you must somehow rely on narrow expertise.

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At first glance, of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with this concept. After all, the idea is systematically replicated in a variety of different fields: from engineering to sports to medicine and even the subjective arts, it is common to focus exclusively on experts. Yet as we hope to explain in today’s article, the reality is significantly more nuanced. When it comes to digital transformation, for instance, companies who are able to quickly adapt will be better prepared for the digitisation process than their narrow-expertise counterparts.

So with this in mind, Software Planet Group would now like to take a look at the business benefits of full-stack development, analyse other popular full-stack developer myths and present you with the inevitable drawbacks.

Deeper Understanding & Wider View

Before anything else, however, what is full-stack development to begin with? Well, while specialist developers will usually work within the confines of their own favoured disciplines — and are consequently either limited to frontend, backend or data layer operations — a full tech stack by contrast implies that programmers will contribute at every stage of the development process, across multiple layers of the solution’s architecture. This begins with the server side and its corresponding frameworks and technologies, and ends with the actual interface with which users interact on the daily.

As a result, if you have decided to hire full-stack developers, one of the most important full-stack developer skills is their ability to deal with multiple areas of the product’s development from a broader, all-encompassing perspective. This means that they are able to efficiently discern how the frontend and backend should interact and behave.

So this is all well and good in theory, but is there any evidence to back it up?

Full Stack Beats Niche Expertise

In his book, Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, Investigative Journalist David Epstein puts forward a compelling argument on why it is better to be an academic pluralist than a purist.

The author’s central tenet derives from the work of Psychologist Robin Hogarth, who famously argued for the existence of two principal learning environments: a so-called “kind” environment, in which a close link exists between information, decisions, actions and feedback; and a “wicked” environment, where feedback may be poor, misleading or even altogether missing. 

According to Epstein, because we have made this transition from an industry-driven economy to one that is creativity and knowledge-driven, we are currently dealing with “wicked problems,” in which responsibilities are always changing, and professionals with a range of experience are likely to fare much better.

For example, in spite of its business benefits, automation continues to threaten jobs, which means specialist skills will prove increasingly dispensable. This is also set to have an impact on software development.

Yet opting for full-stack applications is not merely a matter of longevity, as whether in the app’s architecture or integration with third-party services, they can also drive forward innovation.

So with all of this in mind, let’s go over some other full-stack developer benefits:

Advantages of Hiring Full-Stack Developers

Full-Stack Flexibility

When considering full-stack programming, one of the first business benefits that spring to mind is the ability of full-stack developers to work at various levels of the software architecture. This makes it markedly easier to both put together and scale a team of specialists for your project, because all team members should be mostly interchangeable in their activities. At the same time, it also increases resilience, as you are far less likely to bring the entire project to a halt if your back-end engineer falls ill, for instance. In such a case, his or her peers may then simply step in and take care of their portion of the tasks. Some are even convinced that software programmers with full-stack skills are more adaptable to changes in technologies. After all, unlike many software engineers with narrow expertise, full-stack specialists are well accustomed to working in diverse conditions. Consequently, any app building company with full-stack experts should in theory be better suited for braving the ever-changing technological landscape.

Full-Stack Expertise

On the subject of web and mobile application development, one of the main full-stack developer benefits is their ability to choose the optimal form of implementation and not just follow the well-trodden path. During the technical design phase, full-stack specialists can more freely combine various technologies, while simultaneously taking into account their suitability for the project’s needs. This is not only because of their skills across multiple, diverse domains, but also due to their various proficiencies. They are able to see and advise, for instance, where Java works better with a frontend based on React, where Python would be a more cost-effective backend solution, if the customer would be better off considering Node.js or .NET, and if the project would benefit from Angular as opposed to making use of Vue.

Effective Error Handling

As developers who fully understand the logic of the project, full-stack software engineers are better equipped to deal with any errors and issues that may occur throughout the project’s development. This means that they can usually pinpoint the nature of a problem as well as where they are likely to have originated. Furthermore, as professionals with great experience in all web development stacks, they are able to conduct the project at all stages. This not only is conducive to workflow optimisation, but means troubleshooting at every stage and level.

Reduce Implementation Delays

In stark contrast with narrow expertise, once you’re dealing with a full-stack team, you will no longer have to wait on front-end developers before implementing other parts of the system. Instead, full-stack programmers can parallelise work to keep everything moving in concert.

Reduce Communication Delays

Importantly, full-stack development also implies that fewer developers will be needed for the project. Of course, working with fewer people should enable your company to reduce additional communication and to generally keep it simple. As a result, you can communicate effectively with fewer delays, better feedback and limited misunderstandings. Furthermore, more often than not, when a full-stack developer works on implementing a feature, they are responsible for the entire flow. This not only leads to a more consistent logic, but leaves less room for miscommunication which stands in contrast to the likely inefficiency of having multiple people oversee different parts of the same system while relaying information to each other.

Great Responsibility Handling

The above is true because in general, full-stack software developers have a broader outlook than their specialist counterparts. This results in their innate ability to easily handle more responsibility, as they can oversee not only specific areas of the project, but in reality the project as a whole. In this way, by quickly adapting to any team and seamlessly building from concept to completion, the full-stack development process also lends itself to improved developer support.

Hire Full-Stack Developers to Save Money

Because you are dealing with higher quality software specialists, the choice to hire full-stack developers will inescapably cost companies more. Nonetheless, this only addresses the surface level of the equation, as you will likely also complete your project considerably faster than otherwise. In fact, because full-stack development companies will allow you to strike a balance between cost and efficiency, they are more often than not the budget-friendly option. This is certainly the case when it comes to full-stack development outsourcing. So with this in mind, in order to experience the best full-stack developer benefits, opt for full-stack development services that are bolstered by offshore prices.

Types of Full Stack

While all of the above benefits are great, when seeking to find full-stack developers, what are the tech stacks available for your company? Well, though there of course are multiple possibilities, below are the most popular combinations and as a result the most sought after stacks:

Full-stack MEAN

MEAN — or MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js — is a JavaScript-based open source web stack that is primarily used for cloud-ready applications. While the MEAN stack won’t be right for every platform, MEAN stack applications are typically flexible, scalable, and extensible, which makes them perfect for the following types of projects:

  • Expense tracking
  • Calendars
  • Mapping and location finding
  • News aggregation sites

Full-stack MERN

As the name implies, the MERN stack, on the other hand, is a variation of the aforementioned MEAN stack in which the traditional Angular framework is replaced by React JS. Consequently, MERN enables developers to build frontends, backends and databases using nothing but JavaScript and JSON. Like any other web stack, you can build whatever you like in MERN — though it’s ideally placed with more JSON-heavy, cloud-native applications with dynamic interfaces.

Other full-stack combinations

Other popular full-stack options include any of the tech stacks listed below. Please do bear in mind, however, that there are also a number of Java as well as .Net-based combinations.

  • LAMP stack (JavaScript, Linux,  Apache, MySQL and PHP)
  • LEMP stack (JavaScript, Linux, Nginx, MySQL and PHP)
  • MERN stack (JavaScript, MongoDB, Express, AngularJS and Node.js)
  • Django stack (JavaScript, Python, Django and MySQL)
  • Ruby on Rails (JavaScript, Ruby, SQLite and Rails)

Disadvantages of Hiring Full-Stack Developers:

Up until this point, we have only been discussing the advantages of full-stack developers, but it would be wrong to not pay heed to the potential disadvantages as well:

1. The obvious problem: a lack of deep expertise

Sometimes deep expertise becomes extremely important. There are a few different scenarios when this might turn out to be the case, but from time to time, you cannot ignore the need for a niche expert. Perhaps you are dealing with some low-level problem research, or possess very fine optimisation requirements. In such cases, and if your platform or software solution has any other known challenging or problematic areas, it is always beneficial to have a subject matter expert at hand who works alongside your full-stack team.

2. Hard to come by

Unless partnering with a company that truly believes in full-stack development, a team of dedicated full-stack developers can be difficult to come across. This is a consequence of unchecked marketing, which has by and large reduced the term to a meaningless label.

3. Higher price

Certain tasks will also benefit from specialisation. As a result, it might sometimes be more cost effective to use less skillful software developers to deal with certain technical activities (e.g. a page optimisation job can be done by a front-end developer, or DB tuning may be performed by a database administrator). In general terms, if the task can be easily isolated, it is probably more suitable for a one-tech specialist.

4. Inability to keep up with the latest trends

This is often a real concern, which is why at Software Planet Group, we strive to overcome this issue by fostering a culture of continuous learning. In this way, we can constantly evolve our stacks by closely monitoring all the changes in the industry.

The Choice Is Yours

As Epstein noted in a 2019 interview, it is culturally telling that the full quote is “Jack of all trades, master of none, oftentimes better than master of one.” That last bit is rarely if ever heard today, but only because it is so criminally misunderstood.

Being a full-stack, or “jack-of-all-trade” software developer doesn’t imply that we are unable to specialise in a single technology, but rather that we strive to be versatile specialists with a more valuable, broader outlook and more useful, wider expertise. The business benefits should be immediately apparent.

Hire Full-Stack Developers From Software Planet

If you are looking to outsource full-stack development, why not hire full-stack developers from SPG?

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