If you’re looking for a Ruby on Rails development team, you likely know RoR’s advantages. It’s a great back-end framework for rapidly developing robust web apps. Thanks to how mature both the community and the technology are, Rails resources (most iconic of which are its libraries, called gems) are stable and trustworthy. Instead of writing a user registration feature from scratch, developers can focus their attention on what makes the project truly unique. And on top of all that, Rails’ testing culture and support are excellent.

Knowing this, what you need next is to find the experts that’ll help you leverage Rails’ strengths.

An agency, freelancers or an internal team?

There are three main ways to approach the issue of finding a development team for a project: hire your own developers, find freelancers or partner up with an agency. Each option comes with both advantages and disadvantages, and each can be the right answer in certain circumstances. We’d like to argue, however, that an external development team can easily and quickly build a scalable app that will be easy to launch and maintain.

An internal team is great for businesses that have IT at their core. If you need to build a complex product, particularly one that makes use of heavy calculations, Big Data, AI, ML, or a related field, you’ll probably need full-time experts to maintain it. Even so, it might be better to build some elements of the app, like the front-end, with an external team. Hiring your own developers is often an inflexible solution - will there be work for them to do once whatever task they were hired for is finished? If certain future tasks require particular abilities and experience, will new experts need to be hired? And are you willing to put time and effort into finding true experts in the technologies relevant for your project? Overall, hiring your own team is more ambitious and expensive, but sometimes, their loyalty to the company and their passion for the project can be well worth the trouble.

Working with freelancers in the other end of the spectrum and comes with some risk. Freelancers generally don’t have a team to depend on, which means that good development practices like code review done by team members are out of the question. As a result, code written by a freelancer can be buggy, difficult to scale and maintain, and not easily understandable to other developers, which could mean extra costs and delays when you need to expand your team. There are many horror stories in the industry involving freelancers, so make sure you check a few out before you commit to this option.

Finally, working with an external development team is something of a middle road. You have the benefits of flexibility (you can stop cooperating with your team at any time) without giving up quality. If the company you choose to work with is a reputable one, their breadth of experience and variety of specializations will be a huge added value - they’ll be likely to have worked on projects similar to yours, and thus able to offer good advice and help you avoid pitfalls. An agency will give you the opportunity for faster development thanks to good practices like peer reviews and quality assurance processes. By looking at their portfolio and talking to previous clients, you’ll have a good basis on which to build trust.

The obvious drawbacks of working with an external team is the higher cost when compared to freelancers (but not when compared to internal developers, especially if you consider the added value of experience, good practices and expertise) and the difficulty of finding the right team for your project. We’d like to help you with the latter issue by offering some tips on recognising a true team of Ruby on Rails experts (though they should apply to devs working with any other technology).

How to recognize a team of RoR experts

Highly skilled Ruby on Rails programmers are some of the most sought-after experts in the world of web app development. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s difficult to find a good Ruby on Rails development agency - there are clear signs to look for that can help you identify a good partner for your project.

Their content and clients

Chances are that if you search for Rails developers on Google, the websites that pop up near the top will be ones with robust blogs and SEO-optimized content. That makes them good at marketing, but not necessarily at their jobs. You need to take the dive and spend a bit of time reading their blog posts to see what level of expertise they’re presenting. Good companies share their know-how through tips, guides and case studies, not just click-baity listicles. They are open to criticism and comments, as well - they want to test their knowledge against that of other experts, so they’re not afraid to talk about their ideas on social media and in other public spaces.

The second thing to check out are their portfolios and testimonials written by their clients. Do they focus on business values and results? Are their projects complex or similar to yours? Do they have experience with your industry? Positive answers to all of these questions are not required, but can help you figure out if the company in question is a good fit. If none of the projects in the portfolio sound like yours, look for variety in project types. Development is problem-solving, and being able to only solve a few kinds of problems is a red flag. Also, building a simple website is a completely different undertaking than creating a complex fin-tech app, so try to gauge what kinds of projects the agency might excel at.

Testimonials posted on company websites are generally always positive, but that doesn’t make them any less true. Read between the lines and find out what the agency’s clients are paying attention to. Good communication? Speed and efficiency? If you want a second source, you can search for the company on Clutch.co or other rating portals. Finally, you can contact their current and previous clients and ask for their opinion.

Good practices

A development team made up of Ruby experts should be able to build projects in technologies other than Rails. It shows that they know the pros and cons of their tech stack, and when it’s best not too use it. It’s also a sign that they are curious and always on the lookout to develop or test their skills. What this means for your project is that they’ll be able to choose the best technological fit for the situation.

Another bad sign would be if an agency always works with the exact same tech stack every time they create a Rails app. It’s just not an approach that makes sense and shows a lack of experience with different solutions tailored to particular situations. If, on the other hand, a company can answer the question of which JavaScript front-end framework will serve your app best and are more than willing to use it, you can trust that they will make the right choices for your business.

Although Ruby on Rails is known as web back-end framework, experienced Rails developers know how to use it for both web and mobile projects. This versatility is very practical - even if you don’t want a mobile app right now, you might in the future, and the codebase should be built with scaling and expansion in mind. Experience with Ruby frameworks other than Rails is also a plus. It proves that the company know enough about Ruby that they aren’t too dependent on Rails and can go beyond what it offers should such a need arise.

The outsourcing agency you choose should have some open source or internal projects under their belt. Creating apps for themselves gives them extra experience, room for growth and the ability to experiment to an extent they likely wouldn’t go to with a client’s project. Thanks to this, they can stay sharp and open to new trends - and dismiss those new technologies that are all hype and no substance. Finally, the team should be able to develop an MVP quite quickly. If they are, it’s proof that they use Ruby gems (libraries) when they can, instead of reinventing the wheel and increasing costs for no good reason.

Conclusions

Hopefully, we’ve shown you why it’s important to work with a really good team of Ruby experts when building your project. Outsourcing has a reputation of being risky, but this risk can be almost completely removed by choosing the right partner. If you work with a reputable development agency, you can enjoy the benefits of lowered costs, faster development, as well as better scalability and easier maintenance of your app.

Looking for Ruby on Rails experts that will take your web project to the next level? Look for technical excellency.
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