Backend development is crucial to successfully launch a new web or mobile application.

Who wouldn’t want their future web app to become the next Basecamp, Coursera, or Airbnb? But as a CEO, you know that an idea — no matter how great — is nothing without proper implementation. And this is where it gets tricky because finding the right people to implement your web app idea becomes tougher by the day. In this article, we’ll be walking you through the intricacies of hiring experienced backend engineers.

So if you’re looking for a backend developer team, keep reading to learn Acropolium’s tricks.

As a company that has helped 3 startups grow into unicorns, Acropolium has personally felt the talent shortage.

We’ve seen it while developing apps for healthcare, HoReCa, fintech, oil and gas, transportation, construction, and many other fields. But thanks to the experience we’ve gained over almost two decades in development, we were able to hire the backend developers we needed, assembling strong, result-oriented teams.

So keep reading to learn how to choose a backend developer that has an optimal skill set, compare the cost of hiring backend developers in various regions across the globe, discover the benefits and potential challenges of backend development outsourcing, and learn the best approaches to overcome these challenges.

Let’s start small to make sure we’re on the same page.

Who is a backend developer?

Backend developers are software engineers responsible for designing and implementing the business logic of your application. Their responsibilities also include handling database operations and API interactions, both with frontend modules and third-party platforms. In addition to that, backend engineers ensure the security and performance of your app.

As you can see, that’s quite a broad set of responsibilities, which means the person handling them should have a range of skills that’s just as wide.

Hiring a backend developer can make or break your project.

What skills do backend developers need?

A backend software engineer must demonstrate an impressive command of many programming languages and frameworks, along with other hard and soft skills. Here’s an outline:

  • Server-side programming (Python/Django/Flask, Ruby/Rails, Go, Java, .NET, PHP, JavaScript, etc.)
  • SQL/NoSQL server and database management (MongoDB, Redis, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.)
  • API development
  • Microservices architecture
  • Serverless computing
  • Niche-specific libraries
  • Web security best practices

All this means that, when you decide to hire a backend developer, finding a perfect fit won’t be easy, let alone building a whole team in-house. This is why most companies go with backend development outsourcing to reputed technology providers.

Some even opt for BaaS or Backend-as-a-Service, a notion we will be covering later.

Hiring in-house vs. outsourcing to a dedicated team

There are benefits to both of these approaches, and while you may already know them, we’ll briefly list them once more.

You can hire a backend developer or a whole team in-house, or can outsource this task.

Building a software development team in-house improves knowledge continuity, simplifies team management and project progress tracking. However, this comes at the cost of paying bigger salaries, paying recruitment and HR costs, paying for insurance, retirement plans, vacation, sick leave, and other expenses.

Most importantly, you will have to keep the in-house team on the payroll even when the backend is mostly built, and their services are not much needed anymore. Otherwise, you will have to disband the team and repeat all the work from scratch should you need any product backend adjustments in the future.

On the other hand, reducing costs is the main reason why companies outsource backend development. Instant access to a dedicated team is another benefit, as you don’t waste time looking for talents — instead, they start providing value from day one.

Yes, you have to invest a bit more effort in remote team management and issue tracking, but when you work with a trustworthy software vendor, they take care of these things by default. Plus, you pay only for the services provided, and once the project is over, you part ways without hard feelings and can work together again when necessary.

Speaking of payment, let’s see why the cost of hiring software engineers of the same seniority level varies in multiple regions worldwide.

How much does it cost to hire a backend developer?

An experienced Python, Go, Ruby, or any other backend developer will demand at least $110,000+ in the US, according to Glassdoor. The lump-sum spent on each employee monthly can be up to 30% higher, due to additional compensations. Hiring such a talent in the EU will cost about 30% less, and backend development outsourcing to Ukraine will help save about 70% of these expenses.

Of course, the difference in salaries stems from the difference in the cost of living in various places. Even in the same countries, the numbers can differ because, obviously, living in a capital city is more expensive.

We’ve compiled the numbers from public sources like Glassdoor, Indeed, Djinni, and other job portals to illustrate the contrast in payments. All the sums are medians, so you can encounter higher or lower salary expectations, but these numbers are good representations.

CountryUSThe NetherlandsGermanyUkraine
Backend developer salary$110,450$86,184$84,215$36,000–$55,000

Other factors affecting the paycheck are the seniority level and the tech stack the developer knows how to work with. So, while these medians provide a pretty straightforward representation, the actual salary will vary in each individual case. Naturally, professionals able to work with more technologies, libraries, and frameworks will cost more.

How much does it cost to hire a backend developer?

Eastern Europe in general, and Ukraine in particular, are some of the most popular outsourcing destinations. The lower cost of living there, favorable taxation, and good technological background thanks to a strong education system, allowed Ukraine to become an IT hub.

More than 100 global corporations, like Samsung, Boeing, Microsoft, General Electric, and Oracle, have their R&D centers in Ukraine.

When you hire dedicated backend developers offshore, the benefits include not having to meddle in team composition, social benefits, compensation, office expenses, and more. But outsourcing to Ukraine adds the benefits of geographical proximity to the EU, working hours overlapping with the US and EU, simplified taxation for IT specialists, and instant access to more than 200,000 experts in various software development domains. This makes Ukraine one of the best places to find backend developers for long-term cooperation.

BaaS as alternative

There is also one alternative we haven’t discussed: going for the BaaS or Backend-as-a-Service approach, where you don’t even have to hire backend engineers. Instead of building the backend from scratch, you subscribe to remote access to cloud-based preconfigured common backend functions and save your time and money.

Backend-as-a-Service isn’t your conventional approach to web app development, so if the idea of outsourcing still sounds more appealing than BaaS, we get you. Just don’t forget to really consider the challenges of backend development outsourcing before you dive in.

Problems with backend development outsourcing

Backend development outsourcing comes with certain risks.

Sure, it’s not all roses, and there certainly are potential issues you might encounter when outsourcing. Let’s look at each of them here and discuss the solutions in the next chapter.

  • Risk of data leaks. Backend is the backbone of a web application, so if a security flaw is not discovered and fixed before the release, hackers can use API connections to breach the data of your app. The recent Bing update data leak is just one example. This means that when looking for a backend developer team, you must choose one trustworthy enough to admit their failures and correct them quickly.
  • Knowledge transfer. The end of a dedicated team’s work on your project must not mean a loss of knowledge of the system’s inner workings. Experienced backend engineers should provide in-depth documentation and guides on all backend module configurations to ease the transition of knowledge.
  • Unclear delivery expectations. The more careful you are when considering and refining project requirements, the better the chances of receiving high-quality deliverables on time.
  • Lack of flexibility. Once the technology stack is selected, adjusting it mid-project is nigh impossible. This calls for a more in-depth discovery stage and selecting the best fit for your needs.
  • Language and cultural barriers. The team you choose must follow the same business code as you, i.e., be a cultural fit. This includes a good command of English to ensure there is no miscommunication. In addition to that, their holidays should mostly match yours, to ensure the maximum efficiency of collaboration.
  • Time zone differences. Most likely, your dedicated team of backend engineers will live in a different timezone and work while you sleep. This means you’ll need to put more effort into building effective communication and task tracking to ensure tasks are done overnight.

Depending on your company’s industry, there might be more concerns to address, but even these points highlight the need to treat backend development with utmost seriousness. Here’s what you need to be looking out for.

Solutions to backend outsourcing problems

Partnering with a reputable software vendor helps solve the potential challenges of backend development.

While the challenges above might seem intimidating, with sufficient forethought and preparation, you can solve the problems we’ve mentioned or avoid them altogether.

  • Find a reliable contractor. Select the contractor based on their portfolio of successful projects, relevant domain expertise, and feedback from previous customers.
  • Outline the knowledge transfer process in advance. If you don’t plan on signing a long-term support contract with the backend development team that built your app, ensure they provide all the necessary developer documentation and product deployment guides so you can easily onboard a new team.
  • Prepare correct specifications. The best way to avoid costly mistakes when developing software is to devote sufficient time during the discovery phase. This allows analyzing all the project requirements in full and preparing concise, correct, and on-point specifications.
  • Choose the right tech stack. Ensure the tech stack used can deliver the expected results. Select not the shiniest new ones but the time-tested and proven libraries and frameworks the team has ample experience working with.
  • Test everything. The DevOps practices allow creating continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. Build testing environments and run unit and integration tests after submitting every new batch of code. This helps catch bugs early and keeps the delivery process predictable.
  • Set up communication between teams. While the backend is developed separately, it’s an integral part of the entire application, so it must interact with client-side modules seamlessly. This is possible only when frontend, backend, and QA teams cooperate and collaborate during the development process. Track progress and address any issues as soon as they arise to minimize their impact.

As you can see, there are quite simple ways to overcome the challenges of backend development outsourcing. And on top of that, you can simply omit some of them by going for the BaaS approach.

Why invest in BaaS

Let’s all agree that building a backend from scratch time and again is counterproductive. So why not use a cloud-based BaaS platform instead? It has the basic features most apps need preconfigured, and you can easily build your frontend on top of them.

Backend-as-a-Service enables time and costs reduction.

Each web app you want to build needs its backend components: a database to store user data, APIs to interact with third-party tools and platforms, etc. And you will have to invest your team’s time and resources to build standard modules like these.

Instead, when you use a BaaS platform like Parse, Back4App, Firebase, or Google APIs, you receive isolated data storage and a set of APIs to work with. This allows you to combine the existing blocks to build your business logic, form workflows, create new services, and much, much more.

Using this approach allows you to save on repetitive module development while building a wide range of software products, from websites and form builders to SaaS MVPs or full-scale products. We learned that long ago, and that’s why Acropolium has built its own BaaS platform for its clients.

Our BaaS platform supports web and mobile backend frameworks and is built to avoid vendor lock-in, which is a downside of the AWS or Azure offerings. It allows you to save time and effort on quickly prototyping application MVPs and switch to another backend infrastructure whenever needed.

Read also: How to find a Cloud Engineer.

How to hire dedicated backend engineers

You now know the skills to look for in backend engineers, the challenges to expect when you engage in backend development outsourcing, and the ways to overcome these problems. And since finding the right partner can become a major part of success for your next project, we thought we’d throw our hat in the ring.

Acropolium is a reputable software engineering company with more than 17 years of expertise in delivering complex enterprise-grade solutions for 23+ industries worldwide. We are happy to lend our knowledge and provide experienced backend engineers to help you design, build, and deploy secure, scalable, and highly performant apps. So, contact us, Acropolium is always glad to help!