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Creative, marketing, and branding agencies seem to have one thing in common: an inability to hang on to their web dev staff.

Let me explain the two most common scenarios when agencies decide to bring web development in-house.

Scenario 1 – “Junior Dev Agency”

This decided they wanted development in-house. They put out an open position listing, get a few bites from the free agents out there at that moment, and they end up hiring a very junior developer due to their budget (and lack of discernment in web dev skills). That developer is not going to hang around for long.

They weren’t qualified enough for that position from the get-go! They won’t make it because they don’t have the chops to be the solo dev responsible for an agencies suite of maintenance agreements, scoping new projects, managing timelines, problem solving for complicated customer requirements, and just figuring everything out themselves.

After a couple of years of burning cortisol, not growing, not being managed, and not being mentored, they are absolutely fried. They move on.

Scenario 2 – “Senior Dev Agency”

Unlike the previous agency, this group decided they would learn from the mistakes of hiring junior devs, so instead they hired a more senior developer. They paid the big bucks, but now they have their heavy hitter.

This new hire can comfortably take care of maintenance sites, set up new builds, and consult with customers. They start to get busier and more projects flow in. Suddenly, that dev is now swamped and under water.

He/she finds themselves struggling to keep up with plugin updates, making adjustments here and there to this button or that link, and just staying on top of the tiny requests. The agency has big projects coming in, so they decide they need to outsource the big complete projects so that the in-house dev can take care of the millions of small requests that have quick turn around.

And just like that, before they knew it, they took their heavy hitter and permanently placed them in the kiddy pool. They aren’t learning new things. They aren’t experimenting with new technologies. They’re not getting any better, and what’s worse, they have no where to grow.

Goodbye! They’re gone. Moving on to bigger and better opportunities.

Problems with both scenarios

What’s more, in both scenarios above, neither a solo junior or solo senior dev have proper developer-friendly project management, continued learning opportunities, in-house quality control, or anyone to run over and say, “Hey why the heck isn’t this box going where I’m telling it to go!?”

Obviously, here at Kestrel we’re a big fan of embedded web development partnerships.

Most creative agencies need an actual web development partner. That partner should have a team of web developers at different tiers of experience, with internal project management, and internal code review. That partner should be able to better articulate the client’s technical problem than the agency. And, therefore, that partner should be stateside.

These are our thoughts. If you agree, give us a shout and let’s chat!