Pros and Cons of Hiring an Agency vs. Individual Freelancer at Upwork.com

Daryna Tkachenko

Hiring a remote employee is always risky. True for freelance platforms as well. We’d like to forearm you with a few tips on how to properly choose a technical vendor for your software project — an individual freelancer or an agency — using Upwork as an example. Logicify team shares pros and cons of hiring an Upwork freelance agency. 

5 min read

Upwork.com remains one of the most popular freelance platforms all over the world. From its foundation in 1999, the company has raised a total of $168 million. At Upwork, clients have a wide choice of subcontractors for their needs. Depending on the project scope and duration, they can hire either an individual freelancer or an Upwork agency for hire. For large and complex projects, agency is a preferred option.

Here are some pros and cons of hiring an Upwork agency vs. a team of individual freelancers.

Pros of Hiring an Upwork Agency

If you post job offers at Upwork.com or plan to do so, consider these arguments in favor of hiring an agency vs. individual freelancers. Also, check if your project is worth hiring an agency for.

Pros of Hiring an Upwork Freelance Agency.

  • In most cases, Upwork agencies already have coordinated teams, so there is no need to cherry-pick team members with the similar skillset among the ones who applied for the project.
  • An agency may help lower the overall project cost. As the teams would be formed by members with varied professional levels (junior, middle and senior devs), there is no need to overpay for a senior dev in case a junior could cope with some tasks.
  • Agencies are more likely to show an in-depth involvement in the project and align their vision with the client’s due to firm corporate culture.
  • Agency could help a client determine project requirements and scope (for instance, during a so-called discovery phase). While this could be the first project for a client, the agency has most likely worked on a similar project in the past.
  • Agencies could also assist with scaling the project and, in a broader sense, with consulting services. For instance, if the agency already had prior experience with a similar project, they could point out to the piece of functionality to be improved/removed. Plus, they’ll come up with a more realistic time estimate for an already proven solution.
  • When working with agencies, the clients usually have a better legal protection. Contrary to individual freelancers, companies registered at Upwork can be sued. Some companies at Upwork, including Logicify, also have professional insurance, which is a benefit to the client.
  • An agency team is likely to have a dedicated manager, knowledgeable in every team member’s personal touch (skillset and tech stack, pace, fortes, etc.). So, the project estimates would be backed up by experience, thus more accurate.
  • Communication with an agency is smoother and more productive because of a clear division or roles and responsibilities. A client is likely to communicate with the agency manager, who would further coordinate the work of the team members.
  • Again, due to strictly divided spheres of responsibility, it is easy to find a person in charge for a specific problem, determine the root cause and address the issue in a timely manner.
  • Agencies are likely to offer a continuity of services and knowledge. If a team member leaves, another could be added easily.
  • Agencies offer a transition of talent as the project evolves. The developers who worked on a beta version of the product would most likely be involved in working on the alpha. They know the product’s ins and outs, and this saves time on knowledge transfer/research by a new freelancer.
  • Paying to the agency is easier than to a team of individual freelancers. The client just transfers the funds to the agency bank account and does no longer care about the amounts split between the team members - the agency admin or financial person does this instead.

Logicify is registered as an Upwork agency, and we do offer all of the above benefits to our clients. We do bring our customer-centric and involved approach into every project we apply for. Have a project idea? Contact us directly or visit our Upwork profile, and we’ll get in touch.

Cons of Hiring an Upwork Agency

We won’t be objective without listing a few disadvantages of hiring an Upwork agency vs. individual freelancers.

Cons of Hiring an Upwork Freelance Agency.

  • As agencies are usually hired for long-term and expensive projects, clients are facing higher risks too. To avoid losses or irreversible damages in the course of a longer project, clients are recommended to start their cooperation with a new agency by a short trial assignment.
  • When working with an agency, a client does not always articulate the requirements directly to the freelancers working on the project. In most cases, there is a manager in charge of transmitting the client’s vision to the dev team. So, the communication process is longer and somewhat more complicated.
    However, this objectively could be addressed with a so-called “time & materials” contracts at Upwork. Under this cooperation mode, Logicify allows and promotes direct communication of developers with the client.
  • The same concerns control over the project flow. While some clients are glad to entrust the whole process to a remote team, some prefer to be in full control of development. With agencies, management is sometimes complicated. Dishonest agencies often take advantage of this and shadow-outsource their work, without making the client aware of this.
  • Agencies might practise shadow working or replace team members, for instance, a middle developer could be substituted by a junior without an official notice to the client. Mind this as you negotiate team line-up.
  • Agencies have freelancers with varied seniority levels working in one team. So mediocre or unprofessional people may hide behind diligent professionals. As the agency’s rating is shared by all freelancers employed in it, poor developers could get high marks at somebody else's expense.
    However, if freelancers work per hourly rates, the client could usually track the work each team member accomplishes.
  • When hiring an agency, the client usually overpays for the management of the freelancers employed in it. While this makes the project a bit more expensive, yet saves time. This is up to the client to decide whether he/she prefers to pay extra money and hire an agency, or spend more time and neurons coordinating the work of individual freelancers.

When Logicify team works on Upwork projects, we always strive to leverage our value and client resources. Before the project starts, we like all requirements defined and documented. Our cooperation is clear and transparent, with every team member’s responsibilities being visible to the client. Our progress on a project could be discussed with the client on regular stand-up and status calls.

Share details of your project with us via email (hi@logicify.com) or contact form below. We’ll get back to you shortly.

Closing Tip

there is no hard and fast recipe whether to hire an agency or individual freelancers at Upwork; the final choice depends on the personal preferences and project specifics. At Upwork, there are many bad and good agencies as well as bad and good individual freelancers. To properly select a vendor for a project, Upwork clients are recommended to have a seasoned and strong CTO (or a CTO role) in their company. This person should be in charge of selecting a reliable and skilled remote workers to be hired and manage their work. A good idea is hiring an agency for a small (trial) project to check their professional level and keep on further cooperating on larger and more complex projects.

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