What's the Point of Full Stack Developers
Updated: Jan 20
Front-end and back-end developers are a valuable and essential part of an established development team.
But specialising in the front or back-end isn’t the only option for developers. Full Stack Developers specialise in a particular tech stack and hiring one gives you a competitive advantage.
To understand why consider a couple of examples.
Let's say you're a boutique software development firm and one of your customers has an Excel spreadsheet that they need converting into a cloud-based SaaS app. (I've worked on many such projects so it's a common use case believe it or not).
A Full Stack Developer can build that entire system independently which is extremely cost-effective. They don’t require a front or back end developer to help with the initial UI, server-side tech or database design. They can design, build and deploy the app themselves.
I know what you're thinking. Developers shouldn't work in silos and great teams build great software. While that's true for largish projects it's not the case for smaller ones like this example. If you deploy a small team of developers onto a small project you'll just delay the project delivery. Adding more developers to a project increases the management overhead and the likelihood of developers stepping on each other's toes.
To take another example, say a large corporation wants to create a new product to offer their customers. Rather than spending months planning, designing and building a product in the background without having any interaction with real customers, they do the sensible thing and build a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). (If you're not sure what this is read The Lean Startup).
Full Stack Developers are a great resource to have on the team because they can kick-start an MVP for minimal cost. The business doesn’t need to allocate a team of specialists when one or two people can do the job more cost-effectively.
Using Full Stack developers means you can get to market fast with less people. And if the developers use serverless technologies you can get to market faster than you'd ever thought possible.
Once an application has gone beyond the MVP stage (read minimal features) there'll come a point where it makes sense to bring in different kinds of specialist. That’s when the expertise of front-end and back-end developers becomes indispensable.
So what’s the point of Full Stack Developers?
I’d say Full Stack Developers are great at building products and getting them delivered fast. That’s why I call them Software Product Engineers.