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25. 3. 2024

8 min read

Considering a product agency? Here’s what you need to know.

Need more space to focus on big-picture business decisions? Hiring a product agency to step in and steer your product might be just the thing. They bring a wealth of expertise and skills that can be tough to attract and retain in-house. However, there's a catch: handing over control of day-to-day product development. True, there are many ways to build products successfully. Yet, outsourcing product discovery and delivery can help you ship the ones people love much faster. So, should you bring in a product agency? Let's dive into that dilemma.

Filip Letovanec

Product Manager


  • Product agencies can bring expertise and give you more space for big business decisions.

  • Assess where your business stands now and what your next big milestone is.

  • Create a plan with clear objectives to reach that milestone.

  • Determine potential challenges and think about where a product agency could help you.

  • Check your finances to see if hiring a product agency is even possible.

Think About Your Status Quo

Starting at the very beginning. Building a successful business takes a ton of work. It is fast-paced (hey, startups!), dynamic, collaborative, and subject to rapid changes and unforeseen circumstances.

It gets easy to lose the view in the weeds of daily hustle. So, let’s stick your head out and shed light on the bigger picture: your current status quo. Reflect on your product vision as the ultimate destination for your business:

  • What have you achieved so far?

  • What is already done at this point? (a website, a demo, a bunch of designs, a few user interviews…)

  • What does your product look like? (if you already have one)

  • What is happening in the business right now?

  • What are you working on right now?

It doesn't matter if you are a startup with a Figma demo and a small pitch deck or a company with enterprise-grade software. Reflecting on this helps you better frame your current business needs.

Point to Your Next Big Milestone

Knowing where you are, now let's think about where you're headed. Focus on your very next business milestone. As a company stakeholder, you are trying to reach this milestone in the short run, which ensures your business grows and stays viable on a larger scale. What is that milestone? Do your best to define it as precisely as possible:

  • What is the next big business milestone you NEED to achieve?

  • Why do you need to achieve this milestone?

  • What will the business look like at that point?

Milestone priorities differ from one company to another across industries, technology requirements, product scopes, market conditions, and fundraising efforts... and in most cases, they should be pretty clear. However, if you happen to be unsure, take some time and carefully assess your business direction. Small steps in the right direction are better than leaps in the wrong (or no) direction.

Draw The Path to Get There

What do you need, and what's blocking you?

Okay, so you know where your business is and where you want it to be. Let's draw a map to get there. That will serve as a path with stepping-stones to follow and reach the business milestone. Here, we can even get practical and help ourselves with OKRs (Objectives & Key Results). Let's look at the example:

Suppose that your next milestone is to make sure your product idea has a product-market fit, and you need to validate traction to raise a seed round.

Objective: Validate my product-market fit

Key Results:

  1. Launch an MVP

  2. Acquire 5 paying customers

  3. Successfully implement 3 feature requests

Breaking your plan down gives you an actionable roadmap. For each key result, identify activities and artifacts you need to plan, prepare, build, launch, and reach. For example, Taking 10 feedback sessions with users will require some thinking, some script writing, and the logistics of booking slots, making users aware of it, and incentivizing them to participate in the first place.

Always think about the easiest possible way to get each key result done. You go for the big wins, so don't perfect the road that gets you there.

Now, the other half - is there anything blocking you from reaching your business milestone? That can slow you down, create an obstacle, or prevent you from moving forward?

  • Are there any steps where I'm fully blocked?

  • Which steps of my roadmap are the most difficult to execute?

  • Where would I need extra help?

  • Is there anything else that might prevent me from achieving my milestone (end of runway, time constraint, etc.)?

If you haven't identified any blockers, that's great - you have your plan out straight, a clear pathway to move your business forward without much friction.

If you have, even better! You now know your challenges! You've found shortcomings and pitfalls before they've had a chance to harm you. These are the areas where extra effort and additional resources will likely be needed, and that's why we're here – to give you an extra hand to reach your business goals.

How Can a Product-Building Agency Help?

Many product agencies, just like Sudolabs, provide solution-oriented end-to-end product building. So, instead of simply outsourcing engineers, we partner up with businesses to understand their business objectives, unpack their problem space, and build their products to truly be a solution to a customer problem. And we do this collaboratively with stakeholders all the way through.

So, let's find out where an agency like ours could help you. Take all the identified key results, activities, and artifacts and split them into 2 groups. The first group includes those you can do yourself. The second one contains blockers and key results that require outside expertise, skills, or significant effort.

  1. Start with the second group. Identify the key results that are core to achieving your business milestone with no other way around it. If you had not got these key results right, there would have been a tiny chance of ever achieving the milestone. Mark these as must-haves.

  2. Find the key results that require specific expertise your company doesn't have yet - for example, AI engineering or data work. Mark these as your special capabilities.

  3. Is there a key result requiring a larger expert team? You likely can't easily outsource it to a freelancer and will need a whole bunch of people on it. Mark them as large scopes.

  4. Back to the first group, shall we? Consider which key results you could do yourself, but you'd rather delegate them to others. Mark them as burdens.

Let's put it all together. The most important are must-haves that are also special capabilities - these are non-negotiable core work, and you should think about how to cover them in the best way possible. Then come large scopes, more complex work requiring a broader focus and should be done together with must-haves or special capabilities (or both).

The intersection of these 3 areas tells you exactly what external help you need. The burdens come at the end and are the cherry on top in a partnership with a product-building agency.

Consider All Your Options

Is an agency the best fit for your company?

Product-building agencies might not always be the right fit. Since you now know where you need an extra pair of hands, it's about time to think about what that help looks like.

If you're strongly leaning towards product agencies, ask yourself why. Has one of them been recommended to you, or have you seen their successful projects?

For smaller key results, freelancers are often a better choice. They offer great flexibility and cost efficiency. However, they might not fit well with large-scope problems. They could be juggling multiple clients at the same time, having limited space to commit to your project. They also tend to push for less oversight, which might cause them to overlook critical business needs influencing product decisions.

Product-building agencies can offer just that - a comprehensive approach to complex projects. They offer scalability and diverse expertise but come with structured processes and higher costs, which might not suit early-stage startups. We've even written an article discussing the perks of teaming up with agencies – check it out!

Look at Your Runway

Can you stay afloat with agency expenses until you reach the milestone?

Does a product agency seem to be the best choice here? Great! It's time to do one last thing: look at your finances.

We've said it already, but to remind you, agencies can be expensive - they charge higher rates than individual contributors. However, it might still be more budget-friendly than hiring a permanent team. As with everything, there are pros & cons.

Product agencies look for financial stability. They aim for long-term partnerships, continuous projects or ongoing objectives. That gives them a chance to reap the results of their effort, and you get a partner who helps you push through blockers and achieve milestones outside your in-house skill stack. Commitment and trust are key here.

Plan for uncertainties, and keep your runway in clear view. Mid-project funding gaps can strain relationships and derail progress.

Not only that, share your financial status openly. Agencies can help you with fundraising, and they often do. They can tailor the project scope to attract investment or connect you to their VC contacts.

Make a Decision

Let's recap: you've assessed your current situation, defined your next milestone, and crafted a plan with key results. You're considering hiring a product agency to achieve this milestone.

Confident it's the right move? Great! If you have an agency in mind, reach out.

If you don't, take a look around. Many agencies showcase the work of their partners on LinkedIn. Ask around in your network; chances are you come across both satisfied and unsatisfied clients, giving you a great comparison of different quality and speed. Venture out into the outside world, where many agencies co-host business and startup events, so you can meet them face-to-face for a chat. Or reach out to us - at Sudolabs, we work with visionary companies to deliver high-quality products and bring their innovative business ideas to life.


Let's start a partnership together.

Let's talk

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