Time and Materials vs Fixed Fee vs Dedicated Teams: Which is Right for Your Project?

June 26, 2024
Reading time: 4 min

As the CEO of a software development company, I often encounter other CEOs and CTOs grappling with choosing the right engagement model for their projects. The three primary models are – Fixed-Price, Time & Material, and Dedicated Teams. Selecting the right one can significantly impact your project's success, budget, and timeline. Data from industry studies shows that businesses using the right engagement model for their projects see an average increase of around 25% in project efficiency and around 30% reduction in costs over the project lifecycle. Let's explore these models and find the ideal match for your needs.

Fixed-Price (Fixed Fee) Model : Predictability and Precision

The Fixed-Price model is straightforward: you agree on a set price for a specific scope of work. This model is best suits for projects with clearly defined requirements and minimal expected changes.


  • Predictable Budget: The main advantage is cost predictability. You know how much the project will cost upfront, making it easier to budget.
  • Defined Scope: A well-defined project scope ensures that both parties are aligned on what needs to be delivered.


  • Inflexibility: Fixed-price projects tend to be very rigid. Any changes to the scope can lead to renegotiations and delays.
  • Quality Risks: There is a risk that the focus on cost may compromise quality.

In our experience, the Fixed Fee model works exceptionally well for projects with a clear, unchanging vision. For example, we worked with an e-commerce company that needed a custom plugin. The clear requirements allowed us to deliver on time and within budget. However, when the client requested additional features midway, it required new negotiations, demonstrating the model's inflexibility.

Time & Materials Model: Flexibility and Adaptability

The Time & Materials (T&M) model is more flexible. You pay for the actual time and resources spent on the project. This model is ideal for projects where requirements are expected to evolve.


  • Flexibility: T&M allows for changes and adjustments throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Quality Focus: With no fixed price constraint, the team can focus on delivering high-quality results without cutting corners.


  • Budget Uncertainty: Costs can escalate if the project takes longer than expected.
  • Scope Creep: Without strict scope management, the project can expand beyond initial expectations.

T&M is perfect for dynamic projects. We’ve developed a mobile banking app for a fintech client with evolving requirements. The flexibility of the T&M model allowed us to incorporate continuous feedback and deliver a product that exceeded client expectations. However, the final cost was higher than initially anticipated due to the extended development time, underscoring the importance of budget management.

Dedicated Teams Model: Consistency and Control

With the Dedicated Teams model, you hire a team of developers who work exclusively on your project. This model is perfect for long-term projects and companies that need ongoing development support.


  • Full Control: You have complete control over the team and their work, similar to having an in-house team.
  • Consistency: The team’s deepening knowledge of your project over time can lead to better outcomes.


  • Management Overhead: You need to manage the team actively, which demands more executive attention.
  • Higher Initial Costs: Setting up a dedicated team can have higher initial costs due to recruitment expenses, infrastructure requirements, and long-term contract commitment.

*Notice that using outsourcing, especially offshore, companies like Smartexe can remove these disadvantages and make this model super attractive.

Dedicated Teams is great for companies looking for consistency and continuity. For instance, we supported a logistics company with a system overhaul. The dedicated team model allowed us to deeply integrate with the client's operations, leading to significant efficiency improvements. The client especially appreciated the long-term benefits of project continuity and team cohesion.

Final thoughts

Choosing the right engagement model depends on your project's needs and constraints. Fixed-price is excellent for well-defined projects, Time & Material offer flexibility for evolving requirements, and Dedicated Teams provide consistent long-term support.

At Smartexe, we’ve seen firsthand how each model can succeed when matched correctly with the project's nature and the client's expectations. If you’re still unsure which model is right for you, feel free to reach out – we’re here to help you navigate this crucial decision.