The global pandemic that hit the planet at the end of the previous year came as a shock to humankind which suddenly realized how desperately fragile modern civilization is under the attack of the invisible enemy. COVID-19 has radically changed not only our worldview and social mores but consumer practices and working habits as well. Many businesses and indeed entire industries were brought to a hiatus since entrepreneurs had to or chose to lay low hoping to weather the storm by sitting it out.
However, almost a year after its deleterious invasion, the plague shows no signs of abating, which bodes no good for the advocates of the let’s-wait-and-see strategy. The only alternative to this approach that turned out fallacious is to propel your business online increasingly leveraging the benefits of outstaffing.
Yet, recognition of this urgency for survival is accompanied by the incompatible (though understandable) reluctance of many organizations to invest in costly projects in precarious circumstances of the coronavirus-ridden world. Still, no matter how skeptical some entrepreneurs might have been only half a year ago, most of them have changed their attitude to doing business online, making up their minds to steer their company ship in that direction. This trend has been rapidly gathering momentum since August causing the boom of demand for remote workforce across various industries.
Our company deals with mobile and web development, and the lack of qualified personnel is one of the routine challenges that we face, which was only exacerbated in the times of the pandemic. We realize that staff or resource augmentation is a viable solution that, if used sensibly, can work for the IT sphere remarkably well.
What is Staff Augmentation?
When starting on a project, you may suddenly own up to it that the task may be a little more complicated than you have bargained for. Thus, the choice you face is either to forfeit the project incurring financial loss and reputational damage for your firm or engage an additional workforce to live up to the customer’s expectations. In the highly competitive business environment of today, you just can’t afford to adopt the first approach, so your only option is to hire qualified temporary employees ready to step into the breach, which is known as staff augmentation.
Besides just increasing your headcount to handle the work influx (like hiring more nurses when hospitals have a deluge of patients), staff augmentation is an excellent solution when you lack the requisite expertise to accomplish the task. Of course, you may resort to classical outsourcing and hire a team to do the job for you, but it is sensible only if it is going to take quite a time. But when it is a matter of a week or two, splurging on contracting an entire organization isn’t worth it.
Being at first mostly practiced in the IT realm, staff augmentation has spread across numerous industries, generating about $500 billion in 2019 alone. Yet, software development stays the core domain where staff augmentation is exceedingly efficient.
Benefits of IT Staff Augmentation
Being a seasoned player in the market, Deventor sees the weighty pros of IT staff augmentation.
1. Geography is No Bar Anymore
Wherever your office is located, you have access to a virtually unlimited workforce pool hailing from any place on Earth. Moreover, you may eventually end up having different members of the outstaffing team for your project working in various corners of the world for the common cause.
2. No Human Factor Interfering
Having adopted this model, you may forget about such obstacles as vacations or sick leaves of the employees, since it is your partner who is responsible for the committed and uninterrupted effort of the onboarded staff. In case any member does have problems of that kind, other outstaffers step in to replace those who didn’t make it. Besides, there is no downtime to pay for, which you would do if you had your in-house developers handle a project.
3. High Onboarding Speed
4. Cost Reduction
Having access to the labor market from different countries, you can always select a suitable person cost-wise. Moreover, some companies (like Deventor, for instance) offer discounts, in case you hire several employees. And you don’t pay for renting an office, utilities, hardware and software used by outstaffers, holiday bonuses, and office parties, to say nothing of investment in personnel training. All of these are the responsibility of your partner now.
5. Flexibility with Scalability
You can regulate the number of employees necessary for the completion of the project on the hoof, depending on different circumstances that may unexpectedly factor in. So you may always onboard an additional workforce in case of an overflow and scale the team down when the tide subsides. We know how important it is first hand.
One of our customers hired software developers from our team of experts, since, in spite of the considerable size of their own personnel, they couldn’t handle a project in-house. However, they had to scale down because of the spring outburst of COVID and we called off three developers. When in the late summer the company finally got back to the initial plans, all three of them joined the customer again, which considerably saved the company’s expenditures during the crisis.
6. Internal Acceptance
When your in-house team knows that the new employees will be with them as long as it takes to put out a fire, they won’t feel threatened that outstaffers could eventually oust them, so the cooperation between the two parties proceeds smoothly.
Despite the considerable boons that this model of remote cooperation brings, there are some risks of outstaffing that each consumer should be aware of before adopting such an approach.
IT Staff Augmentation Challenges
Having accumulated considerable experience in the field, Deventor knows a thing or two about the nitty-gritty of hiring an augmentation team. Our participation in staff augmentation chiefly centered around e-commerce software development, but we think we are right in believing that the related takeaways we have arrived at are pretty much universal for any IT sphere. Unfortunately, this experience wasn’t always a pleasant one, but by applying the error and trial method we have figured out major outstaffing challenges that lay in wait for novices in the province.
Expertise and Commitment of Outstaffers
Sometimes, having opted for the staff augmentation model, a company complains of the disappointing outcome that is much worse than what they have expected.
Addressing the challenge:
Meticulous selection of developers is the only way to forestall possible adverse consequences of this kind.
It all starts inspecting the portfolio where you can observe what projects have been implemented by them. Our advice is to pay close attention to software features developed by your prospective partners, since having general skills, devs can lack experience in some more specialized domain.
Then comes the interview where you should specify your expectations in advance. This setting frames and shaping vistas to conquer is crucial since your partner is likely to have a cooperation pattern established by their previous clients that may significantly differ from your stricter or, on the contrary, more lenient requirements. So, being aware of what you expect from them, your IT staffing provider will feel more confident as to what they are up to.
Once you have hired an expert, your selection procedure is far from being over because staff augmentation is the approach that allows you to change your mind as to the employee you have onboarded. The first couple of weeks are the period that will determine whether the new person is a good (albeit a temporary) fit. Assessing their hard and soft skills, as well as the ability to work in a team, will be vital in your ultimate decision to continue cooperation with him (her) or try to find another person that will suit you to a tee.
Read more about factors to look for in your outsourced team.
This is one of the most serious risks of IT staff augmentation. Since companies resort to outstaffing mostly when they are pressed for time, developers who offer their services tend to exploit this urgency and agree to any job hoping to make sense of it later. If such teams number up to half a dozen specialists, the chances are that there will be at least one junior among them whose performance is expected to be closely monitored by his more experienced colleagues (which rarely happens, in fact). Or, the outstaffers may be a random collection of developers having no preliminary experience of working as a team.
Addressing the challenge:
It is not the company that you will work with, but individuals. So it makes sense to deal with each new member piecemeal and speak to them individually. What you should aim for is getting them interested and excited about the project. Moreover, they should be aware of the quality control procedure you practice. Typically, we use the three-stage approach consisting of code review, testing, and explicit technical workflow formulation.
Possible communication issues are among the top cons of IT staff augmentation since in the remote work model they are likely to eventually crop up. Such issues may be caused by great differences between the time zones, inadequate command of English, or inability of the parties to get their message through. As a result, the successful performance of the project is in question.
Addressing the challenge:
The workflow must be discussed and agreed upon. In our experience, the customers who have a vague idea of how to make it work effectively often let us choose the communication manner and channels we are comfortable with at our discretion. Deventor conventionally recommends to employ Jira for project management, Slack for communication per se, and GitLab as a repository and CI/CD processes. All these tools can be seamlessly integrated to form an excellent business communication suite.
Also, it is important to establish rules of rapport where routine communication sessions should happen at least twice a week. In such a case, the customer can keep a close eye on what is going on and the developers can report problems in case they appear.
The mentioned challenges are the major concerns of companies who opt for staff augmentation, but other hitches and complications may arise as well, so let us provide expert consulting services to help you out of any predicament. Moreover, our employees are always available to augment your staff and step in at any stage of the project if you feel the need for high-quality expertise in software development.
Staff augmentation is a flexible model of solving the immediate problem of hand shortage. Being somewhat tricky to employ, it is still widely practiced in the IT world, since it is cost-effective and fast in implementation.