Apart from many other things the pandemic has taken away from us, it has forced executives to rethink the concept of control over a company. In times of relative stability, they used to keep an eye on their in-house teams, plan their activities in advance, and get predictable outcomes. In this context, staff augmentation sounded like inviting aliens to invade the Earth — who knew what they would bring and if it would work at all.
Then, the lockdown came, and in-house teams suddenly went off the radar. You probably know what happened next. It turned out that their efficiency didn’t slow down, but it somehow increased. 77 percent of remote employees confirmed they became more productive while working from home. Dealing with permanent telecommuting wasn’t that bad, and more businesses started looking towards outsourcing.
In September 2020, McKinsey asked 190 C-level specialists about budget allocation in the upcoming year, and 63 percent confirmed they were intended to invest the same amount of money in IT staff augmentation, or even more.
How to ensure staff augmentation will work for your business
The truth is that crisis is just the best time to leverage staff augmentation as outsourced teams are flexible, pre-trained for dealing with uncertainty and delivering measurable business value. These skills have the potential to bring great opportunities for any business but only if used wisely. We’re here to reveal what “wisely” means regarding the implementation of staff outsourcing solutions.
Prepare a clear strategy
Most companies attract outsourced talents when they have a particular problem that their in-house teams do not have enough expertise or skills to deal with. “Particular” is a keyword in this statement, as a clear understanding of your needs eliminates most risks and ensures staff augmentation will be cost-efficient.
While understanding a problem is necessary, it’s not enough. Imagine a problem is a starting point, a dot. If you have just one dot, a team will have too many variations in drawing a line. You need one more dot — and the destination will be set. This second dot is your goal, what you want to achieve.
Once you have this line, you can build a sector around it: this sector will define results that are not perfect but acceptable. Having this canvas, you will be able to evaluate the results and make sure that your team is moving in the right direction.
This leads us to the second condition of efficient IT staff augmentation.
Stay involved in the project
This recommendation presupposes dividing our line into smaller segments for further measurability. During the crisis, the business landscape is unstable, new factors arise all the time, influencing your priorities. It makes great sense to double-check if the selected route still matches current objectives. This implies regular verification of what tasks the staff augmentation team is dealing with and checking if you can make any adjustments to these tasks due to ever-changing business realities. In this way, the progress the team makes will be aligned with the business goals.
There are many ways of achieving the goal even within the sector of desirable scenarios. Set more dots on your line to make sure the way your company takes is the shortest one.
Above, we’ve talked about your regular input into the problem-solving process. There’s also a responsibility on the augmented team’s side. They have to contribute to the project and deliver timely results that meet the overall business strategy. Staying on track of their efficiency is not an easy task as it requires involvement, a deep understanding of business priorities, and excellent project management skills.
It can be a good investment to hire a top-level project coordinator who will become a mediator between you and the staff augmentation team.
Encourage teams to exchange their expertise
“What is staff augmentation? Why are all these people here doing our job? Does this mean we are ineffective?” These are the questions that may bother your in-house employees. Explain to them that outsourced talents are not their rivals. On the contrary, they can enrich their expertise and learn new skills working side-by-side with outsourced specialists. 2020 has shown a team is a driving unit of performance.
Help people who work with you feel like one: you can organize sync-ups where invited specialists and in-house employees will discuss the project they implement together, sharing their perspectives and opinions. First, this helps build trust between them; second, it ensures the augmented team integrates better.
Ensure project scalability
One significant thing about staff augmentation is that you call it cost-efficient only if it delivers long-term value. The project that was outsourced stays in the company when the partnership comes to its end. And what’s next? You can either continue working with the staff augmentation team to support the project or assign it to your in-house team.
In this case, you will need to be sure the knowledge transfer process is prescribed by the contract. The more precise and detailed the transfer sessions will be, the less time it will take for your in-house employees to own the project and scale it if needed. That’s why you should be very careful while choosing a vendor and invest in building relationships between the teams.
Choose trusted staff outsourcing solutions
Today’s staff outsourcing solutions market is as crowded as malls on Christmas Eve in the pre-pandemic world. To choose the right vendor, you need to pay attention to the following:
- Recommendations. Listen to your partners who already have experience with staff outsourcing solutions. Consider their feedback about the skills of the team they have worked with, their level of satisfaction with the processes they’ve built while working together, and the results they got at the end of their partnership. Their experience might set a good example for you and will help avoid numerous pitfalls.
- Proven record. Sometimes, success stories with clear business metrics and numbers tell us more than thousands of words. Pay attention to the staff outsourcing solutions that have delivered long-term results and can provide cases of successful collaboration with other companies in your or related industries.
- Your intuition and experiences. In the long run, all that will really matter is if you feel comfortable working with these particular specialists. Make a few calls and communicate in person to understand their values and corporate culture. Check how open they are to discussing terms of collaboration. This will prepare a fruitful soil for dealing with further challenges.
Once you follow these recommendations, you will see augmented teams more like “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” than “Alien.” It’s much less scary and more productive to deal with aliens with whom you have a common language and shared values. Establishing contact is the first essential step; after you’ve joined forces, it’s a question of strategy and tactic to navigate the crisis.
Make sure you’ve chosen the vendor you trust and prepare your team for the changes: convince them that staff augmentation is a wise move you all will benefit from.