Staff Augmentation


6 myths about IT Staff Augmentation

Laura Villa Méndez

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Staff Augmentation has become a quite popular way of outsourcing in the last few years. However, there are still common beliefs about Staff Augmentation that are wrong and don't allow organizations to see the benefits of this smart and strategic solution that allows them to rapidly scale in specific projects.

A common solution in organizations is to redistribute the workload to cover the missing area, but when doing so, they’re just eliminating the regular tasks they have, without obtaining the desired final results. Here is where Staff Augmentation is a perfect solution to fill in the gaps that exist in between the abilities that the organization has and those missing. but before explaining why this model is an excellent solution to have in mind, first some myths have to be refuted.

#1 Staff Augmentation is too expensive

Employers think that since staff augmentation is usually paid by the hour instead of a salary it turns out to be more expensive, but that’s not true. There’s also the belief that the company does not save money by hiring one or several developers for a project, nevertheless, when comparing the hourly rate that the augmented staff could get and the permanent staff’s salary, it can turn out to be tricky not to see the full picture.

In the case of staff augmentation, there are internal costs that can be avoided and that in a fixed contract scenario, are needed to seek for, hire and train a new member of the company. When outsourcing with an IT Staff Augmentation solution company, the business does not have to pay for these additional worker’s benefits because they will remain employees of the service provider agency. Their costs are included in the service fees but with time, they continue to be less expensive than hiring a permanent employee.

What expenses is the employer saving by using Staff Augmentation?

The expenses an employer can save include fixed salaries, legal and employment benefits, premiums, corporate aids, and social security benefits. Using IT Staff Augmentation allows an organization to grow their work force with specific professionals for particular tasks without having the necessity to incur in long-range or undefined term recruitment.

The developers hired will be available for the company without additional costs or leaves. The fees of these dedicated resources are not higher than the total cost of an employee.

#2 There is no control over the projects

Another myth among companies is that when hiring a dedicated development team for a project, there will be no control over it and the result won’t be the one expected. It is believed that the company that offers the staff augmentation services will be in charge of the authority in the project and will make the important decisions.

If there is a project director from the hiring company, he will be able to be in direct contact with the developers and their dedicated team, which is why he will have complete control over the course and development of his project.

In fact, having incorporated developers, who will work exclusively for the contracting company, the commitment with the project and the company’s vision will be impeccable. Also, the company could count with different professionals, experts in programming, development, UX designers, upright staff that contribute in a positive way with the counseling and digital modernization of a project.

When a company wants to augment their staff, the different types of service there are need to be taken into account, and in this way, decide which one better suits their project, up next we will review some of them.

Staff Augmentation vs Outsourcing

Outsourcing is the way in which businesses subcontract services through another company that deals with a planned or existing activity that is or could be performed internally, which sometimes implies a transfer of employees and assets from one company to the other. Outsourcing is a great manager’s ally when it simplifies the quick team growth, in many cases, it is possible to expand a team through third parties without involving human resources.

When subcontracting a project, businesses hire a third party that is in charge of the totality of the project. That third party is in charge of hiring the staff, management and the rendering of the contracted services. Common examples include the subcontracting of the development or the support to an external provider.

Staff Augmentation is an experience within the Outsourcing model. On one hand, Staff Augmentation gives the company more control over the recruitment and management of a project, and on the other hand, Outsourcing gives them less control, due to that in this service the totality of a project can be contracted to a third party.

Staff Augmentation vs Dedicated Team

These two services are part of the Outsourcing model. However, the addition of a dedicated team to a company works more like an internal distributed team than a temporary provider, which means the clients must be prepared to invest time and effort in encouraging a relationship with the provider and build the external team in the general business strategy. The partnership with a development dedicated team is the most suited to reach the long term strategic goals, while a staff augmentation works best for short-term projects.

Given that it’s a cohesive team that is being hired as part of a company and not a grupo of independent contractors, having clear communication lines inside the team saves the company headaches due to possible inconveniences with communication over the course of the project.

Staff Augmentation vs Managed Services

A common misunderstanding has to do with the staff augmentation and another Outsourcing related approach: managed services. This last refers to a final deliverable, possibly with a qualification of definitive nature. With Managed services you subcontract management responsibilities and a strategic method meant to improve operations and reduce costs. The managed services model is attractive for companies because it implies a non traditional model based on the levels of service, results and deliverables. It also increases agility and allows an organization to take advantage of the specialized abilities.

Staff Augmentation refers to the job description and it is paid according to time and materials. A member of the augmented staff could join a company to write lines of code for a specific application and they would be paid by the hour. While a managed services contractor would be hired to create that specific application and meet a set of KIPs, they would get paid once the project is finalized.

#3 Communication and management issues are created

Since it is usual that these services are offered with offshore dedicated teams that are located in a different geographical area than the subcontracting company it is believed that there will be a restriction of matching time zones, which will prevent the communication to be carried out in a proper way.

The technological tools of communication and project management, without a doubt can give a correct direction to this common myth. The business and those in charge of the project will always be able to be connected to the employees, leaving that about remote work being an obstacle aside. Communication can be very effective with the tools and applications that are correctly implemented to the project.

What tools allow having proper communication?
  • Confluence: it is a tool that allows to create a knowledge base. In other words, only one fountain of truth. It is a team work space, where knowledge and collaboration are allies. Through dynamic pages, this tool offers the team a space to create, capture and collaborate with any project or idea. These pages are stored in places that help organize and share work, that way, all the members of a team have access and can display the content and the necessary information to do their job. Confluence can be used by teams of any kind and size. It allows quick decisions to be made and to coordinate teams in a more efficient way. We can also find tools like Notion, an application that works as an all-in-one work space, oriented towards individuals as well as teams. It allows you to take notes, write documents, organize tasks, create a database, manage projects and create spreadsheets without having to use another software. On the other hand, there is Gitbook, a platform for creation, documentation, digital writing and content publication. It is mainly used for writing documentation (library, API, tools, etc) or knowledge bases.

  • Slack: it is a messaging and instant communication platform based on channels. Through Slack, teams can work together in a more effective way and centralize their communication. It has it’s mobile app, which permits to save time on message delivery, it also allows you to connect tools and software services to have access to any type of content and files on a quicker way (Google Drive, Dropbox, Skype, Jira, etc.). Conversations are organized by private and public channels, channels can be created as many as the number of departments, projects or offices that the organization has.

  • Jira: it is a work management tool for all types of cases of use, from the requirements management and test cases to agile software development. Jira Software Cloud can be set up to adapt to any kind of project and teams can start with a template or create their own workflow personalized for them. It also allows a follow up through the incidents or tasks presented on the boards, due to that each work needs to cover the workflow steps until its completion. Teams can personalize the permissions to the administrators and determine who can see and who can perform specific actions. There are also other work management tools such as Asana and Trello. The first, allows teams to share, plan, organize and follow the process of the tasks that each member is working on. On Asana it is also possible to create different work spaces of the teams in which new projects can be added as well. Trello, on the other hand, is a tool based on boards that contain lists displayed in a horizontal way so that anyone can appreciate everything there is to a project. The items within the lists, called cards, can be dragged and let go in other lists or be reorganized. Trello is used as a project and tasks manager for the personal field as well as the team's management.

#4 Time and cultural differences affect the project

Another myth, related to the previous one, references the time difference in between the contracting company and the developers that have been chosen to work on the project because usually, they are located in different geographical regions.

Nevertheless, this myth has to be contradicted. An example of this, is when a company located in the United States ugments their staff to work with a development team in Latin America, actually, one of the main advantages that it has is the time zone similarity. Sometimes, when the real time collaboration with the team is necessary, the minimum differences make the work easier and more convenient.

Culture, on the other hand, even though there can be exceptions, is not a reason for conflict. Before deciding if hiring the developers, the company can talk to them and clearly explain the internal culture and in that way, determine how the developers will adjust to it. The work time also needs to be determined, whereby the staff will work according to the convenient time zone.

#5 You do not get the same quality

It is believed that by contracting IT staff augmentation services the productivity will be reduced and the quality of the remote work executed by the developers is not as efficient, communication will be stuck and the project will not turn out as expected.

In successful cases there has been evidence that the staff augmentation supports the operating efficiency by permitting flexible work platforms. Also, the employers that work in a remote way for their project, are found to be more responsible and dedicated to their job. As stated before, companies that offer these offshore services work on different shifts, they adapt to their work and time zone, and also offer a fresher and alternative vision of the processes that will allow them to obtain at the end, an impeccable quality.

Recruitment processes are also essential to ensure and demonstrate the quality of the professionals or candidates to augment the hiring company’s team. These processes are based on testing a person's different abilities using tests for each one of the sides necessary to cover the job. The first step is to identify the client’s requests, followed by a profile evaluation, social skills, technology and languages tests, commonly, English.

Companies that offer IT staff augmentation services, personally interview each resource (engineer, developer, etc.) that is needed to augment a dedicated team. These teams also use agile project management methods that allow transparency at work, providing better results. Since the hired staff are located in their comfortable space, they work better and therefore, obtain better results.

#6 It is too risky and there are no long term benefits

A Barrier that seems to be in the way of a company’s decision of augmenting their IT staff, whether is a developer or a dedicated team, is thinking that by doing it, they would be taking a chance and their project will not be taken seriously or with the responsibility it requires.

Before hiring an IT resource, a pre-selection and selection process is done, those who adjust accordingly to the profile needed and those who are trained to carry out the job. All the tests needed are done to choose the right developer or developers. This process is done by the company that offers the Staff Augmentation services, the contracting company won’t have to worry about it.

Staff Augmentation also offers long term benefits by hiring staff to cover the business needs that are immediate and specific. Even though short terms projects are ideal for temporary employees that only need to work during a fixed amount of hours, this also implies a long term benefit, because companies can identify abilities or areas in which their permanent workforce needs to help and can adapt the staff augmentation to cover the needs, which gives the company much more control of the projects as well as the expenses in general.

How to break these myths?

A way of breaking the myths and that companies start considering the IT Staff Augmentation model as an effective solution for their projects is that they conduct the right process of review and choice of the staff augmentation model that they need, clarify the concepts and the types of services of staff augmentation that exist and, in this way, decide which is the one that better suits their requests and expectations.

After doing the review, they must also know how to find the ideal partner for the IT staff augmentation, There are some actions that the company can carry on with when seeking a subcontracting partner. In the first place, they can check the online reviews and compare different companies that offer this service. From that, they can verify if the company has the experience to find the resources that meet the requirements.

Afterwards it is important to review the contracting techniques that each company implements and which of them the subcontracting company would feel more comfortable with. Finally, a company will be able to break the myths when encountering a reliable IT staff augmentation partner that creates enough trust to implement this model on their projects.

Staff Augmentation benefits:

  • It offers companies a great flexibility when it comes to growing or reducing their teams, without having to worry about recruiting, hiring and the carrying the expenses that full time employees imply. The resources hired are managed by the staff augmentation providers.

  • The additional staff works directly with their internal team, which gives managers or directors a direct oversight about how the temporary subcontracting staff integrate and cooperate with their employees. Also, the resources a company subcontracts are only going to work in a short time project in a determined time frame, will be focused on only one goal.

  • With staff augmentation, a company can quickly fill in the gaps of the internal abilities with external talent. And if implemented correctly, the staff augmentation model can also save the company money by reducing the general costs and the expenses associated with hiring and training of new employees on a fixed term.

  • Companies can escalate their business quicker and in a more rentable way with staff augmentation than if they hire full time employees. Most of the industries, a company’s workload changes constantly and the temporary staff is the right solution to manage the current demands and future projects, which means starting more projects without compromising the quality.

  • When a company hires a professional to be part of its team for some weeks or months, this allows it to have a fresh and objective look to a lot of the corporate processes with which it is involved directly. The company can have a new and innovative perspective in its projects.

  • It allows it to recruit workers that count with the necessary and adequate experience so perform an specific task, reducing training and assistance time frames, which also allows them to be assigned with projects that require trust and security. A developer that arrives in a team within the staff augmentation model, with skills and abilities for specific tasks, will provide quality results in a timely manner.

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