In a previous article, we discussed IT staff augmentation — what it is (and is not), the problems it can solve, and use cases that may prompt organizations to choose this popular outsourcing option.
In this article, we’re going to assume you’ve already read the previous article about staff augmentation and have decided it’s the right solution for your current needs. Now, we’ll get more tactical. Here are the steps you need to take to ensure you get the most value from your IT staff augmentation engagement.
Preparing to Benefit From IT Staff Augmentation
The most important steps you can take to ensure the engagement goes well involve preparing well ahead of time.
Step 1: Identifying Your Need
The first step is to thoroughly identify and analyze your needs. What exactly is the gap you need an IT pro to fill? The more information you can provide, the more effectively the IT staff augmentation provider can choose the right person at the right price to perfectly meet that need.
Here are some things to consider:
- Where is your current IT team struggling to keep up with the demand?
- What type of work is backing up in the backlog or consistently facing quality issues?
- Which current or planned projects have the best chance of moving the needle in terms of reaching strategic milestones or achieving business goals?
By assessing the current state of your team’s work and looking ahead to what you’d ideally like to see accomplished, you should be able to come up with a well-defined gap that can be filled by IT staff augmentation.
Step 2: Defining the Role and Requirements
Once you have a clear understanding of the problems you need to solve, spend some time determining what you want and need in the individual who will be joining your team. Remember, when you utilize staff augmentation, you will be responsible for managing and directing this individual, just like any other team member.
Again, the more detailed you can be, the better chance the provider has to meet or exceed your expectations. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What specific project or initiative do I want this individual to focus on?
- What is the timeline of the project?
- What skills must this person possess to accomplish the tasks I need to be done?
- What level of autonomy vs. direct supervision am I comfortable with?
- What is my preferred and maximum budget for this project? And what factors will or will not justify paying more than the minimum?
- To what extent do I expect this individual to collaborate and communicate with me, their direct supervisor, and the rest of the team?
- Is a language barrier or time zone difference an important factor in my mind?
The more staff members you’re considering bringing on, the more vital each of these answers will be. It’s important to set clear expectations upfront so there are no surprises or disappointments down the road. And, if any of the questions are hard for you to answer, a reputable team augmentation partner will have the knowledge and experience to help.
Step 3: Arranging for management of the engagement
Finally, you should focus your attention on deciding who’s going to be responsible for managing the new team member(s) and what will be expected of them.
While it seems logical to just tap your existing IT manager(s) to take on this new staff, that’s not always going to be an automatic success. After all, you’re bringing new people in to fill gaps in the current team. The new staff members may have skill sets unfamiliar to your managers, or they may be using technology and tools the manager hasn’t used before. Additionally, managing remote workers from across the globe requires a commitment to communication that your current manager(s) may not be used to.
These aren’t necessarily deal breakers, but they should be considered and discussed frankly with the prospective manager.
If you find that effectively managing your augmented team may present a challenge, you may want to consider a variation on staff augmentation usually called Managed IT Services. Most IT staff augmentation providers also offer this option, in which the provider takes on the full responsibility for managing and executing the work done by your augmented staff. While the cost will be higher and you are trading some direct control over the process, the time, expense, and effort saved — and the peace of mind you gain — may very well be worth it.
But that’s a topic for another article.
Choosing a Tech Staff Augmentation Partner
Once you’re fully prepared, it’s time to reach out to tech staff augmentation providers. The most important thing to remember at this point is that not all staff augmentation partners are equal.
Here are just a few of the differences you’ll find as you begin vetting potential partners:
- Years of experience (both the company itself and the staff members on offer)
- The breadth of staff experience
- Areas of specialization vs. “no limits” options
- Contractual requirements
- Service guarantees
- Where they source talent and the pros and cons of hiring in those markets
As you are comparing providers, don’t get hung up strictly on price. It’s important to understand that paying just a little more to work with an experienced, reputable provider pays huge dividends.
Do your due diligence beforehand. Ask around to see who industry colleagues recommend and why. Research each company online to determine how long they’ve been offering staff augmentation services, what areas they specialize in, and what their reputation seems to be in the eyes of past customers. Read case studies and, if possible, reach out to the clients described to get their unvarnished opinions.
When you’re talking with each provider, be sure to cover these key points:
- What is your recruitment and vetting process?
- What will you do if a member of your team leaves during our engagement?
- Can you provide proof of your staff’s claims in terms of skills, experience, and certifications?
- Which of your past clients can I speak to?
- How soon can you have staff on the job? (Requires that you share the information you’ve prepared ahead of time.)
- What additional support, management, or consulting services do you offer beyond staff augmentation?
And, of course, you’ll want to know about the price. Once you’ve compared all the providers available to you, if you happen to decide two of them are completely equal in all other respects, the lower price may be the deciding factor.
The most important thing about choosing an IT staff augmentation partner is that you’re comfortable with entrusting them with this important responsibility. If you choose wisely, you should have a long and fruitful relationship ahead of you. If not, you’ll likely regret your decision almost immediately.
How Will You Proceed?
Now that we’ve discussed all the tactical ins and outs of pursuing IT staff augmentation, the next step is up to you. How will you proceed?
To get started with IT staff augmentation or managed IT services today, contact our Global Talent Services specialists to discuss all your options. Let us be the first option you consider and we’re confident, eventually, we’ll be the last one on your list.