If you’ve ever felt like it’s time to either change around or scale up your development team, you’ve probably considered staff augmentation as an option. It can seem like a daunting task at first, but we’re here to walk you through how to find the right fit for your needs as there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Step 1: Forecast Your Needs
We can’t say this enough; timing is everything in this field. We understand that because we’ve been in this a long time. Technologies change, demands arise and staffing is a variable you can’t always control. This is why we recommend mapping out your technology and development needs for the year and having a team you can trust to fill-in when needed. Since timing is so poignant, it may even work for your business to also have quarterly strategy sessions to discuss the shorter-term technology fulfillment needs. When scoping out upcoming needs, it is beneficial to determine if this is a short-term project that is best managed separately from current commitments or is a longer-term engagement where a specific skill set and experience can be integrated into your team and leveraged beyond an initial milestone. If the latter, then staff augmentation is the better model for your needs.
Step 2: Determine Your Budget
In the increasingly competitive software development market, hiring engineers in-house on a full-time basis can be expensive and time-consuming, not to mention the overhead that comes with managing employees. If it is unclear if the development support or budget will be needed or available in perpetuity, hiring outside of the organization may be a good choice. Contractors can be highly expensive but effective for a specificity they may bring to the decision making and implementation approach, especially in areas such as security and compliance. The benefits of contractors for long-term product development can be leveraged, at a more budget-friendly cost, through a nearshore agency. This will often mean that you can have more than one new developer working on the project at hand, or helping in the long-term with your development needs. Regardless of what type of additional help you may need for the year, having a predetermined budget readily available will make the process much smoother.
Step 3: Consider the Quality
Having a developer or team of software engineers that you trust is one way to ensure a more successful outcome of your needs. The offshore (European and Indian companies) versus nearshore (developers based in Latin America) debate will continue on in this industry, but a lot of your decision-making may come down to quality versus price, or weighing out a combination of the two components. Quality developers can take a jumbled mess of previous code and craftily cook up something incredible that you can use for years to come. They can recommend and follow coding standards and best practices, deliver clean code and be cognizant of the scalability of the product as well as the maintenance costs. Cheaper models often utilize less experienced developers who may have challenges integrating with your teams due to time zone differential and communication to name just a couple. Often the depth of knowledge, the breadth of understanding of the software development lifecycle and the cultural fit can be determined in a brief assessment interview.
Step 4: Interview
While you aren’t hiring a new member of your permanent staff, you are making a decision on someone (or multiple people) that you and your team will be engaging with daily for an indefinite amount of time. It is important that they not only have the requisite skills to complete the technical tasks of the job but that they are able to effectively communicate and assimilate into the team. Nearshore staff augmentation candidates, like those of ours in Costa Rica, have strong cultural ties to the United States which makes it easier to comprehend idioms and expectations during collaboration. Consider asking questions about process and escalation, how the engineer escalates issues or responds to changing requirements. Share with them your team’s preference for engagement, such as daily stand-up as part of Scrum ceremonies and Slack chats. Begin with interviewing the engineer that will serve as either the full-time team lead or part-time technical lead in order to get some confidence in the leadership that will serve to drive the project forward and support the engineers daily so that the burden doesn’t always fall to you.
Keep in mind that it is normal to ask a lot of questions, as these developers are potentially going to be an extension of your team.
Step 5: Implement Your New Staff Augmentation Plan
Once you have chosen the development company and the particular staff augmentation team members with whom you’ll be working, it’s time to implement your overall plan. Make sure to have clearly outlined goals and timelines readily available for all members of your team, and to be confident in checking in regularly with your outsourced team members. A great development company will outsource talented developers who are confident in bringing you updates, and who are proactive in their approach to working with your team. It is important before engaging with a vendor to understand the onboarding process and get clarity on how the team will ramp up, as well as knowing what resources are available to ensure that access, integration and early deliverables overcome any blockers and meet or, better yet, exceed expectations. You should never have to question where your team is at with your timelines.
If you’d like more information on staff augmentation services from First Factory, contact us to have a conversation.