There is no doubt that the recent global lockdown pushed economies to accept remote workflows as one of the basic business models. Nonetheless, the trend is not all that new. The so-called ”digital nomads” who have been bouncing around megalopolises over the last two decades constitute the remote workforce. They are in growing demand in what is known as outstaffing, or staff augmentation.
The skyrocketing development of communication technologies allows many people to change their jobs without a move in the physical world. Today, business processes in numerous industries are managed by third-party entities. The outsourcing market is expected to reach $405.6 billion by 2027.
The specific nature of the IT industry makes it one of the most appropriate sectors for remote labor. Hiring virtual teams is a routine for thousands of software development projects throughout the world. However, this fact does not mean that IT staff augmentation challenges are left behind. A neglectful approach to the selection of an outstaffing provider can entail many business risks. The present post tells how to make sure the IT staff augmentation is beneficial for your business.
Benefits of IT Staff Augmentation
When the COVID pandemic struck, many companies faced a dilemma: on the one hand, it was necessary to move forward with purely online workflows. It was particularly important for e-commerce projects whose popularity jumped up due to the lockdown. On the other hand, uncertainty in the global economy posed limits on project budgets. That’s why there was nothing weird about the increased demand for remote developers we have been observing since August 2020. Labor source augmentation cannot be more relevant now - it is perfectly fitting for such circumstances.
There are many arguments on why staff augmentation contributes to contemporary software development. Let’s list the basic ones.
When people work in virtual environments where no physical borders, geography becomes irrelevant. Going online makes a labor market expand to a global size. The pros of IT staff augmentation are clear in this case: the wider choice on the international labor market you have, the easier it is to select the most appropriate developer. It doesn't matter how far your employees are located from you if they work via the internet.
Vacations, sick days, downtimes, and many other tough aspects of traditional employment are relegated to either the developers or outstaffing providers. As the related expenses are paid by partners, you can save some extra money on decreasing operational costs. Besides, your project schedule doesn’t suffer from unforeseeable circumstances. You can always keep exactly as many developers within the project as it actually requires, no redundant labor costs affect your financial plans.
It can be increased many times over, as the providers of staff augmentation usually keep some staff on standby. This can be called a package offer: you don’t need to hire developers one by one. Besides, if you hire a group of developers, you can expect a discount on hourly rates (as offered by Softloft).
Improved budget management
The benefits of IT staff augmentation imply significantly reduced development costs in comparison with the traditional in-house development. With all other equal things, you can save on the expenses that become optional with outstaffing such as office rent, software, equipment, furniture, utilities, taxes, etc. Besides, you don’t invest in the training of employees as your outstaffing partner is responsible for it. This is exactly what the famous business maxim “Earn More Do Less” is about.
With staff augmentation, you can literally “pump-and-dump” your projects upon request. Nothing prevents you from refusing unnecessary staff at any time. This is hardly affordable for any traditional company with an in-house team. One of our partners, a large Magento development company, asked to put three of our developers on standby when the initial period of uncertainty due to the lockdown happened. In August, when the situation improved, the developers got back to work. The company suffered no loss from the forced idle time of the developers.
Remote Staff Challenges
The process of hiring remote staff has several nuances worth knowing. Remote staff challenges are not numerous in general, but the specific risks and pitfalls of outstaffing become clear only with practice. Some cons of IT staff augmentation are myths, other ones have a real foundation. It is important not to confuse imaginary drawbacks of staff augmentation with real challenges that you can, nonetheless, easily avoid if you approach the issue competently.
1. Developers’ skills
Challenge: the discrepancy of the expected developers' professional level developers to the actual one. Sometimes remote developers do not match the technical complexity of a project while being highly skilled at the same time.
Solution: there should be a rigorous selection of developers conducted via carefully prepared job interviews. Often happens that a well-trained specialist keeps following specific working patterns from previous projects that differ from what is expected in the present one. Previous experience is crucial in terms of both hard skills and soft skills. Professional certificates won’t be surplus if they are available in the given IT domain. Magento certification is a norm, for instance.
Besides, it is important to explain your requirements in detail before hiring new employees. Monitoring their performance during the first 2-3 weeks is also useful for understanding how well they match the project.
2. Poor communication
Challenge: poor communication between customers, managers, and developers. When customers face obstacles in explaining how, when, and what should be done by developers, don’t expect a project to go well.
Solution: it is crucially important to adjust the working environment from the very beginning. Communication channels, reporting tools, workflow patterns, and anything else relevant to communication within your working environment must be set up for efficient project management. There are a lot of means in this field, but we prefer the following ones:
- Jira for project management
- Slack for team communication
- GitLab for repositories and CI/CD processes.
All channels are typically mutually integrable.
Besides, it is worth talking to your team at least twice a week to understand which direction the project is moving.
3. Quality issues
Challenge: insufficient quality of the project. Sometimes, staff augmentation providers are in a hurry to get some “burning orders” without a clear vision of how to fulfill them correctly. They hope to figure everything out along the way. When the team is built in haste, not every member is ready to work as is expected. Sometimes developers who are perfect as individual professionals face problems in teamwork.
Solution: you will work with people, not with a company. Do your best to figure out the personal goals and inclinations of your staff. Hire a professional interviewer, if necessary. One of the best ways to mitigate the risks of IT staff augmentation comes to integrating your new employees well. Get them excited about your project - they will be motivated this way.
Besides, you should set up the criteria of quality control and find the methods to achieve them. Regular code reviews, QA testing, clear tech workflows, as well as all the other compulsory procedures in your domain should be included in your project management.
Before making a decision to hire remote staff, it is always useful to assess the balance between the benefits of outstaffing and the possible risks it may bring to your business. Try to stay objective without falling into biases and myths about IT staff augmentation challenges. In many cases, their danger is highly exaggerated. The present days of recurrent lockdowns clearly hint a paradigm shift happening right now in the global labor market. Sooner or later the majority of IT enterprises will have to accept staff augmentation as a decent antidote against possible stagnation covering in-house development due to pandemics.
A reliable outstaffing provider is what every customer needs to begin with. Contact us now to get started on your outstaffing journey safely!