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Staff Augmentation For Success - Part 1 of 2: You Drive the Outcome

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Staff Augmentation For Success

Part 1 of 2: You Drive the Outcome

Staff augmentation is a type of outsourcing in which you extend your company’s internal team temporarily or for extended periods, by essentially “borrowing” specialized employees from other companies. Many of these other companies are dedicated staff augmentation agencies whose business model is hiring great people, working with other businesses, and placing this selected talent on their clients teams.

This approach has many benefits for the clients compared to, say, hiring new full time employees or freelancers. You free yourself by handing over most administrative hiring details to the staff augmentation agency. You can also have more confidence that the person you are hiring is good at what they do because they are vetted. The candidates you receive from the staff augmentation agency will usually have already gone through a rigorous hiring process. You don’t need to worry about insurance, benefits, or any other strings attached to hiring a new employee in-house. And, finally, your turnover will be less than if you hired freelancers.

Even so, the staff augmentation approach is not without its hazards. In this two-part series, I’ll offer some tips to help you be more successful when growing your teams using staff augmentation services. I focus on software development teams specifically, but most tips are applicable to any industry.

All my advice hinges on one fact: you are the most important element in the staff augmentation model. You share equal responsibility with the developers and staff augmentation partners for making this model work. Once you know your part, you’ll have the foundation to build the right team and give them everything they need to succeed.

 Too many companies seem to suffer from the delusion that if they just hire the right people then everything will fall into place. The truth is, your teams will only produce good results if they know exactly what results are expected. And all expectations start with you. You need to be clear about what you are looking for and to communicate when those expectations change. This is as true for the staff augmentation model as it is for working with freelancers and building your team in-house.

In addition to finding engineers who have mastered the technology, you need to ensure that the team also has good quality control and project management. Do not try to cut corners. And, finally, be sure that they have clear instructions and an appropriate set of tools for coordinating their work with the rest of the team.

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Choose The Right Staff Augmentation Firm

Not all staff augmentation firms are alike. Choosing the right one is more important than you might at first realize. You need to do your due diligence when choosing a staff augmentation agency. The benefits of the staff augmentation model are clear, but it will only bear fruit if you choose a provider that takes an active interest in the success of their clients.

Some agencies take a larger role in onboarding their talent to your team. They will ensure the new recruits have the necessary hardware and software to get started, and will pay close attention to ensure that you are giving your new recruit what they most need to succeed: clear instructions and access to the systems they will be working with.

Some will be more diligent than others about verifying your project management processes are suitably mature (i.e., efficient, refined, tested) and will maximize the likelihood of success. Be prepared to share some of your internal project management tools and processes with them. They will want to know that you have a clear plan and follow good practices when writing and tracking tasks. If you don't have a clear vision of what you want from your new staff then the agency will have no way to measure their success. A good agency will raise concern if a clear vision is not in place.

Some will be more active in ensuring your experience with their talent is positive. Expect your staff augmentation agency to request regular short meetings to get feedback on the people they have on your team. Do not be surprised to receive feedback from them too on your internal processes and any red flags that might be preventing you from getting the most out of your team(s).

The fact is, many companies that use staff augmentation services do so because they are likely to see less turnover and more engagement from the people they add to their teams. The natural first step then is to look for a firm that takes pride in its staff, has solid recruiting procedures, demonstrates a compelling retention plan, and provides support during the onboarding of any new additions to your team. All these factors will improve your chances for a successful engagement. Don’t hesitate to ask them about some of the points I’ve raised here and make sure they have policies that put your success first.

Finally, any staff augmentation agency that takes itself seriously will not charge you anything if you are not happy with your new team member(s) within the first few weeks. This shows you the agency is confident in its processes and staff.

Look out for my second article where I detail how to choose the right people and prepare them for success.

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