Software Development Staff Augmentation: Process and Risks
Hiring a group of offshore developers is a popular and reliable way to gain more project velocity, deal with technical debt, or quickly add a new skill set. In this article, we will explain how a dedicated software developer’s team is formed, what risks are there and how they’re mitigated.
This staff augmentation strategy is a step-by-step process. There are several distinct stages in the creation of a dedicated software development team.
Different projects have different requirements for software developers team members. Moreover, the composition of the staff augmentation team could also vary: some cases require a self-contained group with project managers, designers, DevOps engineers, and other similar specialists, while others are fine with just the developers.
So at the first stage, the vendor thoroughly questions the customer to gather the requirements for the prospective staff augmentation team members.
Staff Augmentation: Estimation and Planning
Given that the requirements could widely differ, so could the times to hire. Finding someone who works with a popular stack (e.g. LAMP) is quicker than someone who knows rare (e.g. AR/VR) or outdated technologies.
The second thing to consider is the expenses: how much is the customer ready to pay for each position. Knowing this will immediately narrow down the list of potential candidates.
Finally, this is the time to agree upon the interview structure. More on that later.
Search and Selection
Now comes the hardest part of the staff aug process: finding the right candidate and having him approved by the client. To do so the vendor and the customer need to strike a balance between the thoroughness of the interview process and the speed of it.
Qualified software development specialists are in demand and tend to have few problems when finding a new job. So it is on the companies to attract them. Forcing a demanded specialist (e.g. a React Native expert) to go through 4-5 meetings and then complete a huge test task might cause them to seek other opportunities. In our experience, the entire interview cycle should be completed within a week for best results.
Typically, there are 2-3 stages involved. The first one is an interview with a recruiter and the account manager responsible for the project. A technical specialist could also participate. This session should entice the candidate to work on the project and check whether their soft and hard skills are a fit. The second interview is between the candidate and the customer’s representative. The third one is optional and actually happens first: it is a brief call between a recruiter and a candidate to give the gist of the project and answer any early questions.
Staff Augmentation: Work Start and Onboarding
The moment when the candidate joins the staff augmentation team is the true test. The time it takes to put together a complete team could be from 2 weeks to 3 months. Usually, for each specialist there is a trial period of about 1 month. Should the customer be dissatisfied, the vendor will find someone to replace the unfit worker.
As we mentioned in our article on making the most of DDT, the members of a dedicated team should be treated as your employees. Any additional training or motivational programs you have (e.g. gifts of branded items) would go a long way towards making the new hire feel at home and decrease the chance that the person will grow dissatisfied and leave.
Nothing is without risks, and putting together a dedicated team is no exception. However, knowing them could help you prepare and address them before they become a problem.
This is a risk for almost every stage of the staff augmentation process. The person that seems a good fit for the project might decide that the project isn’t a good fit for them.
One of the ways to address this is acting fast. If the candidate is engaged, they won’t grow bored. So conducting all the interviews quickly, as we mentioned earlier, is important. Another option is to “sell” the project the right way. There are cases when a highly-qualified candidate doesn’t find the work interesting enough, even though the project would provide the appropriate challenge. The thing is to find what the prospective hire wants and show this to them.
Project Isn’t Trendy
Everyone wants to work with the latest and the greatest in technologies and methodologies. Such projects are few and far between but this doesn’t stop people from searching for them.
If being a part of your dedicated team doesn’t give the candidate an opportunity to work on something with the coolest bells and whistles, there are other ways you can entice them:
- Brand name
- Corporate culture
Staff Augmentation: Extreme Requirements
Not every project requires a team composed purely of rockstar coders. Having competent engineers that would reliably do their job is generally enough. However, some managers on the customer side can be too exacting. This would make the time and cost of hiring the staff augmentation team absolutely unreasonable.
To combat this, you need a specific set of requirements that is appropriate to the task at hand.
Your company and your project could be everything a candidate dreams of. But if the dedicated team vendor has a bad reputation among the prospective hires, there is a high chance that an offer would be declined.
Before selecting a DDT provider, check the reviews on websites like Glassdoor or their local counterparts.
This is in regards to a manager on the customer side. It is crucial that they respond quickly. Otherwise, the candidate might change their mind and leave for a different company. Make sure that your representative working with the potential hires knows this and tries to process the candidates ASAP.
There is a reason why recruiters tend to specialize in certain kinds of professionals to hire. Experience gives them a better understanding of the candidates, their needs and peculiarities of it staff augmentation. On the other hand, a person who doesn’t have it can think that “developer” is a grade below “junior” or make other similar mistakes.
Make sure your vendor has a solid HR and recruitment team that knows what they’re doing.
Slacking Account Manager
An account manager on the vendor’s side is crucial for the smooth work of a dedicated team. This person is the main conductor of the client’s will. They must care about the team, ensure they can work without any obstacles, and feel like they are employees of the customer. This is twice as true at times when even in-house employees have to work remotely.
So if the account manager isn’t doing their best, neither does the team. Here’s what you should look for:
- Transparency. Regular and honest updates;
- Asking for feedback. An account manager’s job is to keep you happy, so it is on them to monitor whether you are satisfied or not;
- Report quality. If the report is professionally done and contains information that is useful to you, the manager has done their job;
- Overall control. A good account manager keeps tight reins on the situation. As a client, you will see it.
When done right, a dedicated development team is a great asset for a long-term project. Even if there are mistakes it works really well. Now that you know what exactly goes into the creation of a DDT and see the potential pitfalls, you can make your experience with it much better. And should you need a bit of advice and discover what it staff augmentation can give your business — hit us up!