IT Staff Augmentation: How Not to Miss the Boat?
Nowadays, when costs — all kinds of those — administrative, operational, employment, insurance — you name it, — are rampant, even those IT companies, which were earlier appalled at the idea, come to consider overseas Staff Augmentation as one of their possible options to support growth. Should they opt for this move, and, if yes, how should this best be approached? What are the benefits of this business model, and does it have any shortcomings?
Advantages of the business model
Firstly, it should be mentioned (mostly, for newbies to nearshore relationships as such) that IT staff augmentation harks back, almost, to the time when the software development industry came into being. This business model has been proven on a b'zillion of various projects and promoted the success of some of the things we all know as household names. Moreover, as a business model, Staff Augmentation has a bunch of advantages that are well worth taking into consideration, and, on some occasions, may, even, sway your odds as a vendor. What are these advantages?
For some weird reason, most of those who have no previous experience with IT Staff Augmentation tend to believe that the greatest benefit of all this business model offers is affordability.
While it may, certainly, be true that you have long been wasting part of your funding while better options were available (talking of examples, a Staff Augmentation arrangement with a nearshore provider in Ukraine could save you, all in all, up to 50% of your budget), Staff Augmentation can also deliver you from a whole lot of hassle, and that's just another advantage you cannot, but call a major one.
More precisely, you (or the recruiters you will have to hire and pay, come to that) don't have to be hunting high and low for a specific expert in a place where there are none (or, almost none) available. You don't have to move the office to larger premises only because you need 3-4 QA engineers to properly test your product for a sufficient duration. You don't have to buy more office equipment. You don't have to bankroll employee medical insurance, fringe benefits and team building bashes, and then bring yourself to make speeches at those bashes. You don't have to do oodles of things that are either too costly or cumbersome.
One more major advantage afforded by nearshore Staff Augmentation is the opportunity to add more value to your product. Generally, provided you don't fall for the cheapest option in an offshore or nearshore geography you know nothing about, you can well benefit from this opportunity too.
Firstly, you can hire folks with better qualifications for the same or, even, a smaller amount of money. Secondly, you can source expertise you would have difficulty finding locally. And, lastly, as a rule, well-established nearshore development teams have taken part in an array of similar projects (at least, ones related to the same business purpose or industry) and can prompt something you may have overlooked.
An often crucial advantage of offshore Staff Augmentation, seldom mentioned and considered, is its ability to dramatically reduce your time-to-market, provided you organize your development effort the right way. Instead of 8 hours out of the 24 in a day and night, you will be able to use, at least, 16. This can expedite things immensely for you. All you need to do is choose a suitable offshore location (if you are in the States, Canada, or Australia, an Eastern-European country, such as Ukraine, would be a perfect fit) and talk to the provider of your choice.
As you can see, the pros of using overseas Staff Augmentation to reach your business goals are worth considering.
What are the cons?
Risks of The IT Staff Augmentation Business Model
Most of the risks you may bear are not associated with the Staff Augmentation business model as such. Rather, they are associated with your choice of a specific outsourcing location and a specific provider within this location. From our experience as a software outsourcing provider, there are several hard-and-fast rules for choosing an outsourcing location for Staff Augmentation purposes.
They are as follows:
Don't fall for the cheapest option
There are offshore locations that house multitudes of IT outfits that offer custom software development for peanuts. While prices vary across the different outsourcing locations, never go for a very cheap option in one of these locations.
You are then likely to be saddled with people who can, perhaps, code some, but the quality of that code and their interactions with your in-house team, will, most probably, be a major disappointment.
Choose a location that shares a similar culture and mentality
There are great developers all over the globe, just like there are great cultures, customs and ways to learn from everywhere.
However, being on a tourist trip or getting to know people in a café or just on the street is different from working jointly with them on a challenging task.
To be able to cooperate with your extended team fruitful sooner, pick those folks whose ways are similar to yours. In this sense, Ukraine is a great option to choose if you are in Western Europe, North America, or Down Under.
Choose a location that has a strong engineering culture
At first glance, why should that be a factor, when you, basically, need several more pairs of hands to help you code your business idea into reality?
The answer is very simple: solidly educated engineers from a location with a strong technical culture are prone to handle tasks creatively. Ultimately, they add a lot of technical value to a product. At the end of the day, you wind up with technical solutions that are much more optimal and robust than those that can be implemented by a bunch of coders off your initial blueprint no matter how ingenious the latter is. In this sense, our Ukrainian location is an engineering bonanza, which, in case of need, can also provide any additional business domain expertise you may need, even comparing with The Best Software Engineers In The US.
Choose a good time zone
Ideally, the time zone of your outsourcing destination must have a 2-3 work hours overlap with your location. This would be sufficient to ensure both effective interactions and a continual review process. Again, if you are based in the West and choose to outsource to Ukraine, you will easily be able to achieve the above. We are also aware of a growing number of Aussie companies that outsource projects to or augment their teams with the help of Ukrainian software development providers. Reportedly, they find it convenient to work with our location.