For business leaders seeking the technological solutions that will help them grow and scale, there’s a lot to think about in terms of software development. Is outsourcing development the way to go? What are the economic factors to consider? How can I find software developers to help me quickly and effectively reach my business goals? And ultimately: Is staff augmentation the best approach?
Historically, the quest for software developers would begin with recruiting one or two additional employees months ahead of time. If business slowed, leadership explored all avenues to reduce costs before reducing the team. The staffing model was not flexible.
Today, the economic realities have created new methodologies that not only make software development more flexible, but also allow companies to look beyond geographical boundaries.
Strong U.S. Economy is Driving the Need for Staff Augmentation in Software Development
The strength in the U.S. economy continues to be a primary factor in the employment model for software developers. Earlier this year, CompTIA reported the unemployment rate for U.S. technology workers fell to a 20-year low of 1.3%. Meanwhile, LinkedIn still shows openings for over 229,000 software engineers. In the United States, all highly skilled, talented software engineers are employed. Jobs are filled when someone leaves their current position for a new opportunity.
Digital Revolution Means More Software Engineers are Needed
The second dynamic at work is the digital revolution or Industry 4.0. Globally, businesses and consumers are clamoring for more intelligence, more connectivity, and more innovation. The demand for new, smart technologies prompts companies to accelerate their development and work toward rapidly releasing products that capitalize on market trends.
Opposing Factors Collide: Less Software Developers and More Software Development
The market demand for more technology is an entrepreneur’s dream and development team’s nightmare. There aren’t enough software developers available in the U.S. to meet all the needs today, let alone as Industry 4.0 continues to unroll.
Innovators love to solve a challenge, and these different dynamics have created a new problem. The answer comes from looking more closely at the problem.
Software Development Staffing Shortage
Engineering teams have always struggled to maintain the right staffing levels for the different phases of development. They might need more resources during the initial coding period and then less during QA. The average salary for engineers also varies significantly around the country. For example, if you are hiring in California or Washington D.C., you can expect wages to be considerably higher than in Arkansas. Companies want a way to hire employees that meet their needs, not their zip code. It can be nearly impossible to find the right people in a reasonable timeframe.
An increasing number of companies find the flexibility they need by working with an outsourced software development partner. More specifically, with a staff augmentation approach, companies can hire additional resources quickly and scale as the business demands. This approach is so popular that in 2018, Fortunly reported that companies spent $85.6 billion globally on outsourcing with a majority on staff augmentation.
What Is Staff Augmentation?
Staff augmentation is an approach used by companies to extend their internal team with resources from a third-party. Our blog, “Types of Outsourcing,” gives more details about what staff augmentation is, but essentially it is a flexible outsourcing strategy. Whether that third party is offshore, onshore or nearshore, the goal is the same: staff augmentation allows you to onboard the right employees for as long as you need them — without the timelines or expense associated with permanent hires.
When Is Staff Augmentation Right for You?
Adding highly skilled developers to your team gives you the ability to rethink timelines instantly. You’ll likely be able to add more resources and maximize the budget. In fact, scalability is built right into the approach. When you have a project that demands more resources, you can rapidly add to the team. Then, as the project changes, you can balance staffing to the appropriate level without losing the ability to scale up at a moment’s notice. Still not sure? Here are some questions to consider.
- Do you already have an in-house development team that you need to scale quickly?
- Does the thought of waiting months or years to hire the right employees cause extreme anxiety and jeopardize your development timelines?
- Are you unsure about what your staffing levels might be in 3 – 5 years?
- Do you want to communicate and manage your developers directly, even if they are technically employed by another company?
Did you answer “yes” to any of the questions? If so, staff augmentation may be a viable approach for your organization.
What Are The Benefits of Staff Augmentation?
Scalability is one of the biggest benefits of staff augmentation. You are able to add sophisticated developers for the exact period of time you need them. Freedom from HR and recruiting complications dramatically increases productivity and will accelerate your product delivery timelines. Here are a few other advantages to consider:
- Your development capacity and output will increase.
- The new developers you bring on will be 100% focused on the task you’ve assigned.
- Products will reach the market faster and you can iterate faster.
- You can secure the best developers for your team.
- Without concerns about exorbitant salaries and benefits, you can select the best developers for your project from a global talent pool.
- You can start producing quality faster.
- The developers who work in a staff augmentation model are savvy and accustomed to jumping into a project. The time needed to come up to speed is generally much shorter than traditional employees.
- There are important cost savings, including:
- Lower staffing and HR costs.
- Lower operational costs. You’re not paying for outsourced workers’ office space, hardware (e.g., computers), software, taxes, benefits, ongoing training, or downtime.
- Lower development costs. Given all of these savings, you also reduce overall product development costs.
How to Succeed with a Staff Augmentation Model
Staff augmentation is an easy way to get started with an outsourced approach to development, especially when working with a trusted development partner. To ensure a smooth process, here are a few considerations to keep in mind:
- Communication is critical in any software development project. Be sure that your new virtual team members are clear on the scope and have a way to reach you with questions. The reverse is also true. You should have direct contact information for the new developers as well.
- Defined software development methodology. When you have a defined approach to software development, internal and external developers know what is expected and their roles in the project. Project managers and team leaders can keep tasks on track and developers will know who they should talk to when sharing ideas.
- Share your tools. Instead of using the staff augmentation firm’s tools, we recommend that you add the appropriate developers to your systems. This allows you to keep everything internal to your organization and make sure your team can track progress.
- Documentation is essential. Don’t overlook the importance of proper documentation. You might need to go back and review the details of the project or your team might have questions as they continue working on their segments. Documenting the code makes it easier to troubleshoot or look for bugs. It also is essential for the future when you need to make updates.
- Be flexible. Teams generally work better when you encourage feedback and are willing to listen to suggestions. If you are too rigid in your approach, you might miss out on an idea that could significantly improve the outcome.
Want to explore other types of outsourcing? Anar Babaev, Distillery’s Managing Director, reviews the different approaches and benefits of each here.