Upscaling and Upskilling; What to do when you need more resources for a new project
Should you take on an ambitious IT project if you don’t have adequate staffing resources on hand? Don’t let this common problem hold your company back. There are ways to get around a lack of staffing. The three most popular tactics are Staff Augmentation, Project Outsourcing, and the Hybrid Approach.
Staff augmentation refers to the practice of adding contract workers to your staff for the duration of a project. This can be an ideal solution if the scope of the work is something you can manage inside your building, but you need some additional hands to accomplish the tasks. It is also helpful if there is a lack of a particular skill set on your staff that can be filled with a temporary worker.
Benefits of this method include:
- Saves money over hiring more full-time staff, helps maintain a lean workforce
- Offers full control over project staff
- Provides ease of integration between contract workers and existing staff, since they work at the same location
- Gives you a competitive edge on talent when you add specialty expertise
- Allows for upskilling of full-time staff, who can learn from your expert contractor(s), at no extra cost
- Promotes quick completion of individual tasks since contractors don’t have extraneous tasks to distract them
- Facilitates addition or subtraction of workers to meet changing resource needs. In fact, if you need to add workers quickly in the middle of a project in order to meet deadline, staff augmentation is the best option, and may be the only option.
Staff Augmentation is a beneficial resource, but it does have some drawbacks as well, such as:
- It leaves you dependent on your internal processes and if they are flawed, your results will be flawed
- It puts total responsibility for the project with your company
- It increases management overhead due to the increased need to supervise the growing number of staff
From “Project Outsourcing vs Staff Augmentation,” TDK Technologies, 2020 (https://www.tdktech.com/tech-talks/project-outsourcing-vs-staff-augmentaton)
If you have a big project that you know is not within the means of your company to complete, even with some staff augmentation, you may wish to outsource the entire project. This approach has many benefits, chief among them less risk to you. When a project is performed internally, any project failures or liabilities are that company’s responsibility. When a project is outsourced, contracts are usually structured so that the outsourcer takes on the risk.
This method has many benefits, including:
- It is cost-effective; no new hiring is involved, no new equipment is needed
- It requires no payment for training costs
- It’s highly scalable
- It gives you leverage when negotiating large outsourcing contracts
- It absolves you of responsibility for failures or missed deadlines
- It requires no management by your staff
It’s easy to see why outsourcing has become so popular. The benefits are outstanding. Like any other solution, though, it’s not perfect. Some facets of this strategy are problematic, such as:
- Lack of control over the project, and difficulty keeping tabs on quality standards
- Integration with internal processes may be more complex
- Staff may feel their jobs are threatened by having an entire project outsourced
- Since the hands-on-deck are not necessarily employees of the company, they may lack dedication to doing the best job possible
It’s reason for pause. We all want our projects to be high-quality and to live up to our standards. And it’s easy to see why staffers may feel uncertain about their job security with big projects being totally outsourced.
The third approach is a mixture of the first two. With the hybrid approach, you partner with an outsourcing provider to build your own dedicated product development team using the provider’s resources. The outsourcing partner takes care of candidate selection and screening, IT hiring, project management, and deliverables. You retain as much project control as possible.
This method is used mainly for software development outsourcing where there may be a lack of local talent, but the company wants to have their own team work on the software to ensure a quality product. It offers more control in some areas, but you still don’t have responsibility for human resources and administrative functions regarding the employees.
The Hybrid Approach definitely has an upside. Positives include:
- You have full predictability regarding expenses, as your team cost will be recurring from month to month. It would only change if you decide to scale it up or down depending on your current financial situation and project needs.
- You gain access to a new pool of talent that’s unknown to local IT recruiters or agencies.
- You can choose from a variety of pricing models available in the market. You can pay hourly or use milestone-based pricing.
You’ll need to visit your offsite team often. Face-to-face communication and knowledge sharing are vital to this process to get the best results.
Choosing a Vendor
Take the time to choose a reputable vendor who not only meets deadlines, but delivers a quality final product. Making a bad choice can doom your project from the beginning.
You might want to choose a vendor who can help with both Staff Augmentation and Project Outsourcing. This allows you to use the same, trusted vendor for varying projects.
Which Method is Right for Your Project?
This is a big decision. You may want to do an in-depth cost-benefit analysis. You can do this internally, or with a consulting firm.
Consider your budget, the scope of your project, and its goals, in order to choose the method that best fits your situation.