This has meant companies all over the world turning to external agencies to fulfil their development needs but a middle ground is possible, where you can recruit some key roles into your permanent team and then supplement them with selected contracted developers, covering any skills gaps.
Outsourcing vs Outstaffing
One really important distinction to make at the beginning is understanding the difference between outsourcing and outstaffing your development needs. Outsourcing is when you decide to hire a full team of developers to work on a specific project(s) and they work together to complete the allocated project(s), rarely interacting with your internal team.
Outstaffing relates to bringing in individual contractors to work within your current team, working directly under your internal management and effectively working as a normal member of staff. They are often full-time and not working on any other projects or clients.
Each method has its advantages and some companies will use both models depending on their current requirements but we want to focus on how outstaffing can help your business.
Advantage to outstaffing
Outstaffing, also known as staff augmentation, is selected by many companies because it provides the ultimate, flexible model for scaling your business in a cost-effective and controlled manner. It provides so many advantages to a business.
- By having a percentage of staff remaining permanent, they can ensure consistency and care about long-term quality. They will hold the contractors to task, which wouldn’t happen if you relied solely on outsourced development
- You also get to keep overall ownership, meaning all domain knowledge will stay in the business
- You can scale up your team quickly, allowing you to get to market faster
- Cost-effective - you only hire them for the period of time you need, you don’t worry about the expenses of hiring, offices, pensions etc…
- If the developer is not working out, then it is quick to find a replacement
- You can find skills that you cannot hire locally
- They can bring experience from similar projects - you have a wider pool to choose from, so can usually find the relatable experience
- You have control over the contractor and the ability to monitor closely what they are working on, which is not always the same when hiring an agency to do specific, independent projects
How to Build a Combined Team
If you have decided to supplement an internal development team with additional members of the team that are external contractors, your next step is to understand how best to build this combination of developers and ensure they work well together.
You’ll need to consider the roles you’ll recruit for, the ones you feel should be permanently employed vs ones you are happy to be contractors. What systems will everyone be using and how to ensure both permanent and contracting staff are following the same rules, guidelines, code best practices and documentation procedures.
It all starts with understanding who you are going to recruit in-house vs having as contractors.
Key roles that should be permanent
Regardless of how easy they will be to fill, some roles are key to be kept permanent if you are looking at a hybrid model. If that means short-term you use outsourcing until you find the right person, that is fine, but it’s important you eventually fill these roles in-house.
Project manager - The person that runs the project, controls the sprints and updates the business on progress. They allocate the work, ensure you are on track and understand the resources that are needed.
By making this person permanent in the team you can retain control at all times, have consistent best practices and ensure they are working closely with the rest of the company.
Product manager - If your business has a product team that’s responsible for building the user stories, managing the minimum viable product needs and building the relationships with end users, it works better if they are permanently in the business.
Junior developers - Not always the same, but it is generally easier to find good, new developers. You can use apprentice schemes, graduate schemes etc… and these resources will be relatively cost-effective and enthusiastic. They are good to compliment your overall team and normally more senior and experienced developers will be the incoming contractors.
How to integrate your outsourced team members
When you have found your new external team members, the key to a successful development team that combines permanent staff and contractors is how well you integrate those contractors into the business. You need a structure that includes contractors as part of the working model, they should never feel inconvenient or difficult to work with, otherwise, it will never deliver the best results.
This means onboarding is critical to success. A strong onboarding process will ultimately enable your contractors to start work faster and build successful code within weeks. A typical onboarding period for a contractor would be one week, where you immerse them into the culture of the business, the goals and ways of working.
A few tips on how to integrate contractors quickly.
- Get required paperwork completed before they start and make sure all access they need is prepared in advance so that they can get it on day one
- Ensure they understand who the key contacts are, like product or project managers. These are key relationships from day one
- Agree on the reporting processes, like timesheets and reviews. If you bring people to work full time then they will need to understand the working hours
- Put in place clear targets for the contractor to achieve. The sooner they understand these, the faster they will be working like one of the permanent members of the team
- Do all the above and give them a genuine sense of ownership. Contractors that are given the minimum information and involvement will act accordingly, but allowing them to become part of the team and own part of the project will change how they work
Having got your permanent staff sorted and understanding what you need to do with your contractors when you recruit them, it’s time to learn the best places that you can find these external developers.
Where to Find Your Outsourced Developers
You have several options when looking to find developers to supplement your development team. You could search for them directly yourself, use a recruitment agency to find them, work with a development agency that can provide individual developers to work in your business or utilise the increasingly popular marketplaces where you can find developers to work for you for an agreed period.
Directly finding and hiring - This is often a cheaper route to go but it will involve a lot of work and you’ll need to spend a lot of time interviewing, testing and understanding if the candidates are as good as their CV claims.
Recruitment agency - Some of the better ones will do good validation and checking on the candidates in advance but you’ll pay a lot for this service.
Development agency - They will likely have access to people quickly and will have verified the quality of people on their books. The costs are quite high and often these developers will be used to working across multiple clients at once
Marketplaces - The costs are more controlled and you can deal with developers directly in one place. Some of them will have quite a wide variety of quality on them.
Whichever method you use, several factors are important to remember. Follow these best practices and you’ll find good quality contractors that will supplement your internal team seamlessly.
- Ensure they are well vetted. This is the most critical part. The best solution is working with an agency or marketplace that goes through a rigorous vetting programme, does interviews and testing of coding skills
- Make sure they can be replaced quickly. If the option you go with cannot replace poor contractors quickly, then you might as well go and get them yourself! So they will need simple rules on replacing contractors you don’t like and enough alternatives on their books so you get a replacement instantly
- You need someone to be responsible for the developers doing their jobs, hitting targets and maintaining quality
- Insist on a try before you buy the contract. You should be able to test out a few developers at the beginning and then return them immediately if they do not work out. Never be exposed to a long-term commitment upfront with someone you’ve never worked with before
The best option that combines all of the above requirements is choosing a marketplace like WeLoveNoCode that will do the following for you.
- Review all CVs and put developers through rigorous tests before adding them to the list of developers you can choose from
- All developers are interviewed before being added, to ensure they are of the highest standard and can back up their CV claims
- The best ones will remain on the platform and you can select these experienced ones
The even better news is that WeLoveNoCode offers a free consultation to help you understand what staff you need to reach your goals and even help you build out a roadmap if that’s what you need. Reach out today for a free call and see if we can help.