Staff Augmentation: The Secret Ingredient for Software Development Success
According to Webster’s dictionary, to “augment” means to “make greater, more numerous, larger, or more intense.” That’s exactly what you need when it comes to your in-house team, right? It’s the how that trips even the best of us up.
But how can you effectively implement this awesome software dev solution called Staff Augmentation? That’s where TurnKey comes in. We’ve got options galore and we know which one is right for your company, your product, and your in-house development team. Let’s break Staff Augmentation down step by step:
- What is Staff Augmentation as it relates to software development?
- What are the pros and cons of Offshore Staff Augmentation?
- Which is the right Offshore Augmentation model?
- What is the main “gotcha” to look out for when it comes to Staff Augmentation?
- How can TurnKey help with Offshore Staff Augmentation?
- Some final thoughts.
What is Staff Augmentation as it relates to software development?
One of the more problematic parts of any industry is the internal jargon that accumulates over time and spills out into the world where it’s often misunderstood. Software development is no different. We’ve got “Outsourcing” and “Offshoring” and “Nearshoring” and “Friendshoring” (and more!). It’s pretty darn easy to get lost amongst the chaos of the nomenclature.
“Staff Augmentation” is part and parcel of the software development lingo dictionary. For the most part, it’s a catch-all phrase that encompasses all the terms mentioned in the previous paragraph—which only adds to the confusion. But at the end of the day, it’s a simple concept: Staff Augmentation is a software development solution. It refers to using an outside firm to supply developers that you would struggle to find on your own in a reasonable time frame.
Think of it as the “just add water” solution of software development.
Let’s run through a quick summary of all the lingo associated with this practice.
If the need for additional staffing is relatively temporary or short term (you need extra folks to bang out a specific project): You’re gonna wanna get you some “Outsourcing.”
If the need is for more long-term, permanent staff (you’re slammed and want to round out or complete the development team): You’re “Offshoring.” Now, Offshoring has a couple of offshoots (see what we did there?). Let’s dig into those:
- Offshoring to a region that is in a similar time zone to yours (i.e., a US-based company hiring developers in Mexico): This is known as “Nearshoring.”
- Outsourcing or Offshoring to a country that’s on extremely friendly terms with your own nation (i.e., you’re in the US and you hire a dev team in Canada): Think of them as your buddies, man. You’re “Friendshoring.”
So that’s the quick 4-1-1 on all things Staff Augmentation. Confused? A cold beverage (cocktail anyone?!) might help. We can help, too.
What are the pros and cons of Offshore Staff Augmentation?
So now that we’ve introduced all four types of Staff Augmentation, let’s give you the balanced scorecard on the practice as a whole. Why would you want to pursue this as your option? And conversely, what might be the reasons you wouldn’t want to?
There are advantages and disadvantages to Offshore Staff Augmentation. The good news is that all the disadvantages are problems for which TurnKey has identified solutions—which is just one more solid reason to work with us.
Shameless plug? Yup (don’t tell anyone).
Advantages of Offshore Staff Augmentation
Disadvantages of Offshore Staff Augmentation
Cost-efficient: Thanks to a lower cost of living, Offshore developers often have salary ranges that are about half of a typical US-based counterpart.
Language and cultural barriers: Offshore teams are, by definition, “foreign” so some things may get lost in translation.
Faster speed to market: Offshore firms can usually recruit and hire faster than you can, which speeds up your product development.
Time zone considerations: If the Offshore team is in a distant time zone there may be limited opportunities each day to collaborate.
Greater access to top talent: Local markets have a much more limited pool than global ones—you need to cast a wide net. Offshore pools are deep and warm (jump in!).
High staff turnover: The average industry churn rate for Offshore teams is 40% which means figuring out a retention strategy is critical to success.
No infrastructure is needed: Setting up your own infrastructure takes time and money that can be better spent on actual software development.
Limited control of the team: Many Offshore firms will promise that your developers are fully dedicated to you, but this is often not the case.
Much more flexibility: Easily scale your development team up or down as your needs evolve or change.
Not custom-recruited: Offshore firms typically give you developers off their “bench” rather than custom recruiting your team to ensure a perfect fit.
Cost-efficient: Thanks to a lower cost of living, Offshore developers often have a salary ranges that are about half of typical US-based counterpart
Language and cultural barriers: Offshore team are, by definition, “foreign” so some things may get lost in translation
Round-the-clock development: Offshore teams that are not in the same time zone expand your capacity to innovate. You’re working even while you’re sleeping.
Poor customer service: The Offshore development industry is not known for providing the high-touch, responsive experience that Western clients expect. (TurnKey is in Silicon Valley—you call us, you get us right away.)
Which is the right Offshore Staff Augmentation model?
Building awesome software depends on a host of different factors, and varies by situation. As a result, Offshore models are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Choosing the right one for your specific product goals is paramount to success.
Love a good cheat sheet? Us too. Here’s one that gives you the skinny on the different types of Staff Augmentation models and when to pursue each:
- Outsourcing: If you are looking for a company to own the entire development of a product or feature, then find an Outsourcing company. These firms have their own teams working on external projects for them, and they manage all timelines and deliverables.
- Dedicated Development Teams: If you are looking for a fully dedicated team that acts as an extension of your onshore, in-house team, then reach out to an Offshore company (like TurnKey!). These companies—at least the good ones—provide a great long-term talent solution as you scale.
- Managed Services: If you’re looking for a hybrid model (you need the management expertise of Outsourcing and the continuity of dedicated teams), then find a company that can facilitate this best-of-both worlds approach. Fun fact: THIS IS ALSO US. One critical success factor to using this model is to set up an easily accessible metrics dashboard so you can always track progress. (We do this, too.)
- Innovation Centers of Excellence: If you’re looking to build out a Research & Development hub with a large number of staff, then find an Offshore firm that can act as your operational partner in setting this up. (*TurnKey raises hand and frantically waves it around waiting to be picked*) The key is to be able to spin up new teams quickly and seamlessly. (Yep, all day, every day.)
Again, choosing which of the models above is perfect for you depends on your unique needs. Those needs will likely change over time with new funding, additional customer growth, and/or macro forces in your category. Thus, being flexible and nimble in your mindset is imperative.
What is the main “gotcha” to look out for in terms of Staff Augmentation?
As we’ve hopefully made clear throughout this post, “Staff Augmentation” is a broad term. You have to define and refine it if you’re going to use it to solve your company’s specific goals.
So far, we know that there are various models (described above), and a few solutions to choose from depending on your company’s needs. We’ve even enlisted Webster himself to define “augmentation.” But what about “staff”?
Despite our fear of adding more mud to the water, we gotta talk about the term. It’s so important that you understand the various types of developers that “staff” can include, if only to ensure you are getting the right ones for your product organization.
Indeed, this is where the “gotcha” gets ya. When dealing with other firms (honestly at this point, why would you), you can get caught in a loop of thinking you’re buying one thing but ending up with something quite different.
Your unique product and internal terminology + potential language barriers + assumptions of what titles mean = you get the wrong talent for the job. When that happens, your roadmap gets elongated and you funnel money out the door.
Enter TurnKey to save you from this fate. Use this guide to know what type of staff is right for you:
- Executors: These are developers that are either very junior or lack above-average expertise. They are perfect for projects that are more manual or routine in nature, such as maintaining legacy systems where the product is well-documented and there is little innovation needed.
- Highly Skilled: These are developers that are senior and possess a broad base of experience. Their feet know just how to step on the gas when it’s time to build new product or scale your existing one. We don’t want to pick favorites, but here at TurnKey, we always recommend using this group. They work autonomously and usually save you significant time and money in the long run.
- Technology Experts: This is a subset of the Highly Skilled bucket—developers who have deep expertise in a single technology. They are ideal for situations where you have an existing technology that needs to be optimized or you are looking to adopt a new technology and you want to shorten your timelines for deployment.
- Leaders: These are developers that are not just highly skilled, they also have the aptitude—and appetite—for contributing in a management role. Many amazing developers just want to be left alone to code (bless their little computer chip hearts, we know and love this segment) but you also need folks that can lead the team toward common goals and objectives. Having great worker bees is not enough to make the championship honey. You need those queen bees driving the hive into steady production mode.
How can TurnKey help with Offshore Staff Augmentation?
We are former SaaS-based entrepreneurs who tried all the staff augmentation models mentioned above—and learned the hard way which ones don’t work and when. Basically, we made all the mistakes so you don’t have to.
Which is why our clients love us. We leverage our learnings on their behalf and help them think through the best approach for their needs. This unique process and experience ensures that TurnKey customers always get a completely customized solution built entirely around them.
That’s why we call our model Yourshoring. We build YOUR fully dedicated team. They operate within YOUR culture. They use YOUR process. And they contribute to the dogged pursuit of YOUR product objectives.
This is very different than traditional Offshoring firms who traditionally force you to use THEIR team operating within THEIR culture and using THEIR process to meet your product objectives. See the difference here?
TurnKey helps you craft the exact right type of Staff Augmentation both for your current needs and for when you scale even more in the future. And we’ll hold your hand every step of the way so you don’t have to face the journey alone.
This is our white glove customer service promise. We make it to every client and hold our own staff accountable for delivering against it.
Bring us your key development needs. Let’s “just add water” to them together and make some big magic happen.
Some final thoughts.
It’s normal for you to know you need to build something great and at the same time be unsure of the best way to do it. Or the best place. That’s where TurnKey comes in. Whether your Staff Augmentation solution requires Offshoring, Outsourcing, or Nearshoring, we know one thing. It will run seamlessly (and your product will soar) when you do it with TurnKey. Talk to you soon.
When you build your team using a firm like TurnKey, you do it in a way that is smart and seamless. You’re paying for exactly what you need, because we’re custom recruiting talent that fits you to a T. We help you navigate culture fit, developer skill set, and retention. You get the output you need at a price you can afford. (Who needs more benefits than that?)
We can’t speak for the others, but with us, it’s simple. Give us a call. We’ll learn about you, you’ll learn about us, and we’ll both come away with a plan of action. With TurnKey, it’s more than Offshoring. It’s YOURshoring. Which means you get YOUR team, working on YOUR product, and aligning with YOUR culture. We make sure of it. Easy, no?
I mean, who doesn’t use it, right? Everyone needs to build great software product, which means building their dev teams—and sometimes after realizing how hard and expensive it is to recruit and hire developers internally, you need to look for some outside help. Some companies use traditional offshore firms that lack transparency and never act as a true partner. The smart ones work with TurnKey and get the software development team they’ve always wanted (and more!).