There are many reasons to engage an IT consultant and employ IT staff augmentation and there are many benefits when it is done right. Businesses can quickly scale up and down to accommodate a project or meet a need. They can engage talent with specific skills and training to meet the requirements of their current and future business landscape. The business can mitigate the cost of training to keep IT skills current, and ensure staffing flexibility to fill in the gaps in a project team or for ongoing support, and it can accommodate its budget with the right experience, training and skills at an affordable cost. In this article, we discuss four areas of caution and attention your business must consider before engaging a partner for IT staff augmentation.
“A staff augmentation partner provides business software services, processes, methodologies and services that are designed to support the needs of the client in the most practical, responsive and cost effective way and leading edge technical skills and IT consulting services are supported by team members with valuable management, interactive and collaborative skills.”
Let’s take a look at some things a business must consider before engaging IT staff augmentation with the understanding that if the business does not plan for and manage the process, it is likely to be frustrated throughout the process and disappointed with the results.
Here are four areas of focus your business will want to consider in order to ensure success:
Documenting Required Outcomes – It is important to document requirements and to apply Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to the process so that the business knows what it can expect. Don’t leave anything to chance! It isn’t so much that an IT consultant wants to short change you or to provide shoddy services. It is more about detailing your expectations. There can be a lot left to interpretation. The clearer the detailed services are, the better job the IT consultant can do and the better the likelihood that the business will be satisfied with results and the project will be successful.
Managing for Success – It is important that IT staff augmentation include management processes on the part of the IT consultant but it is a practical consideration that the business assume responsibility for managing the project team (whether onsite, offshore or a combination of both). Remember that your team has the best understanding of the culture, workflow and structure of the business and is best positioned to provide guidance and management. IT consultant team members should have clear instruction and management and that management process should align with the service level agreement and the mutually understood requirements. Do not change or subtly alter expectations or requirements after the fact without discussing those changes with the IT consultant management team and negotiating any required changes to the documented list of tasks and metrics.
Protecting and Archiving Knowledge – Much of the reason your business engages a partner for IT staff augmentation may be because you need additional, specific skills and resources. Remember, that if your project has a clear end date and termination, you will lose that knowledge and skill and that may put you at a disadvantage. Whether your project involves one-time resources or you are engaging staff augmentation for long-term projects, you should still consider the significance of this skill and knowledge and the loss of that knowledge. Discuss these issues with the consulting partner and create a process by which metrics, workflow and reporting can provide valuable information to understand decisions and to acquire the basic knowledge required to continue a project or perform tasks when the staff augmentation is no longer in place.
Understanding and Setting Boundaries – Your IT staff augmentation project should clearly delineate responsibilities and assign roles for decision-making, reporting and communicating issues, resolving issues related to suggested resolution to project problems, etc. As a business, your team, of course, has the final say, but when issues arise where specific knowledge or skill provided by the IT consultant is needed, the boundaries must be clearly drawn. Remember that, whether you have consultants onsite or your team is working with them long distance in an offshore relationship, internal team members may have a sense of ownership and prominence and the last thing your business wants is to create friction or issues among the team members. Setting boundaries and specific roles and responsibilities in advance is crucial, if you want to maintain a seamless working relationship and keep the project moving in a positive direction.
No matter the prospective relationship (friend, employer, online dating prospect, new board member), it is crucial to set expectations and agree on how both parties will interact and what metrics will be used to define success. IT staff augmentation can be a boon to your business and can result in a rich, long-standing relationship for both parties – but only if both parties come together to agree on the terms and the details in advance. Ignoring the basics is likely to result in delays and even failure!
‘Your IT staff augmentation project should clearly delineate responsibilities and assign roles for decision-making, reporting and communicating issues, resolving issues related to suggested resolution to project problems, etc.’
If you want a skilled, dependable IT partner and worry-free IT staff augmentation, explore our IT Staff Augmentation Services, and read our White Paper to find out how to select an Offshore Outsourcing Partner.