AgileHuman Resources

Staff augmentation: How to manage extended teams?

Recent years have shown us how the world perceives and performs remote work. People and organizations have discovered new ways to streamline work, thus improving efficiency and productivity. Many projects can be carried out and coordinated from anywhere in the world. You can work with external teams to perform specific tasks or when you need additional specialists. Undoubtedly, staff augmentation has many benefits, but it can also bring some unknowns and challenges, such as: Will it be feasible? Will the external team adapt to the changing conditions and requirements of the project? How will bringing in outsiders affect my team and how we work now? In this article, we will dispel these doubts and give tips on coordinating teamwork when using staff augmentation.

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Contents:

The importance of good beginnings

Staff augmentation allows you to find the right people who will be able to meet the evolving needs of a given project. It’s a type of outsourcing that uses temporary workers to fill short-term positions in your company. However, it’s possible that a project will result in a long-term cooperation.

Before you decide to work with external developers, it’s worth looking at your internal team. What are their competencies and their strengths? Is it essential for you to hire people with similar skills and thus, for example, speed up the work, or do you need to broaden your horizons and build a unique functionality?

Identifying your needs and priorities will narrow down the search and definitely save you time. Once you’ve determined all the factors that will make your project successful, it’s worth to make sure everyone is working towards the same goal.

To maximize the chances of meeting product objectives, consider organizing a project Kick-off. Such a meeting is integral to our software development management at Inwedo. A comprehensive set of questions we ask allows new team members to get acquainted with the project and apprehend the goals and the way the team operates. It helps to understand each other, shortens the implementation time, and allows bringing value to the project faster.

Distributing workload for augmented teams

Clear communication from the start allows you to avoid misinterpretations and ambiguities that can lead to inefficiencies and disputes between team members or with you as the client.

Of course, it’s easier to plan and communicate in quick meetings when everyone works in one place. Therefore, when working remotely with an external team, effective communication is essential – especially when it comes to planning and division of responsibilities.

To fully leverage the potential of staff augmentation, it’s vital to clearly define tasks and estimate the time needed for their implementation. A comprehensive kick-off is something that will help you do that. Moreover, it will provide new team members with the project’s full context, which translates into their better understanding of the tasks, allowing them to propose more adequate solutions.

The better the team understands the purpose, the less micromanagement in assigning tasks, and the more proactive team involvement. When working in Scrum, if the dev team is given the context of activities, they volunteer for tasks based on their capabilities and skills.

Extend your team spirit – how to integrate your augmented staff?

When starting cooperation in the staff augmentation model, you may have a number of questions regarding various aspects of working culture, for example: What will the collaboration with external teammates look like? Are we able to integrate people so that they truly become one team?

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Agata Solnica

Head of Growth

Team members who join as an augmented team are often perceived as fully external consultants, when in reality – by joining the team, they become an integral part of the project.

The most important thing is to focus on integrating the external specialists in the project context during onboarding. It’s worth considering starting cooperation by organizing joint work on-site and an in-person introduction. A structured Kick-off meeting allows the team members to dive deep into the project goals and requirements, which enables you to ensure that the level of commitment is equal for everyone involved.

What can you do, to provide proper onboarding for extended team members?

  1. Organize live onboarding (at least 2-3 days) if possible.
  2. Introduce external specialists not only to tasks, but also to the full context of the project and its goals.
  3. From day 1, provide all necessary accesses to the knowledge base.
  4. Assign a buddy – a person from the core team to whom new people can ask questions.
  5. Organize regular feedback sessions (after a week, two, or a month).
  6. Think about joint integration with the team so that they can do something other than tasks together.

This way, you avoid micromanagement and provide the entire team with the same level of knowledge which is the basis for building good cooperation and, in the end, becoming one well-coordinated team. When new people on board are committed, they willingly propose many solutions, indicate the best course of action, and take the initiative to perform tasks in which they specialize.

Managing extended teams – highlights

To help you make staff augmentation work for you, we share the 3 key aspects of managing extended teams that – based on our experience – influence the most productivity or the atmosphere of cooperation and results.

Focus on communication and invest in building relationships

The basis of managing internal and external specialists is good communication. It’s worth ensuring a good flow of information so that reporting reflects the complete picture of each project stage. Have regular meetings where you can keep everyone updated on progress and get to know each team member better.

Less formal communication channels between team members can be a link allowing unforced integration. It can also be a factor in supporting the generation of creative solutions.

As we mentioned before, organizing a kick-off meeting, on-site allows you to get to know each other in person and give you a good start for further cooperation.

Our experience in staff augmentation has taught us that the first meeting (such as a live workshop) is extremely important. This way, we make the most of these comprehensive kick-off meetings to enable our teams to offer various types of solutions from the very beginning and integrate seamlessly into the client’s teams.

Project kickoff in Inwedo software development

Keep your IT team synchronized

Again, we return to the basic principles, such as communication and ongoing reporting. The more people work on one project, the greater the risk of miscommunication. Regular meetings should solve these issues, but it’s worth creating a shared space where each team member can monitor the progress and, if necessary, find out what the other members are working on.

Good cooperation and partnership mean flagging any problems and brainstorming together about possible solutions and next steps. Transparent and detailed reporting at each stage is the key to keeping up to date with your progress and avoiding duplication of work.

Balance between control and flexibility

Managers often find it difficult to give up excessive control. Remember that micromanaging the team frequently leads to conflict within the project, which can be detrimental to communication and collaboration while stifling creativity. In addition, external specialists may feel unappreciated, which can hamper their ability to innovate or be creative.

Keep in mind, that the essential ingredient of any fruitful cooperation is trust – in the people invited to cooperate, their skills, and experience. Focusing on support, guidance, and honest feedback is beneficial for team members own personal progress and the project’s success. Empowered teams that understand the context of activities work together in the spirit of mutual support to solve the problem and achieve better results.