What is the tradeoff between in-house vs. outsourcing for software development? Is it better to outsource onshore or offshore? Here’s what to...
What To Look for In a Nearshore Staff Augmentation Company
When it comes to finding the right firm to hire for your nearshore outsourcing needs, here are some essential questions you have to ask.
Nearshore staff augmentation has many benefits, from affordable talent to on-demand expertise — all without the cultural and geographic rifts of offshore outsourcing. An augmented team complements your in-house team and helps you access the skills you need without spending lots of time and money on recruiting.
As with any sort of hiring, though, it’s crucial to do your homework. In fact, it’s arguably more important to vet your staff augmentation provider, as you’re looking for people who can meet a specific need. To find the best nearshore augmentation partner for your company, consider these factors:
How long will you need staff augmentation?
Some businesses need temporary help, such as coding or design for a large project. When local talent is sparse, you can turn to nearshore staff augmentation. This is especially helpful for projects that require closer cultural similarity, such as for quality control or copywriting.
In those situations, you may only need the augmented team for the project’s duration. Does your potential partner offer that? What is the cost? Is there the potential to add more tasks or workers to a contract? How many hours per day do you need them?
Some people also hire staff augmentation firms as a long-term solution. If you live in an area where a certain skillset is underrepresented, you may find it more cost effective to book an augmented staff indefinitely. Can your prospective provider fulfill your needs? How will the scope of work change over time?
Do they provide the services you need for your target vertical?
Not all skillsets are equal once you apply them to client projects. For example, developing a healthcare platform is very different from developing a video game. Be sure that your staff augmentation provider offers talent with experience in your specific needs.
See what previous companies or projects they’ve worked on. Do they match your target verticals or project types? And to what depth do they offer their skills? Can you expect detailed UX design and optimization, or a bare-bones structure that your in-house team will flesh out?
Does the provider have a record of success?
Check to be sure that the provider can deliver what they promise:
Read reviews and testimonials, and try to verify their authenticity whenever possible. (If it sounds fake, or too good to be true, it probably is.)
Ask your network if they’ve had any experience with the provider. Your colleagues and connections may also be able to point you toward an augmentation firm that’s helped them.
Request case studies or demos that prove how the agency has helped other companies. Look for common themes and examples of how they’ve met needs similar to yours.
Does their technology stack align with yours?
In addition to ensuring the augmented team knows the right tools and software, check to see if they can work with your technology stack. This includes communication/teleconferencing tools, project management platforms, code databases, etc. If they don’t use all your tools (or vice versa), it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but be aware that it could take longer to get established.
How do they handle their workflow?
Augmentation is more than outsourcing: you’re accessing complementary talent whose tasks need to align with your core team’s work. Therefore, you’ll want to assess how they operate.
It’s completely okay for staff augmentation providers to offer management for their team — that’s one of the perks! However, you should still ensure that your workflows align. How do they assign tasks? Will their docket support your project roadmap? How will you create and track accountability?
What are their methods for data security?
Cybersecurity and personal data protection are vital to most businesses’ projects. Always ask a prospective nearshore staff augmentation provider how they handle data security.
How will they protect sensitive information? Do they use proxies or VPNs to access company databases? What measures do they have in place against hackers and other cybercriminals?
Data security is notoriously difficult for remote teams, especially those who are international. Unfortunately, cybercriminals often launch scattershot attacks that can derail your project progress and impair your remote team’s ability to perform. It’s well worth your due diligence to ensure that both your core and augmented teams have robust cybersecurity measures in place.
Will they protect your intellectual property?
As soon as you go international, it becomes even more challenging to secure your intellectual property and maintain your competitive advantage. Some unscrupulous companies will offer outsourcing services only to poach your ideas.
By asking questions about IP upfront, you can separate legitimate companies from the rest. In general, there should be clear work-for-hire and non-disclosure agreements in place, with clear penalties for disseminating or otherwise sharing sensitive data.
You may also consider setting up a separate server for the augmented team or limiting their access to ensure they only get the resources you need.
In what languages are they proficient?
One of the top benefits of nearshore staff augmentation partners is that they can usually provide staff who speak English. However, if you need to accommodate other languages in your project, inquire about their proficiencies. Do you need Spanish? French? Creole? All three?
If you have UX copy or other assets that need to appear in multiple languages, it’s worth asking if your augmented team can code, design, or edit in those languages. If not, you’ll need to procure additional multilingual editors to review the deliverables.
How will you measure success?
An augmented team is an extension of your own, which means it’s crucial to evaluate everyone’s progress. See if your potential partner offers metrics on the augmented team’s performance and productivity.
How can you measure the quality of the work? Will you be able to calculate an ROI? How will you align their performance with that of your core team?
Ideally, your staff augmentation provider will provide core metrics that help you best allocate your resources. They should want to demonstrate their efficiency and how you are saving time and money by using their services.
Take the time to research prospective nearshore staff augmentation providers. Some characteristics, such as technology stack or workflow preferences, may not be deal breakers as you can make adjustments. However, your partner should always emphasize data security, implement performance reviews, and offer your required services. Ask the right questions so you can launch a productive and lucrative partnership!