Augmenting staff to increase your company’s overall capacity and expertise can be beneficial at any stage. Whether your company is a start-up and has just found its footing or the 800-pound gorilla in your industry, there are many reasons bringing on external talent could be beneficial for you.
#1. Know your team before augmenting
One of the most important things you can do prior to augmenting your team is to understand current team members’ skill sets and skill levels. The team as a whole should do some introspection to understand their current strengths and weaknesses. Have roles in mind for the people who are joining the team. Really understand the reasons why you are bringing them on. Is it because they possess expert domain knowledge? Do you need additional generalists? The goal is to have an adequate amount of technical and non-technical competencies and personalities that are complementary to form a solid and cohesive team. Once the team is established, remember to give the team members the time and resources to do their job well.
#2. Have a great onboarding experience
Ensure your onboarding process is ready to go before augmenting. You don’t want to figure out onboarding after the contract has started as the new team members will have nothing to do and you’re wasting your money. Work with your IT department ahead of time to ensure they are aware of new members so that processes like providing required credentials and proper access to resources can be done in an efficient manner.
Once onboarded to your infrastructure, proficient teams that serve as augmentees to others projects will be excited and eager to start learning as much as they can about the project.
Does your project have adequate documentation such as architecture diagrams or wiki pages for onboarding new engineers in an efficient way?
Ideally, the access to onboarding documentation is the same for a company employee as it is for your external resource. Having this documentation ready definitely helps in getting your project started on the right foot as it removes unnecessary barriers to make the whole team more productive from the start.
#3. Have good software development practices out of the gate
Is your team suffering from bad software development practices such as checking in bad/broken code? A lack of testing or code hygiene? Make sure the new team members are aware of the state of the code and your goal for improving the code quality. Otherwise, they will discover the code in its poor state and may think that is accepted as the norm for the organization, this raises red flags if not called out.
#4. Who are the junior engineers?
Tell the new team members who among your team are considered more junior than others. Not knowing someone is junior often leads to wrong expectations in the working relationship. Working with junior engineers is excellent. However, activities such as code and architecture reviews take longer and need to be accounted for.
#5. True team integration
Make the new team members feel welcome. Really integrate them into the team, and remove any unnecessary silos that exist. Information sharing about project specifics, meetings and written communications should be open and the same across the entire team. Get rid of any “us” vs “them” talk and body language. It should be one cohesive team. When true team integration is achieved, there is limited time wasted in onboarding and orientation. Eliminating barriers to information enables external team members to start being effective on the project immediately.
For the many teams Prominent Edge has worked in an augmentation capacity, the five aspects above were identified as the most impactful. We truly appreciate the thought and care the augmenting teams have been given in order to create some very successful teams. We’re delighted to see and experience better onboarding and software development practices. Most of all, we are thankful for making us part of your team.