Outstaffing Challenges: Esprit de Corps

Building A Committed Team

Building A Committed Team

In our previous piece on outstaffing, we started unearthing some of the points that had helped us become a versatile outsourcing team we are. It was a long and painful process and the thing is you can’t learn these things from generic sources, it has to be a real first-hand track record with cases to back it up. This is exactly what I’m trying to reach by distracting my work fellows by these interviews. This one goes based on the experience of our tech lead, Alex Chaly.

At The Crossroads

The outstaffing engagement model in software development involves a more complicated mechanism of work. As opposed to contractorship and freelance work or even outsourced development, where there is a clear goal-oriented approach with distinct limits, outstaffing is a twilight zone.

In a nutshell, you have your in-house team mostly consisting of top management and an offshore technical team that is a kind of a workshop of yours but with all the traits of an affiliated office. The benefits are obvious — cost efficiency and performance leverage that outstaffing gives. However, even this model can operate on two agendas:

A Dedicated Office

This is an extension of your in-house team like they are a team next door. A dedicated office might be on a different continent but it doesn’t matter because once the employees enter the office, they enter your company world portal. Everything in a dedicated office is about the HQ — the corporate colors walls are painted with, the approved furniture and machinery, the dress code, cups, pens, working hours and so on.

On top of those, HQs spend extra time and money on training employees and implanting the company’s values and beliefs. How is that important, you may ask. There are very specific advantages of the remote integration process, including the following:

  • Access to whatever talent pool you choose. Say, your business development project requires software or web application to be implemented in a certain technology. You can locate where this technology is being mostly used and have your outstaffed team packed there.
  • Full control over the remote team. Can’t you expect good results without personal control over the process? You can. A dedicated office has no other projects that the ones you provide and according to the priorities you set. It makes you not just a product owner, but a project manager with full control over the team. Like a commander moving your troops across the battlefield.
  • Long-time perspective and career advancements. There is a serious issue with staff fluctuations once the specialists you’ve hired reach a certain level of proficiency. Headhunting and talent pouching are real. In an outstaffed dedicated office environment, you can consider moving your key specialists to the home office at a certain point. For you, this would mean saving your top employees and boosting their loyalty, while for them it would be a huge step-up in their career.

A dedicated outstaffed office requires a solid foundation to build upon. This means all your personnel hiring, retaining, and firing will be delegated to a manager of the outstaffed team. This is a crucial position, as this type of manager (we call them Side Managers) becomes in charge of the entire team operation. A side manager is truly at the crossroads but if things go weird, they have to be on the side of a client and sort out the mess.

Outsourcing Time & Material

This model is a little step back from the full blown remote office for the purpose of optimization, in other words, to save money. Outsourcing time & material can work only for specific projects that either:

  • Require immediate scaling. In a scenario where your business enters its new era and needs a serious reassessment, but only once. In this case, you don’t need the entire resource to concentrate on maintenance and everyday tasks. All you need is the resource concentration for a certain period of time, and then things go back to normal again.
  • Work on peaking basis. The workload for some specific projects may depend on a bunch of factors, like seasons, oil price, annual sporting events, etc. This type of business operation requires quick reactions to the occurring tasks while working on a low key basis the rest of the time.
  • Short-time projects. Most startups are perceived as a starting point of a product. Every enterprise is at some point a startup in the making. However, there are startups established specifically for one goal and that is building an MVP and selling the project. This is where a trusted short-time, dynamic development team may come into place and make an effort building a quality MVP and signing off.

Utilizing this type of approach in outsourcing development might be a good option for certain projects, either when your product is scheduled, galloping, or inconsistent. In that case you don’t need your corporate culture spread out to the affiliated team, you don’t have to consider their needs beyond the material ones and definitely, you don’t bother them in terms of environment. It seems like this can provide a viable process, capable of delivering an expected output. So a fair question is:

If you might never even meet the people from an outstaffed office, why would you bother about their mindset?

There are some long-term benefits to it, which like everything worthwhile take time to unfold. We’ve had projects carried out using both models. These are some of our best practices in building a strong outstaffed team.

The Significance Of Climate In Outstaffing

There is more to software development outsourcing than just setting tasks, and uploading results to distributed environments. Like every live organism, a vibrant team has a bunch of demands that need to be fulfilled for optimum productivity. If you rule those things out of the equation and leave them to their own faith, your project will be heavily influenced by that.

Instead, if you utilize your leadership potential and take on those distracting tasks, your outstaffed team will deliver staggering results.

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.
Henry Ford

Our tribal past shines through the brightest in stressful situations. People tend to mobilize when they feel a greater binding force. Your brand can be that force. A freelancer is their own commander. A contractor firm has its own banner. And only a dedicated office flies your flag.

Equip your outstaffed team with your brand identity. In terms of cost, this is nothing, while the morale and loyalty level will grow significantly.

  • Create cross-office events. Everybody likes holidays. If you can add some of the biggest holidays of every team to each others’ agenda, you can create a natural bond and take it beyond the generic congratulations. Just imagine the fun of explaining Easter bunny to your Taiwanese colleague.
  • Include the outstaffed office to crucial events. Focusing on a part of the project you are responsible for can’t take you further than accomplishing goals of this very part. If you want to have an aspiring team, they have to know what they are contributing to on a greater scale.
  • Cultivate outstaffed managers in your philosophy. Shared mindset helps deliver better products. Being on the same page production-wise and also in ethics and methods might be the ultimate edge over the competition. An effective manager who knows the outstaffed team inside out and carries the core values of your brand is the key role in the executive outstaffing team.

Our Outstaffed Team Mindset

Every new project we start working on is unique not only in the features but also the signature traits each and every of them possess in terms of business development approach. Some projects are led by the owners with technical proficiency, some are running on true passion and intuition. Others showcase a cold calculated approach.

This results in custom goals of every project that we have to adjust to. As of now, we’ve collected enough cases to have pattern recognition skills. When we first talk to the startup/product owners, we try to uncover their potential and see how we can impact that. It’s an important step to take, as one of the essential rules we follow at Shakuro, is avoid misleading a client.

That’s why we suggest a bunch of hybrid engagement models depending on the following factors:

  • Budget.
  • Product magnitude.
  • Timescales.

If a dedicated office with 20+ people working exclusively on your project is a luxury, but you still want to rock a VIP client status, we suggest a different approach.

Our Time & Material Outsoursed Model

It’s about partnership. Running an outstaffed dedicated office means doing all the hiring, taking care of the office infrastructure, and pull all the strings. The tech workshop model is the same dedicated team of pros contributing to your project according to the schedule, following all the regulations of your brand, and ethical standards.

The difference is, we use our own brand as the unifying force. In this regard, you get all the benefits of a dedicated office minus the managerial hassle. Concentrate on the product, we’ll cover the rest. Tech workshop approach enables you to:

  • Use up your budget and time on your software or application product.
  • Monitor team effort with no distraction.
  • Build the relationship of trust through long-term agreements.

We are responsible for the climate in a technical workshop and we hold it to the highest standards. Here are some practical tips that we follow to build and maintain a solid competitive team:

Support Strong Corporate Culture

We have faith in team building events only because we’ve build our team’s integrity through those. Early on, we paid little to none attention to team-building practices, as the company was as close-knit as it gets. But with time, the personal bonds started to stretch due to the new people introduction and general company growth. That is where we realized the importance of internal culture events in establishing inner connections that go beyond just work. Our CEO spares no expense on corporate parties and we appreciate it greatly

Besides that, we fund our employees’ hobbies if they contribute to their growth. Language clubs are another important entity that helps people bond through practicing a foreign language in a competitive environment and with benefits to the company. We also hand out awards and cash prizes to our employees for a wide range of achievements.

Streamline Newcomer Integration Process

Whenever we hire people, regardless of their background, seniority, and experience, they all go through the same integration process. Coders learn the code and infrastructure standards that all our developers work by, designers get instructed on formats, UI kits, and UX principles. Writers learn the voice and tone of the company narrative.

Encourage Cultural Learning

Our previous piece uncovered some of the most common issues business owners have when considering outstaffing, cultural differences. Being an international digital agency requires a broad spectrum of knowledge worthy of a world traveler experience. That’s impossible for the general IT crowd who have to sit behind the computer most of the time. However, the power of the internet can change that.

We recognize cultural awareness as one of the underlying principles of great communication and understanding between our teams and clients from all over the world. Our attempts to walk in our client’s shoes reach beyond just solving business problems and understanding their tangible assets. We take it further — we want to know what their customers like and want, how they think and act.

For this, we learn about the cuisine of our partners, their traditions, religion, days-off, history, everything that shapes their identity. We are happy if our partners do the same for us, as this is the first-hand communication that builds empathy and rules out the political agenda that are only there to stop you from stepping over the artificial boundaries.

In Conclusion

The ultimate goal of outstaffing from a client’s side is to cut the costs and maintain the quality. Cost reduction is clear. As for the quality retainment, it gets tricky, as the performance of a digital product is in direct correlation to the effort put in, which is reflected in the amount of money you pay for it.

Outstaffing is there to change that dependency. By using moral encouragement, the power of your brand recognition, the status, infrastructure, and imported corporate culture, you can recreate an affiliation equally good in performance and ethics. As for the agencies, the ones who realize the power of teamwork presentation, cultural awareness, and dignity, will succeed. Read between the lines.

Having explored both approaches back and forth, we truly believe in the result-oriented dedicated office approach, as it has shown the best outcome in various projects — both in performance, and the way people feel about them. The word dedication says it all.

United we stand, divided we fall