Software development firms and business IT departments increasingly rely on technical staffing services to help run their businesses to offset mounting costs, or pull in outside engineering talent. Small to midsize US-based businesses are especially well positioned in terms of their market position to take advantage of the benefits that come from outsourcing. By understanding how to implement different outsourcing models when required, companies can rein in their HR budgets, while gaining access to skilled technical labor when that labor is needed most (e.g. on a tight deadline, or to fill in-house skills gaps).
BXGI believes that in order to get the most for our clients, it’s essential a firm knows how to build a successful outsourcing strategy. By laying out a detailed blueprint of how to approach outsourcing ahead of time, a company can ensure that it’s day-to-day work schedule continues to run as smoothly as possible as augmented staff integrate with internal creative or development teams. Over the years, BXGI has worked with a variety of clients, and discovered that when a business adopts a comprehensive outsourcing approach from the onset, vendors can better manage and maintain exceptionally high service quality, while keeping clients’ expenditures as low as possible.
Here are 6 crucial steps to building an effective outsourcing strategy:
1. Outline Detailed Outsourcing Goals
A company that clearly defines its outsourcing goals early on is already one step ahead of the competition. Firms that carefully outline their outsourcing objectives, step-by-step, will be in a better position to select the right staff augmentation model for their particular industry than companies that pay less attention to these steps, because they’ve taken the time to understand the pros and cons of outsourcing.
Another advantage of defining crystal clear outsourcing goals is the opportunity to take stock of a company’s actual outsourcing needs. While staff augmentation comes with many positives, there are some downsides as well, which could mean outsourcing might not be the best staffing approach for a particular business during a certain period of time. But when a gaming or software development firm is preparing for a next phase in product development, or launching several new projects that exceed the ability of their current employees to handle, or require outside technical or creative expertise, staff augmentation agencies can help provide a company with the skilled professionals it needs.
By establishing well-defined outsourcing goals early on, a firm can utilize IT staffing in the most effectual manner possible — hopefully increasing productivity, while saving money at the same time, by scaling up or scaling down supplemental staff as business or budgetary concerns dictate.
2. Budget for the Expected and Unexpected
According to Statista, which specializes in market and consumer data, information technology outsourcing (ITO) hit $62 billion in 2018 (business process outsourcing, or BPO, reached almost $24 billion). And while the size of the IT outsourcing market will likely fluctuate over the next few years due to changes in the global economy, as well as due to companies cutting costs by moving less critical IT services over to cloud computing environments, operational managers still need to budget for different business scenarios that come from working with a staff augmentation model.
When mapping out monthly, quarterly and annual budgets, companies need to take into account their present staff augmentation needs, while factoring in how augmentation can help reduce their overall personnel budgets, if and when properly implemented. But they’ll also need to budget for the unexpected, such as unforeseen employee turnover, or a new contract that requires more skilled labor than is currently on staff.
Managers often cite “hidden costs” as one of the primary reasons why outsourcing endeavors can fall short of initial expectations. A reputable IT staffing firm can help a company validate its supplemental staffing plan, finding the right balance between affordability and expected results, while also identifying possible hidden costs, giving the client the ability to quickly increase or decrease supplemental staff when needed, or on short notice, without breaking the bank.
3. Choose the Right Outsourcing Engagement Model
When building a compressive outsourcing strategy, HR executives should prioritize the specialized skills they’re searching for, and why. By clearly defining the technical or creative expertise they need to add, it becomes easier for managerial teams to choose an outsourcing engagement model that matches their specific staffing requirements.
There are a variety of outsourcing models to choose from, including onsite, onshore, nearshore and offshore engagement models, all of which come with different benefits and risks. A company looking to offload noncritical technical operations would likely be interested in a different type of outsourcing model than a software firm on the hunt for an exceptionally rare programing skill, which would differ still from the model a gaming studio would select to fill a few in-house skills gaps on a short-term basis. By choosing the right outsourcing engagement model — in consultation with an experienced technical staffing firm — from the beginning, businesses can put supplemental staff to work as quickly and efficiently as possible, without wasting time or resources, or cutting down on productivity for any significant amount of time.
4. Mitigate Outsourcing Risks
While outsourcing comes with many benefits, it also carries with it some risks that need to be addressed (as we’ve already briefly covered). By understanding and mitigating these risks, companies can reduce their financial exposure, while increasing the efficiency of the outsourcing model they select. Here are four risks to pay particularly close attention to:
- Trust and Control: Managerial oversight is reduced when a company outsources, especially when choosing the onshore, nearshore or offshore models. HR directors can build trust by learning as much as they can about the IT staffing firm they’re working with, speaking with previous clients, and making sure they’re comfortable with their vendor’s outsourcing methodologies. These simple steps can help establish clear communications protocols, fostering a sense of cooperation and trust between a company and its vendor.
- Hidden Costs: As we’ve discussed, hidden costs, when it comes to outsourcing, can quickly lead to client dissatisfaction. When signing a contract with an IT staff augmentation agency, HR executives need to make sure their contracts clearly outline terms of payment, any lists of possible (and acceptable) supplementary charges, what services might incur additional charges, a ceiling to additional expenses, as well as a procedure for reviewing surcharges if and when those services/charges are actually needed.
- Quality Issues: In addition to a reduction or loss of operational control or oversight, outsourcing can also carry the risks of quality issues. These risks can be mitigated by working with vendors that have demonstrated a commitment to quality control with past clients and projects, and have a comprehensive process in place to quickly resolve any quality issues — onsite or offsite — with a creative or development project (employing augmented staff) should product or service quality issues arise.
- Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Rights: BXGI believes intellectual property is a serious matter. Rather than create any uncertainty over intellectual property issues (like copyrights, patents, or trade secrets) HR and legal executives might have concerning supplementary staff, BXGI safeguards against these issues by having all of our creative and technical talent sign exclusive work ownership agreements and NDAs. These contracts take our clients’ confidentiality concerns into account, while also protecting their intellectual property rights.
5. Actively Track Outsourcing Progress and Added Value
In order to monitor the advantages and disadvantages that come with outsourcing, it’s important a company or development team has some clear key performance indicators (KPIs) in place. These indicators can help executives decide if the particular staff augmentation model they’ve chosen is the right one for them. And while these performance indicators can vary widely, a reputable outsourcing vendor should be able to offer multiple indicators (assuming the client has already established clear outsourcing objectives), including, but not limited to: benchmark procedures for breaking down outsourcing costs versus supplemental staff job performance, measuring outsourcing expenditures against productivity, measuring the output and efficiency of different augmented teams against expected outcomes outlined in a service-level agreement (SLA) — and of course setting up the specific internal protocols designed to measure and report KPIs in the first place.
By measuring the benefits and progress (or lack of progress) of the outsourcing engagement model a company selects, corrective steps can be implemented if staffing expectations aren't being met. But if those predefined expectations are being met, actively tracking outsourcing benefits and progress can help strengthen the model being employed, thus contributing to continued outsourcing success.
6. Establish Strong Client/Vendor Communication Channels and Relationships
One of the most straightforward and obvious steps to outsourcing success is finding a technical staffing firm that can mesh with a client’s way of doing business. Corporate culture and communication protocols can vary extensively in the business world. Companies looking to hire augmented staff locally or remotely all want to work with technical staffing agencies that operate in a transparent, responsive manner, and that will address any outsourcing issues that may occur promptly and professionally.
An outsourcing vendor that takes the time to learn about a client’s internal business culture, and how it runs its engineering and creative teams, will be building the foundation to a relationship that fosters good communication. This close relationship, in turn, helps IT staffing firms provide the most appropriate company-specific staffing solutions they can, while remaining flexible enough (thanks to constant client/vendor communication) to predict and adjust to a company’s personnel needs down the road.
Companies that lay out a well-defined blueprint in terms of what they expect from their outsourcing agency, and are aware of the advantages and occasional disadvantages that come with outsourcing and staff augmentation (especially in relation to their specific industries), will be in a better position to optimize the advantages, while reducing any associated risks. By building a careful, detailed approach to outsourcing from the beginning of a project, managers will be setting up a clear path to creating a sustainable and successful outsourcing strategy, which will ultimately help them better meet their business goals.