Staff Augmentation is widely used by IT managers as a model of choice for outsourcing. Due to the inherent nature of the model, controlling quality of output or delivery is quite a challenge.
This article explores how a certain level of quality can be maintained in a Staff Augmentation situation. More often than not, the following considerations apply to any Staff Augmentation model:
- Staff will be contracted from a vendor or multiple vendors to augment or support an existing in-house IT team.
- An entire project team could be staffed by one or many vendors without any in-house team.
- In most cases, the augmented staff is in a near shore location. But there are cases of Staff Augmentation where the staff are based at offshore. In the later scenario, it will be typically a single vendor situation.
So what are the options to ensure a higher level of quality?
- Site Manager – Along with vendors you should identify a person in the augmented vendor team who should take up additional responsibility of a Site Manager. He/she will be responsible for vendor resources management and adherence to quality of deliverables in addition to his/her IT specific responsibilities. This should also be made part of the SoW. So if there are multiple vendors, there will be multiple site managers with whom you can coordinate and work towards achieving a higher degree of quality.
- SLA – Even though the contract is for staff augmentation, you can get the vendor to agree to certain Service Levels in the SoW. This is possible only if the project parameters are well defined with specific timelines.
- Interviews – If your team can interview and scrutinize every contract staff that comes on board, you can eliminate the risk associated with quality of skills.
- Limited Vendors – If the number of vendors involved in a project is more than 2, coordination becomes a hassle that can result in lower quality of output. This is a matter that is debatable as IT Managers often work with more vendors to diversify risk at project level. Diversification of such risks can be provided at organization level (than at project level) where you have a larger portfolio of vendors to work with.
- Visibility – Vendors are also often attracted to the fact that a certain engagement could provide long term stability and annuity business. Even in Staff Augmentation situations, if IT Managers are able to provide long term visibility to vendors, the latter will invest in making the staff more productive.
- Account Management – Along with Site Management, if you can ensure a higher degree of Account Management from vendors’ business team, that will further improve the performance of the vendors’ staff.