What You Need To Know When Blending Teams

Staff Augmentation often happens when we are coming alongside your existing team. This could be to fill a gap, work on a backlog project, or to work while you start up your hiring process. However, we are filling a need on your project, we are here to truly be a partner with you. Blending teams is a key component of success on any staff augmentation project.

Full Transcript Below

Alexandra:

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another Bixly Tech Tuesday. My name is Alexandra and I’m the director of marketing here at Bixly. I’m really excited because today we’re going to be talking about blending teams. We’ve talked a lot about staff augmentation in the past, and a lot of times that means that we’re bringing in Bixly team members to work alongside your already existing team. So today, Chris and Andrew are going to give you a lot of tips and tricks about how to do that well. Let’s hear what they have to say.

Cris:

We’re going to be talking about staff augmentation. What does that mean? Some people might not be familiar with that term, so what are some other words that you would use to describe staff aug and benefits, disadvantages, that sort of stuff.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Cris:

So I thought it’d be fun you lead out with, why would you use staff augmentation to begin with? If you already have an existing team in place, does it make sense to use staff aug? Is it only people that don’t have a team? What are your thoughts?

Andrew:

Sure. So staff augmentation is when a client wants to add additional developers to their team or augment their team with additional skill sets. So one reason we see that people will be looking for staff augmentation is because there’s maybe a gap in their skillset. They have developers with a certain set of experiences, but maybe they need someone to help them design a very scalable system for millions of users. Another one we’ve seen too is just DevOps type stuff, where maybe they don’t have a very experienced CIS admin in house and they need someone to set up all their continuous integration, things like that.

Andrew:

So a gap in skill set is a common reason that people will come to us for staff augmentation. Another one would just be that the client’s too busy. They’ve got a backlog of projects and this one project that’s important, but not urgent, just keeps getting put off. And so now they’re tired of putting that off and they want a separate team to come in and really just take ownership of that thing. So those are probably the two most common reasons we see.

Cris:

So it has nothing to do with, they may or may not be qualified, they just might not have the time to actually work on the project.

Andrew:

And they might not be qualified, but in many cases we’ve seen they are qualified, it’s just they’re busy. Their developers are busy. Another one we’ve seen too is, they intend to hire down the road somewhere, but they need help today. And so we can bring them that talent in the meantime for six months or until they hire a thing or meteors if they need, and then when they’re ready, if they still need to, then they can look into hiring. So it can also be a stop gap.

Cris:

Okay. That seems reasonable. Is it usually the startups that are coming to us or is it larger companies?

Andrew:

Not typically really large companies, it’s more startups and small to medium size businesses. So yeah. It’s typically smaller businesses.

Cris:

Okay. But it’s that idea of, I’m not ready to really invest in hiring somebody. Maybe it’s a stop gap. Maybe it’s even something a little longer term because I know we’ve had some long-term staff augmentation stuff.

Andrew:

Absolutely for years.

Cris:

Yeah. What are some of the problems that you would see though with a staff augmentation model, regardless of size of your company?

Andrew:

Right yeah. So if you already have an existing team, then now you have to blend teams. So there’s always some challenges that’ll be involved in that. If we’re using the bus analogy, you have to find everybody’s seat on the bus, what they’re going to be doing, addressing if there’s potential overlap and responsibilities and just ironing out, okay, this person’s going to be responsible for this. This person’s job is this. And then also the other one would be, you just need to get communication in place. So you already have your own way, you do communication internally with your team that probably works well for you. And if it doesn’t work well, we have a lot of experience that can help get some pointers on that.

Cris:

Got it.

Andrew:

But you just got to put a communication system in place where our team can work with your team. The project managers can work together to make sure all of your client’s priorities are addressed. And just getting good communication in place so we all have the same expectations.

Cris:

That’s cool. So outside of what we touched on already, advantages of doing staff aug, we talked about the idea that obviously you may not have the skillset already, so this gives you a quick way to kind of spin that up. Maybe it’s a stop gap of some sort that you need to fill. Any other thoughts on other advantages of outsourcing or again, as we refer to it going the staff augmentation [inaudible 00:04:21].

Andrew:

Well, a big one is that with Bixly, we have a very deep bench of different experienced people, a lot of developers, obviously because we’re a software shop. But very experienced CIS admins too. And even just CTO level consulting for helping you design big systems. So that’s a really big advantage is you get to take advantage of our team and our expertise. And even though you might not need someone with a special skill set for the entire duration of the project, you can bring them in for a two or four week sprint to actually leverage that skillset and then just kind of phase them back out. Rather than you having to go out and hire someone or contract with someone for four weeks and then firing someone else that’s got a different skill set. You just take advantage of the deep pool. So yeah, that’s a really big advantage of working with any company that’s got a deep bench of people to help bring into the staff aug pool.

Cris:

That’s nice.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Cris:

And I know for us, even if you’re still working with someone that is an expert in a particular area, or even a little more kind of Swiss army knife multi rounded, you still again get that bench of bouncing ideas off. Even if someone doesn’t officially come onto the team, they’re still able to actually bounce ideas off the other crew members, off of yourself, myself, that sort of stuff. And so you automatically just get the Bixly team, even if you’re not officially contracting with us in a full capacity.

Andrew:

And staff aug works well whether you have an existing team or not. We can come in and compliment or augment your existing staff, or we can be the team of developers and take complete ownership of the project and the timelines and overseeing the developers and whatnot. So you don’t have to have an existing team of developers. It can be advantageous to have some inside people to work with our people, but you don’t have to have a team. We can just jump in and help you out.

Cris:

Yeah. But we offer project management the whole deal. So it is common for us to take those startups, like you alluded to earlier, that we just take the project and we build it completely from scratch. We help build the infrastructure. We manage it. We help, to some extent, even product own alongside the client and all that sort of stuff. So it seems like it’s a really good fit for everyone, but it’s a solution if you’re not looking to hire internally. This is a very good opportunity.

Andrew:

Right. Well, and you touched on the whole project management thing too. And I think that’s important that clients understand that they don’t necessarily have to be highly technical to do this. Yes, you’re bringing the team in, but you’re getting to take advantage of our expertise too. So you will act as the product owner who understands your clients, your client’s need, your vision for the project, ultimately what success looks like and something like that. That’s going to be your responsibility as the product owner to take ownership of those things.

Andrew:

But you’ll be provided with a project manager, likely myself, that will actually work with the developers to handle all of the under the hood. Should he use AWS or Heroku? And you don’t have to understand the nuances of those types of things. So I don’t want people to feel like, because they’re working with staff aug that they have to be like a CTO level person to handle this. That’s really not the case. You just have to understand what your clients need, what winning looks like, and what your success criteria are so that you can convey those to us.

Cris:

Got it. So you as the client own your product and know what you’re trying to do, but you don’t have to necessarily be the one to step in and say, “Okay. We need to use these technology stacks.” We advise.

Andrew:

I’ve talked with clients before, that all said things like, “Well, we want to use your developers, but we first have to hire someone, a highly technical person to oversee your developers to make sure they’re doing the right things and when not.” And if you want to go that route, that’s fine, but it’s really not necessary because we do bring that level of expertise. And you, as long as you’re willing to devote the time to take ownership of the project and communicate with us, well, then we can totally just run with you on it.

Cris:

That’s cool.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Cris:

So as we close some things up here, I wanted to talk a little bit just about what I call, building partnerships. We’ve had some of these long term staff augmentation things that maybe even started out with the idea of being a one-off, but it worked out so well that we started almost building partnerships with them. Yeah. I mean, what are your thoughts, obviously, being in the trench with some of these companies that we’ve worked with for years, how have those partnerships been working out?

Andrew:

Right. Well, the long-term relationships with our clients, it’s really the best to win-win for everybody, to be cliche. But it works well because you get to know us, you can trust us. We get to know you, we know how you work, how you communicate, what it is that you want. And then over the year, that relationship just grows and the communication gets more and more efficient. It just becomes an even better fit.

Andrew:

And also you’re not wasting time switching between different companies, different developers. We’re not having to go out and bring in as many new clients. So we really like to have long term partnership relationships with our clients too, because what we want to do is be working and building things that build our client’s ideas that are out there. Revolutionizing the industry. Changing the world kind of thing. And so working in long-term relationships is our absolute favorite thing to do.

Cris:

That’s good. And for us, every day it feels more like these clients are part of our team, we’re part of their team. And it’s just fun, because in a way, we’re expanding things bigger and going outside of even the walls of the Bixly building.

Andrew:

Right. Yeah. Change is expensive. And it takes effort. So to be able to really just get to know a client, get to know their industry, their business and work with them long-term, it’s the best solution for everybody. I worked with clients for years and years and years. We’ve worked with clients for five, six, seven, eight, nine plus years kind of thing. So yeah. Long-term relationships are great.

Cris:

Awesome. Well, hopefully, people that are needing to benefit from that are able to find us and reach out and we can start helping out with more of these staff augmentation projects.

Andrew:

Yeah. We’re definitely in it for the long haul with you. It’s not the kind of thing where we build a solution, deploy it and say, okay. You’re on your own sort of thing. We do have clients that do want to go off on their own right then, or maybe they need to go do more fundraising before they can afford to re-engage us. But in general, we set it up for the client and then we can be there for years to help you support it, to help you build on top of it kind of thing. So yeah. Definitely, it can be a long-term partner as far as helping ensure your success with this.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday. If you have any questions about what we shared today, go ahead and leave those in the comment section down below. In addition, you can find a link to our custom software guide in the description, which will help you kind of get on the journey of planning your app. You can also go to our website bixly.com and get a free hour consultation with Chris. Until next time, this has been a Bixly Tech Tuesday.