Uber. The world’s biggest taxi company. Total number of drivers? Zero.
Airbnb. The world’s most successful hotel firm. Total number of front desk staff? Zero.
And perhaps most famous of all, the world’s top photography company – Instagram. It only employed 13 staff when Facebook bought it for $400m in 2012.
Clearly, there’s a link here: the most agile, leading-edge brands can do amazing things with very little in-house human resource.
Instead, they’re use using expert third party help as much as they can, allowing them to focus on disrupting and maximising their market opportunity. It’s not just these kinds of digital companies that have woken up to the power of the modern techniques of staff augmentation. Bigger companies are waking up to the benefits too — not replacing staff, but bringing in extra resource on an as-and-when-needed basis to deliver against a specific deadline. Hewlett Packard, for example, worked with our teams in the UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Germany to standardise the IT architecture of fifty customers. A project of this size would take years, but was delivered within 18 months, under budget and saved the company $18.3m.
The other great advantage of staff augmentation is the way it can allow you to avoid National Insurance and wage costs, making it easier to get people in the door who have the niche skills that you may not need next week – but really do need today.
Three top tips for the perfect strategy
As with all business techniques, you have to do it right. There’s no point plunging in and wasting money needlessly. Our clients tell us that these are their top three to-do items:
- Ensure you are using both internal AND external staff properly – avoid overlap or duplication
- Measure, measure, measure. If you don’t have the right metrics and targets in place, assigning responsibility and clear demarcation – you’ll lose focus
- Put time in to find the best partner. Don’t just check their competence and track record, but also that their culture dovetails with yours – which means you’ll both see problems the same way, and quickly find solutions.
Research suggests that it can take six months for a new employee to start delivering value to a business. In a world where things move at lightning speed, can you afford to wait that long?