You may be familiar with classic lean organisations, like Innocent Drinks, Uber and Skype, which are now MBA student case studies of winning brands that have outsourced almost everything they can to expert helpers, allowing them to focus on their main objectives.
But there’s no reason any organisation, big or small, can’t also benefit from a bit of help over time – even if there’s no interest at all in a major reduction of staff.
That’s exactly what Hewlett Packard did. The company 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.
In this example the benefits are clear. But how do you determine the perfect staff augmentation supplier? Well, you have to accept this may take a bit of work on your part, as it’s sometimes hard to sort the wheat from the marketing messages. However it’s really worth you taking a tiny bit of extra time to spot the best third party to help magnify your human capital’s power.
Based on our experience of working with some of the globe’s largest businesses, including Hewlett Packard, I’d say that you just won’t get what you want out of a staff augmentation contender unless they can demonstrate that:
- They know their business Ask to speak to other customers who can provide real-world proof these guys really do understand how to maximise internal and external staff contribution
- They don’t just ‘suck it and see’ No metrics? No methodology to measure and track progress via their intervention? Big no-no. They’re not serious, too ad hoc… you need some science
- They ‘get’ you If this is their first engagement in this sector or your sort of firm – they’re using you to learn on the job (and on your dime). Only work with teams you feel really see things from your viewpoint
- They have no hidden agenda Suppliers want to make profit. That’s a good thing. But this happens best when everyone is clear about what’s going on, what the margins are, and what the SLA really offers. Look for contract transparency and a sense of fairness and both sides will walk away happy.
Follow these simple guidelines, and your staff augmentation project will really return your investment. Good luck!