Staff augmentation can help quickly supplement an IT department’s normal workload, or bring in specialized knowledge for a short engagement. However, for IT projects—especially larger more complex jobs—we’ve found a single-vendor, team-based approach is often more likely to result in success. Based on over 30 years of successful software implementation projects, here’s our reasons why:
When a single vendor team assists with your IT project, they take ownership and accountability for the entire problem space. They work closely with you to define concrete deliverables and service levels, allowing you to focus on your core business instead of managing numerous contractors and day-to-day project needs. Essentially, you purchase results and not contractor time.
Department resources are freed to participate on other priorities and value-added work when a single vendor team takes ownership of the project. The vendor team involves key stakeholders in strategic decisions, keeping them apprised of project progress and any critical issues. A successful team-approach also engages appropriate internal staff at key junctures and transfers essential knowledge so when the vendor leaves, the new system is supported, useful, and achieves its goals. Productive staff engagement ensures the software meets expectations and the unique needs of your company, while remaining conscientious of your team’s schedule and workload.
Often a vendor’s team has the proven ability to work effectively together. Even when team members have not worked together previously, they are a part of a common culture with shared values and communication tools. This fosters a healthy project atmosphere with productive teamwork while inhibiting the various inefficiencies that sometimes evolve when teams are augmented with numerous contractors from multiple vendors.
A team approach allows for flexibility to schedule the right person, with the right skillset and bill rate, exactly when and for how long they are needed—without having to publish an RFP for another project team member. With one contract, you have access to numerous experts across a company, drawing on support from business analysts, architects, developers, technical writers, and systems engineers as needed during the project. This also allows you to leverage specialized skillsets and unique experience for limited or extended engagements as the project requires.
A team member leaving in the middle of a project can have severe consequences for your project’s timeline and budget. Replacing a team member when using multiple vendors or vendors with contract-for-hire staff can be time consuming and negatively impact your team’s morale. Fortunately, unplanned, and disruptive, team turnover is minimized when using one vendor with permanent employees because these employees aren’t hired on a per-project basis. Instead, vendors with permanent employees strive to hire qualified staff and provide fulfilling careers, translating to hardworking and dedicated team members for your project.
With a team formed from one vendor, you only have to contract with, and manage, one company. Not only does this simplify managerial and administrative activities, but it also gives you increased leverage in contract negotiation. Alternatively, when forming a team using staff augmentation, there are often multiple contracts and vendors to manage.
Due to unions and labor laws, it is important for some organizations that contractors aren’t misconstrued as employees. By engaging a single vendor, project staff are clearly contractors and not your employees, removing the risk of co-employment.
Of course, there are other approaches that lead to successful IT projects. We never prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution or approach. For example, we are currently working on a project with the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and 18F to modernize their legacy mainframe Eligibility Information System. Instead of augmenting the project team one consultant role at a time or utilizing a monolithic, multi-million-dollar, waterfall methodology acquisition, DHSS is using modular procurements and multiple vendors. This strategy relies on open-source technology and vendors working together. It emphasizes user-centered design, agile product development, and DevOps practices and we’re excited to be a part of it.
Contact us today, to learn how we can assist with your IT projects.