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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


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May 15, 2024 | John Griffin

Beyond Traditional Staffing: Best Practices for Implementing IT Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation has emerged as an IT staffing solution for many companies, helping MSPs equip their SMB clients with the right IT talent exactly when they need it.

The IT talent shortage is a persistent thorn in the side of small and midsized businesses (SMBs).

A recent CompTIA study found that 87% of MSPs reported difficulty finding qualified IT professionals, hindering their ability to deliver critical services to their clients. Traditional full-time hiring can be a slow and expensive process, often yielding a limited pool of candidates who may not possess the specific skillsets required for dynamic IT environments.

Staff augmentation has emerged as an IT staffing solution for many companies, helping MSPs equip their SMB clients with the right IT talent exactly when they need it.

The Power of IT Staff Augmentation

John Griffin of Spiral Scout offers insights on IT staff augmentation.

John Griffin

Staff augmentation transcends geographical limitations. Unlike traditional hiring confined to local talent pools, it grants MSPs access to a global network of skilled professionals with diverse skillsets.

This empowers them to address specific project requirements efficiently, whether it’s cloud migration (a market projected to reach $833.1 billion by 2025), bolstering cybersecurity defenses in the face of evolving threats, or implementing specialized development solutions. For MSPs, the benefits are compelling:

  • Scalability: Staff augmentation provides the agility to scale IT resources up or down effortlessly, seamlessly adapting to fluctuating client needs.
  • Cost-effectiveness: MSPs avoid expenses like recruitment fees, employee benefits, and ongoing training, allowing them to optimize their budgets and offer competitive pricing to their SMB clients. Fees for monthly engagements typically come at a reduced hourly rate because team resources can focus on a dedicated project. The range can be from a few thousand dollars a month up to tens of thousands, based on the experience and skill set of the engineer and market demand.
  • Access to specialized expertise: IT staff augmentation allows MSPs to bring in highly skilled professionals for specific projects without the long-term commitment of a full-time hire.

Best Practices for Implementation

Here are five things to consider when it comes to implementing IT staff augmentation:

No. 1: Thorough Needs Assessment

Before engaging in IT staff augmentation, MSPs must conduct a comprehensive assessment of the client’s IT needs. By identifying gaps in expertise and resources, MSPs can tailor their augmentation strategy to meet specific requirements effectively. During this collaborative process, the MSP and the SMB client must clearly define:

  • Project goals: Clearly articulate the overall objectives and desired outcomes of the project. What specific IT challenges is the client trying to address? What are the KPIs for success?
  • Skillset requirements: Identify the specific technical skills and experience required for the augmented staff. Consider factors like programming languages, cloud certifications, and industry-specific knowledge.
  • Duration and availability: Determine the desired timeframe for the augmented staff engagement. Will it be a short-term project requiring a few weeks of support, or a longer-term initiative necessitating a dedicated resource for several months?

No. 2: Partner Selection

There are several staff augmentation providers MSPs can turn to. Look for a reputable partner with a proven track record of success in the IT industry and a deep understanding of the unique challenges SMBs face. Here are some helpful tips for selecting a provider:

  • Industry experience: Seek a partner with experience in your specific industry vertical, ensuring that they understand the specific IT needs of your SMB clients. For example, if you primarily serve healthcare clients, look for a provider with experience placing qualified IT professionals in healthcare environments.
  • Talent pool depth: Inquire about the breadth and depth of their talent pool, as well as where and how professionals are sourced. This ensures access to the specialized skillsets required for your projects. A strong provider will have a well-established network of vetted professionals across various specializations.
  • Reference checks: Request references from previous clients to gain insights into the provider’s service quality and ability to deliver successful placements. Speak with references to understand their experience with the provider’s communication, candidate selection process, and overall support throughout the engagement.

No. 3: Clear Communication and Expectation Setting

Establishing clear communication channels and setting realistic expectations are paramount to the success of IT staff augmentation projects. MSPs must ensure that clients understand the roles, responsibilities, and deliverables of augmented staff members, fostering transparency and trust. It is also important to delineate roles:

  • Your internal IT team should be actively involved in defining project goals, onboarding augmented staff, and providing ongoing guidance and support.
  • Clear communication is crucial with the augmented staff regarding project expectations, timelines, deliverables, and reporting procedures.
  • The MSP acts as the central point of communication, ensuring all parties are kept informed about project progress, challenges, and necessary adjustments. Regular project meetings, progress reports, and a designated point of contact for both the client and augmented staff are key to fostering collaboration and ensuring that everyone remains aligned with project goals.

No. 4: Onboarding and Integration

Effective onboarding is crucial for seamless integration of augmented staff. This multistep process should include:

  • Company culture: Provide an overview of the company culture, core values, expected work ethic, and most importantly, the why around work that must be completed.
  • Project management tools: Train augmented staff on the project management tools used by the internal IT team and the client to align projects. Ensure familiarity with communication platforms, collaboration software, and any specific ticketing systems in place.
  • Client workflows: Provide a comprehensive understanding of the client’s specific workflows, processes, and any existing documentation related to the project at hand.
  • Team introductions: Facilitate introductions between the augmented staff and the internal IT team, fostering collaboration and establishing clear lines of communication.

No. 5: Performance Management

Regular performance reviews and feedback sessions are essential for ensuring they remain aligned with project goals and client expectations. Here are some key tips for performance management:

  • Set expectations: Clearly define performance benchmarks at the outset of the engagement. This may involve outlining specific deliverables, deadlines, and quality standards.
  • Regular feedback: Provide input to the augmented staff on their performance. This allows for course correction if needed and fosters a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Performance reviews: Conduct formal performance reviews at predetermined intervals throughout the engagement. This offers an opportunity to assess progress, address concerns, and recognize achievements.

Final Thoughts

The era of traditional staffing is giving way to a new paradigm of IT staff augmentation, offering MSPs and SMBs alike flexibility and agility. Taking a strategic approach to staff augmentation empowers you to access a global talent pool brimming with diverse skillsets, embrace agility by scaling resources seamlessly, optimize costs through reduced overhead and flexible access to expertise, and ultimately delivering exceptional service that keeps your clients competitive.

By implementing the best practices outlined in this article, MSPs can ensure the successful implementation of IT staff augmentation projects, driving mutual success and fostering long-term relationships with clients.

John Griffin is CEO and co-founder of Spiral Scout. The former Wall Street stock trader-turned-entrepreneur in 2010 co-founded Spiral Scout, a full-service digital software agency with a team of more than 65 engineers.

Image: iStock

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