If you're looking for software developers to help you with a project, you've probably stumbled upon the term "team extension." But what does it mean exactly? And how does it differ from similar services like dedicated teams?
Building software isn't easy, and most of the time, the process requires hiring new developers multiple times throughout the project's lifecycle. Services such as IT staffing, staff augmentation, dedicated teams, or team extension come in handy to business owners in search of talent and skills. But differentiating between them is often difficult.
This article is here to help you understand what team extension is all about, how it differs from the dedicated team service, and what value it brings to organizations that decide to outsource software development.
What is IT team extension?
In its essence, team extension is the process of finding software developers with the right expertise and culture fit for software development projects. In the team extension model, you hire one or more software developers who have the specific skills required for a particular project. You're the one responsible for managing such team members, often with the help from your outsourcing partner.
When hiring resources using this model, you can be sure that your IT team is well-adjusted to the task at hand and matches your company culture.
What is a dedicated development team?
The case is a little different with dedicated software development teams. A dedicated team is an external team that takes care of the project for you and works in a separate office of your outsourcing partner. For example, at Codete we have delivered dedicated software teams to serve as an external IT department for our clients, providing a wide range of IT services. Our scope of work covers the entire range of the software development processes — from consulting on business goals and UX design to the actual development, Q&A testing, and maintenance.
In the dedicated team model, companies like us offer a complete takeover of any development-related operation, providing clients with a standalone external development team that works like a unit.
What is the difference between team extension and dedicated team?
Even if the two terms are very similar, there exists an underlying difference between them that you should be aware of.
While team extension focuses on effectiveness and speed, the dedicated team model has a different priority: the delivery of high-quality, unique, and project-specific solutions.
Team extension emerged as a method for addressing the dynamic demands of the modern business world, regardless of whether we're talking about a small startup, an SME, or an enterprise. The idea is to equip these companies with loyal developers who have a particular skill set and can support the company's goals for long periods of time. These workers become part of the client's organization and are often deeply integrated into the internal company structures, collaborating closely within and across teams.
How does team extension work?
Team extension services are usually offered by established companies that have been operating on the market for many years and have become famous for quality among the local developer circles. Thanks to all of this work, such agencies get to access the vast pool of software developers with diverse skill sets. This, in turn, allows building the right teams quickly.
Team extension is an approach that aims to create long-lasting partnerships. It's all about teaming up with a client to help them solve a problem. Such a challenging project creates space for software developers to grow and increases talent retention.
The team extension model relies on the latest team management practices that allow building teams fast and ensure that every team member is motivated and satisfied.
Benefits of team extension
Here are a couple of advantages of the team extension model:
- Access to niche skills
The team extension model offers a great degree of flexibility.
On the one hand, it enables software development agencies and their clients to negotiate the right terms of cooperation and snatch the best talent on the market. While some talented developers work as freelancers, others prefer to work for companies under flexible terms. Some of them even have a full-time job and still find the time to freelance sometimes.
On the other hand, it allows software development agencies to provide their clients with the right mix of developers, regardless of where they actually are.
Clients can usually choose between three models of cooperation:
- developers working in close proximity to the client,
- developers working on the client's premises,
- developers working fully remotely (usually in a different country or continent as part of the offshoring scenario).
The partners can easily agree on the most flexible work conditions where developers fly in to work together with the client's in-house team whenever required, and then proceed to work remotely for longer periods of time.
Access to niche skills
Another benefit of team extension comes in the form of the diverse and unusual skill sets of potential developers who are hired using this approach. When building digital products, companies are looking to gain a competitive advantage and cater to the demands of modern customers. This is where the latest technologies come in handy — they are lightweight and allow achieving better results with less effort.
But here's the problem: Most of these technologies are in the early stages of development or evolve continuously. Finding top talent in such areas of expertise is difficult, especially for non-tech companies. If the project works with Augmented Reality (AR) or the Internet of Things (IoT), team extension services can help to find software developers who have the right mix of hard and soft skills to tackle such complex solutions.
Companies that offer team extension services have many years of expertise in team management. They employ many software developers on a full-time basis and nurture their community of software developers. This is what gives such agencies access to a large pool of talents, especially if they're located in a region that has a very high number of software engineers. Eastern Europe is an excellent example of that, offering a balance between cost and quality.
Teams working in the team extension model can be scaled up easily whenever the business demands change.
The high flexibility of team extension also covers the hiring process, which can be tailored to meet the unique requirements of the client. This allows companies to address the challenges of the ever-changing business environment successfully.
Building a company culture that makes developers happy and attracts new talent is essential for success in team extension services. Software development companies that offer such services know that and invest a lot of energy into their company cultures.
As a result, team extension offers a lower attrition level in a team of software developers, enabling them to successfully work on long-term projects that last more than a year.
Career planning and professional management are also two key concerns of outsourcing providers. And they surely require time and effort to build. That's why only companies that have existed on the market for a long time can provide excellent team extension services.
Who can benefit most from IT team extension?
The key industries that reach for this type of approach right now are companies operating in healthcare, as well as in travel and hospitality. The former requires reliable technology partners who know how to deliver bug-free software for the patient or internal usage or implement new technologies such as Augmented or Virtual Reality.
The travel and hospitality industry needs to quickly react to changing customer demands and invest in technologies relevant to customer experience (CX) such as mobile applications. Our long-term collaboration with Leonardo Hotels is an excellent example of such a fruitful partnership. The company doesn't need to invest in a development team but instead benefits from our dedicated development center, which can be scaled up or down easily to match the changing business needs.
How to hire the right IT team extension
When hiring software developers within team extension, be sure to check whether the new team members are a good fit for the project and have profound expertise in the field. Here are four steps you should take to verify that team extension works for your company.
Step 1: Check the culture fit of potential team members
Since team extension targets a unique project, the chosen developer will be dedicating their full attention to building your solution, without switching between different projects. That's why it's so important to always meet the potential hire in person (or at least talk with them online). You will be working side-by-side for several months or even years, so easy integration and good culture fit are essential here.
Step 2: Check whether the developers have relevant experience
When you start a software development project, prepare for many things to go wrong. However, there's one good method for reducing the level of certainty: finding the people who have the right expertise and experience in similar projects. They will help you address these challenges and bring your overall product effectiveness to a higher level.
Step 3: Establish methods of controlling the team's work
This is especially important if the team extension is situated in another office. You should be ready to manage the remote flow of technical improvement, as well as different types of strategic and tactical decision-making. You will also have full control over the development process, team communication, and even performance evaluation. It's worth making sure that your team is managed efficiently — this is how you increase the productivity of team members.
Step 4: Define project goals and requirements
Find a way to measure the speed and effectiveness of your software development team. Having a clear vision of your project is very important for this:
- Start by determining the roles in your team to avoid the ambiguity that could hamper productivity.
- Set milestones for your project and create an assessment plan for each new team member.
- Use a smart approach to setting goals and carry out discussions with your extended team members.
- Be transparent about your business priorities and goals.
To achieve the best results with team extension, look for software development companies that have been operating in the IT market for more than five years. Many of them offer team extension services (as well as dedicated software development teams), and while the service usually differs slightly from company to company, you will surely find what you need.
Step 5: Integrate new developers into your team
Start with a plan — planning is a critical stage before teaming up with an external team. Before hiring anyone, make sure that you know what the most important points in your project are and which skills or knowledge you need. This will help you a lot when searching for the right developers.
Leave some time to integrate — be patient and don't try to speed up things that can't be accelerated. There's no need to require huge results from your team after two or three days of working. These people have to adapt to new circumstances and learn how to work with each other. So, give you some time to integrate and increase the process with the help of your outsourcing provider.
Formalize workflows — introducing an extended team into your company culture, management style, and way of communicating is critical. Work out which tools you will be using during the project. Developers will feel more like a regular part of the team if you implement cloud-based project management tools that offer full transparency. That way, onboarding new team members is easier, helping them to deliver better results faster.
We hope this article helps you see the benefits and value that team extension can bring into your organization. Thanks to team extension services, you no longer have to keep a team of full-time developers in-house. Instead, you can delegate the task of finding the best talents to an experienced provider and then reap the benefits of the talents that join your project.
If you're looking to learn more about Codete team extension services, get in touch with our consultants. We have been supporting clients from all over the world with dedicated software developers that match unique business requirements.