Thoroughly Modern: Four Ways Staff Augmentation Is Helping IT Get Things Done
September 12, 2022 Roger Betancourt
According to a recent report by McKinsey, 87 percent of organizations are facing or are expected to face skill shortages in the next few years. The biggest contributor to this pressing issue has been the impending retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, reducing the availability of skilled and specialized workers.
Technology might be the most affected sector, according to McKinsey –– 46 percent of the executives surveyed listed IT, mobile, and/or web design and management as one of the highest areas of concern. Moreover, 73 percent of organizations will have difficulties recruiting technologists and filling open tech positions.
This ongoing concern for IBM i shops is highlighted daily in numerous ways. For example, how many times have you heard:
- “I understand it because I wrote it!”
- “You’ll need to check with Bob on that – if he’s in today.”
- “We can’t get that because no one knows how to do that.”
- “Sure, we can get you that report, but it’s going to take us a couple of weeks.”
- “If you want those features, then we are going to have to figure out how to integrate those new tools with these existing applications.”
- “If we don’t add this to our applications, we are going to miss some big opportunities.”
- “How come our software can’t do that?”
- “I don’t know. And I don’t know anybody who does know.”
These are all signs of a looming skills shortage. And when someone of Bob’s caliber and seniority walks out the door, they will most likely take with them a huge amount of knowledge of your applications and business rules, exposing you to risk.
Staff Augmentation – Bridging the Widespread Talent Gaps
Organizations that prefer to hire full-time, in-house employees will have to determine new answers to the skills shortage problem and the staff augmentation market provides a ready solution. My best advice for addressing the issue of retiring or scarce IBM i talent remains to use outside development resources, and here’s why.
Staff Augmentation Means Segmenting Your Work And Priorities
When you hand over your IBM i tasks and backlog to an experienced and specialized resource, you free up your time. Performing a work triage to decide what to offload lets you better prioritize your IT workload. The process lets you take the time to plan for the future, rather than fixing bugs and dealing with maintenance or system issues from the past.
Your Work Becomes Much Easier
Obviously, using outside developers means things are getting done. The pending problems are getting solved, and your code is being fixed and documented. When your tasks are compartmentalized, and the IBM i workload is handled by an external source, forecasting and planning to evolve becomes easy.
There’s one secret weapon that we use to get that clearer view, that task prioritization and code overview. X-Analysis provides a full overview of the IBM i applications in play and automatically generates interactive documentation for those apps. The functionality includes impact analysis to the variable level, so you understand the consequences of all modifications. In addition, the data model is automatically extracted to help with planning, development, and testing.
Our onboarding and training process with IBM i and IT shops focuses on the virtues of the X-Analysis tool and how it helps us be more productive and accurate in our work. The tool focuses on generating documentation and best practices for your application, helping onboard your resource much faster. So, on top of your new external counterpart, you’ll have captured knowledge about your system – knowledge that is independent of retiring staff or people who have already left.
Saving Costs In The Long, Long Run
Contract-based or hourly waged external resources can have a positive impact on budget. Recruitment agencies will typically charge a 20 percent premium in addition to the salary of the new employee you hire.
You might have tried recruiting events in the past, which required significant effort on your behalf – additional time, effort, and money. On top of that, the screening fees needed for marketing or advertising the opening were quite high.
The truth is full-time employees represent a large investment. Here’s a brief comparison of the costs to consider when choosing between internal and external developers:
These are just some of the costs of hiring internally. Working with outside developers can seem expensive, until you add up all the hidden costs of an internal hire. And if you choose your service provider wisely, you’re almost certain to get a seasoned professional who is well-suited to the job. When you hire internally, there are no guarantees – even that the person will stay more than a few months.
Staying In Control And Having Full Visibility
The biggest fear of IT managers is the lack of control or visibility that comes with staff augmentation. There are many ways to reduce or eliminate this problem, such as using:
- KPIs in a dashboard
- Protected portals
- Ticketing systems
- Automated system documentation
Don’t forget that you can hire an external resource to work onsite or remotely. The pandemic has normalized remote work and it’s about finding the right collaborative tools to work with, according to your current internal processes?
What’s great is that none of these options limit you. For instance, you can benefit from robust KPI reporting by leveraging data from the ticketing system or timesheets, or both. The effort hours needed for tasks, the number of tickets pending, or the number solved – everything is measurable.
Whether it’s due to retiring staff (you never know what you have until it’s gone) or increasing backlog for your IBM i applications, maintenance, or new development, you can find flexible delivery models in the market and reduce your overall costs by augmenting your developer resources.
The companies that we work with tell us that they choose us not only because we bring unique skills and capabilities but because we also give them the flexibility to choose between North American and offshore resources, local or offshore project managers, and discuss a personalized approach, depending on the needs and scope of work. We help with as little or as much as they need to get the job done.
Our goal is simple: give you the skills and expertise you need to move your projects forward, improve applications, and support the business better. We’re ultimately your partner. If you’re curious, want or need to know more about staff augmentation or support services and how it can help your business, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Betancourt is the director of the Application Services group at Fresche Solutions. He began his career in Web development and e-commerce project management, until he took on a new path with Fresche as a modernization specialist. His studies and numerous degrees in Computer Engineering and Project Management, Development, and Research in Venezuela have led him to understand all components of outsourcing, workforce, and software project management thoroughly.
This content is sponsored by Fresche Solutions.