Outsourcing 101: Extended Team Model

What to do when you have your own in-house team of developers, but need to add to it (but don't want to deal with hiring new people). Let's talk about team extension in outsourcing.

Continuing our story of outsourcing models, we come to the one that often is the most convenient when you already have some developers in your own in-house team. This is where the Extended Team model (ETM) comes into play.

What is the Extended Team Model?

Extended Team Model is a form of outsourcing operation with more direct and tight relationship with the client and the main development team. It is similar to the Dedicated Team model - the only difference is that it is not your only team, but rather your in-house team extension (that work not at your office, but rather at the outsourcing provider's office.) 

Basically, the development team is treated less like a third party but rather as a customized offshore part of the bigger whole that supplements the mainland team. Being a part of the team means entirely different dynamics from being an isolated contractor.

The key difference of this model from the others is in the way the communication is organized.

Unlike the Time & Material or Dedicated Team model where the client usually deals with the project manager, in the Extended Team model the communication, most of the time, goes directly between the members of the team. An outsourced staff communicates directly with the client and rest of the mainland team as if they were homebound employees.

That means, an extended team is completely integrated into the general workflow, which ups the speed of turnaround and streamlines the communication.

Extended team model is a good fit for the following kinds of projects:

  • Long-term multi-part projects with an evolving set of requirements, where you don't have all the required technologies on hand
  • Projects where you might have a side project within that you don't want your main in-house team to work on and get distracted from the core business
  • Ongoing projects that gradually expand and require considerable manpower to maintain

Extended Team Model Advantages

With great power comes great responsibility, as the saying goes. The Extended Team has numerous advantages, but they all require good communication.

Team Synchronization

Synchronization of the main and outsource teams is the biggest asset of Extended team model. Given the fact how important it is to keep everyone on the same page, synchronization is critical when it comes to long-term multi-part projects with constantly evolving requirements and shifting goals.

Usually, this process may be time-consuming due to middleman communication or extended iteration periods.

Extended team model enables more dynamic development process with increased scalability and effort cohesion.

Another benefit that comes from synchronization is a feeling of shared responsibility between main and outsources team members.

READ ALSO: Dedicated Team Model

Efficient Communication

Communication is probably the hardest thing to pull off in the outsourcing operation. We're all people and sometimes we misunderstand each other, especially when the information is transferred through several people in a chain. However, ETM streamlines the communication between the team members, sort of eliminating the middlemen (because team members can communicate directly with each other.)

Greater Transparency and Control

Clarity and transparency are also on a higher level in the Extended Team model because you, as the client or product owner, have more information about the project's development.

Unlike self-contained Time & Materials black box, in ETM mainland and outsourced teams have unified repositories which enables centralized bug tracking, which, in turn, enables more frequent iteration cycle.

All this means there is much more trust in the extended team and much less second-guessing, which sometimes happens in outsourced projects.

Transparency shapes productive team dynamics based on supreme accountability. That can serve as a decisive factor in maintaining healthy and proficient workflow within the entire team.

Shared Responsibility

The aftermath of increased accountability is sharing the responsibility for the overall quality of the development process and its subsequent results. Shared responsibility promotes coherence between the main team and the outsourced one.  It takes a route “we’re in this together” and forges more productive dynamics between the parts of the team.

Common contribution creates equal responsibility. This creates a more hands-on collaborative approach that increases the overall scalability of the team. Speaking of which... 

Scalable Development Capacity

One of the most important elements in managing any kind of development team is its ability to scale according to the current needs of the project.

What does it mean? There are times when you need to scale up your team but you don't have the time or desire to deal with all the job interviews or administrative work. There are also times when you need specialists that are either expensive or hard-to-find where you are located. This is where ETM is the most efficient, allowing you to add members to your global team while concentrating on your core business needs. 

With team extension, you aren't overloading your current in-house developers with the tasks that require to be done (which prevents the danger of burn out) and yet the work isn't stalling either. 

Conclusion

Software outsourcing can be a tricky business sometimes. The main question you need to answer is what exactly you're looking for. 

  1. Time & Material - when you need the project to be done and you don't really have a preference for the technology
  2. Dedicated Team - when you need a team of developers who would be working only on your project and there's more choice usually with the technologies
  3. Extended Team - when you have a team of in-house developers but need to scale your team efficiently for either working on the same project or on an adjacent to your main product.

The decision is yours, but let us know if we can set up a call with you to discuss your particular requirements via Skype.

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