Over the past 30 years, we have witnessed the innovation of everyday products on a historic scale. This innovation has transformed even our most basic institutional, cultural, social norms and practices — and it’s happening faster than ever before. For example, the data storage market saw this as floppy disks evolved into CDs, CDs evolved into flash drives, and flash drives evolved into cloud storage all within a few decades. Technological breakthroughs that can be deemed lifechanging are constantly emerging. Competition is now a factor that even the largest enterprises have to take into consideration; and with agile startups hubbed all throughout the world, those enterprises are just one disruptive idea away from meeting their maker.
In a world where even the smallest of teams can bring a competitive advantage to the table, what makes for a winning innovation formula? Conventional wisdom tells us to play it safe by developing organizational strategies that yield proven results. We’re supposed to “follow these guidelines,” adhere to business models, and prioritize incremental growth. These were our former models of innovation, but times have changed.
Coming from a large enterprise, it can be difficult to make such an abrupt shift in your company’s culture. Therefore, it may be time to consider augmenting your staff with highly versatile, highly experienced talent in the form of consultants, freelancers, and other professional contractors. Innovation is happening at a faster rate than we can keep up with. By augmenting your staff with fresh talent that bring new ideas to the table, it can help your business stay ahead of the curve.
Staff Augmentation on the Surface
Staff augmentation is a fairly new concept of outsourcing that involves infusing your business with skilled professionals that can help your internal innovation team “think outside the box.” This is mainly due to the fact that these professionals don’t fall under the constraints of your company’s norms and expectations.
Think about it. Your internal staff has been trained under a certain structure with the stakeholders and consumers best interests in mind — which is fine, but this applied structure may discourage them from taking risks and inhibit innovative ideas. Augmented staffers are hired on to help a business’ internal team analyze trends and revisit an industry’s best practices. This can help breathe new life into your team, and reach business objectives faster and more efficiently.
Advantages of Staff Augmentation
It’s no surprise that the IT market leads all professional fields in staff augmentation. With overall budget increases in 2017, and a reported 5% compound annual growth rate in staff augmentation¹, businesses are realizing a shift in the workforce. Aside from bulking up your innovation team, augmenting your staff can provide numerous other advantages:
- Time and money – Training internal full-time staff members or new hires can be a timely process, and hiring new talent can be quite costly. Staff augmentation guarantees you’re putting an experienced candidate in the seat, bypasses lengthy HR practices for finding the right fit, and provides project managers more control during the hiring process.
- Avoids internal conflict – Fully outsourcing projects can create tension and bitterness amongst your team. Combining the talents and knowledge of both internal staff and augmented staffers will give you the best of both worlds. After all, your internal members are essential for keeping a grounded understanding of the objectives for your business and stakeholders.
- Limiting risk – Because not nearly as many internal resources are being spent on your augmented staffers, the benefits almost always outweigh the risks. Augmented employees are contingent workers. If your objectives are not being met, just know there is no long-term commitment, and that employee can be quickly and easily replaced with new talent.
Staff Augmentation Meets Innovation
One of the biggest reasons why more and more large enterprises are failing at innovation is because their processes are too slow and too calculated. We live in an age where the most innovative ideas are based in some form of risk — and the highest risks may yield the best results.
Startups are great at replicating effective innovation formulas because they don’t have the constraints that most large enterprises have, i.e. there aren’t millions of dollars, jobs, and stakeholders on the line. This is not to say that all high-risk ideas are innovative. As a matter of fact, most won’t even leave the drawing board. But where startups succeed is taking risks and moving quickly on ideas they feel are innovative.
Allow for creative thought. If there’s one thing our Sphere Software teams has learned about innovation, it’s that one size does not fit all. Don’t allow a rigid set of norms to inhibit innovation. Because of our fast-moving society, and increased expectations from consumers, it is up to a business to predict where the ball will fall, analyze the risk, and move quickly. Boost your enterprise with a startup mentality and make this possible through IT staff augmentation. Make it clear to both your internal staff and contingent employees what the business objectives are, and you’d be surprised by how effective that brainstorming session will be.