The Nearshore Lowdown: Choosing a Staffing Firm

In today’s golden era of remote work, there are many ways to scale your team, including onshoring, offshoring, and—our favorite—nearshoring. (For a refresher on these staffing models, check out our article here!) But once you’ve decided on a staffing model, what comes next? In this article, we’ll cover how to find a nearshore staffing firm you can trust.

The Scenario

You’ve decided nearshoring is a good option for your company, but how do you find a good staffing firm you can trust? After all, when you partner with a staff augmentation firm to scale your team, you’re taking a risk! If the firm doesn’t deliver quality candidates, that’s time you’ll never get back.

Before diving into what factors to consider when choosing a firm, let’s first revisit some key definitions.

  • Staff augmentation: a new type of outsourcing where contractors are integrated into your in-house team, reporting directly to you and actively collaborating with your permanent employees. This differs from traditional outsourcing, where you trust an external team and project manager to complete a project from start to finish, with no direct oversight from you.
  • Nearshore: Nearshore contractors are located in a country near to yours, in a time zone that’s compatible with your in-house team’s. Working hours are the same, or overlap significantly. This prevents delays with communication and work progress. For North American businesses, their nearshore contractors tend to be located in Latin America.

So nearshore staff augmentation is when staff located in a nearby country work together with your existing in-house team to collaborate for a period of time. Firms like Jobsity do not supply contractors on a project basis; instead, we envision these augmented staff as long-term partners to your in-house team.

When considering staff augmentation firms, you should be vetting them thoroughly up-front, to avoid headaches down the line due to unforeseen complications and disappointments. Make sure your negotiations cover these topics: credentials, screening processes, costs, team integration, training, retention, and testimonials.

Credentials

When considering a staffing firm’s suitability, their credentials should be at the top of your list. What is the company’s role in the tech industry? Who spearheads the company, and how do they set company culture? How deep and established is their experience in the industry?

The firm’s online presence on social media and their website should clearly demonstrate their work style, company culture, and specialties. It should be clear how they can add value to your company through their services. If a particular firm fails to clearly communicate how they can help companies like yours, then that’s not the firm for you!

Vetting Process

When it comes to managing distributed team members (your nearshore staff), both hard and soft skills matter. After all, no two people—especially software developers—are identical; they don’t all look and act the same. This is where soft skills—like critical thinking, collaboration, and clear communication—emerge as a top priority when hiring.

How do the firm’s recruiters screen applicants for such vital skills? What’s their recruitment process? How do they put interested candidates to the test, and who makes the grade? When the workload ramps up, can this company quickly provide additional staff?

You should also ask how the firm chooses which staff to partner with which of their clients. What skills (both technical and social) do they keep in mind? Is this partnership selection automated, or done manually and with care?

These may seem like small details, but they can compound to create big problems down the line.

Costs

If a firm’s credentials seem solid, and their recruitment and matching processes are well thought out, next you need to consider price. After all, scaling your team is an investment.

How much does the firm charge for the types of staff and services you need? Is their pricing transparent, or are there lots of auxiliary costs (e.g. training, equipment) in addition to base expenses? You deserve to know how much you’ll be paying up-front.

Team Integration

Next, how easily will the firm’s augmented staff be able to integrate with your in-house team? Every project has a lot of moving parts, especially when it comes to software engineering. If even one part is delayed, the entire team feels the effects. The ideal staff augmentation firm should empower you to manage its workers directly, as part of your own team.

And when it comes to problem solving and conflict resolution, the ideal firm should have a fluent understanding of your company’s home culture and language. If they don’t, they will likely struggle to connect you with candidates who can comfortably work alongside your permanent employees.

Training & Upskilling

You also need to be sure that the firm you partner with specializes in the skills you need. Ask about the exact programs, software, platforms, and experience you think the augmented staff will need to be proficient in. If you aren’t sure which skills your in-house team needs help with, ask them! You want to make sure your augmented staff are able to contribute in practical ways and meet those skill gaps in your existing team.

Also consider what level of experience you expect from your nearshore staff. Are you adding seasoned professionals who can hit the ground running? Or do you want to take on junior staff who have some baseline knowledge and give them the opportunity to grow?

Also ask how the firm trains their staff. What’s their onboarding process? Is there a “boot camp” that vets team members' advanced skills with short, intensive training sessions?

And what about upskilling programs? Continuous education is crucial for many modern industries, especially tech. Be sure to ask what the firm's strategy is for keeping their staff's skills sharp.

Retention

It's disappointing when you take on staff only for them to leave soon after. When contracting outsourced talent, there’s always a fear that they won’t be a long term solution for a team’s problem. This means it’s crucial to know how long your augmented staff are available to support your in-house team. Have you agreed to one project, to three months, a year?

Also be sure to ask the firm what their retention rates are. How long has the average staffer partnered with a given client? How long has the average staffer been a member of the firm?

If upwards of 10% of the firm’s team leaves annually, that’s a red flag. Ask your potential firm to explain this high turnover rate, as it could indicate a systemic problem that can put your projects at risk.

Client Testimonials

When making the final decision, be sure to consider client testimonials. Who has the firm worked with in the past, and what was the client’s experience?

How long has the average client been partnered with the firm? Would the client recommend them? Are they still working together? Long term partnerships are a good sign that the firm is trustworthy and worth your investment of time and money.

Also be on the lookout for clients who share your own company’s size and industry. See how the firm has catered to clients like yours, and whether the partnership helped those clients thrive.

Wrap Up

With the rise of staff augmentation and nearshoring, there are multiple staffing firms to choose from. How do you know which is best for you? It’s not a decision to make lightly.

When booking consultations and negotiating contracts, make sure your discussions cover credentials, screening processes, costs, team integration, training, retention, and testimonials. Then you can be confident your staffing partner will help take your team to the next level!

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