A common concern of businesses preparing to work with external software developers is ensuring smooth cooperation. While technological fit and good communication solve most potential problems, choosing the right model of cooperation can be just as, if not more, impactful. The two main options are: team extension and a dedicated development team. In this article, we’ll take a look at how they differ, and give you the tools to pick the best option for your project.
A brief note on terminology: we’ll be using the term team extension and team augmentation interchangeably. iRonin.IT uses both models of cooperation, each time helping the client choose the one that will work best. We believe that one isn’t universally better than the other. It’s important to weight the pros and cons for every project individually.
Team augmentation - what it is and what it’s not
Also known as the team extension model (or TEM), team augmentation means that at least one (but often more) developer with a specific skillset joins your project team to fill an expertise gap or to improve development speed. They work directly with your team, as though they were an employee.
An important element of this type of cooperation is the vetting process. The client always knows exactly who is going to join their project, what past commercial experience they have, what they specialize in, and so on. This allows you to make the best informed choice for your business.
Pros and cons of team extension
By augmenting your team with one or more developers’ expertise, you arm yourself with the means to deliver a successful project while retaining full control over the process. The project’s communication flow will be simplified, because there will be no need for external project management. Because team augmentation implies a closer collaboration between you and the additional developers - on an individual rather than a team level - it is sometimes easier to maintain high team engagement and sense of ownership with this model.
Another important benefit of the team extension model is that, once the project is done, you will be able to keep strategic competences in-house. It’s also a very flexible cooperation framework. You can, if you so choose, use team extension to fill a temporary gap, only until you can hire the right person for the job internally.
Outsourcing work to a dedicated development team
A dedicated development team (or DDT) is usually hired to take care of the entire software development process for a product. The external team will be a separate entity, functioning at least partially according to its own rules. Though many companies are happy to adjust their workflow to each client’s specific needs, much of their strength lies in the know-how and process they bring to the table. They will also require minimal management on your side.
Outsourcing with this model means maximizing your business productivity while a technology partner takes over developing your product. In iRonin.IT’s case, we provide developers (from regulars to seniors), designers, project managers, and QA specialists. We have an established process with a well-tested communication flow and effective quality assurance.
Some of our clients are located in the US and work in a different time zone. We use this to our advantage by providing results just as the client’s business day begins - which earned us the nickname “Night Samurais” from a US client. And as a company that has been remote-first for over a decade, we know how to manage long-distance cooperation and communication.
Pros and cons of dedicated teams
One big benefit of working with a fully outsourced team is their efficiency. This begins before they even start working - the hiring process is really breezy. The company you’ll work with will choose the right team members for your project, which means you won’t need to verify every individual developer’s skillset. Once that’s done, you can trust an outsourced team to have a tight process and workflow. They work together regularly, so they know what to expect from each other and they can deliver results incredibly quickly.
Though it may not seem so at first glance, working with a dedicated team can give you a lot of flexibility and opportunities to reduce costs. iRonin.IT, for example, offers flexible engagement. This means that you don’t sign up to pay for one team composition for the entire duration of the project. Instead, your team members can be rotated in and out, or supplemented as needed. During a stage in the project when development is slowed down by external factors, you can have one or two developers working on the things that can be pushed forward. Then, when the timing is right, your team can expand to a full set of developers of various levels of expertise and work at a high speed for two months, for example, before scaling down once more.
The cons of this model are pretty subjective. You might say that you need to relinquish some control over the development process, but the result is that you can focus on your actual business. The communication flow may become more complex, but since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many of our clients have been glad to use our tips for better online collaboration.
Comparing the two cooperation models
| | Team extension | Dedicated team |
| ---------------------------------------------- | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | ------------------------------------------------------------------ |
| Control over development process | Fully in the hands of the client | Shared between the client and the contractor |
| Communication flow | Internal | Partially external |
| Cooperation style | Personal engagement | Highly efficient process |
| Hiring process | Requires individual & team fit verification | Very fast |
| Development speed | Dependent on team size and the client’s organizing efforts | Highly efficient |
| Time investment | Requires regular management | Client involvement is welcome but required only at specific stages |
| Responsibility for the project | Rests largely on the client | Is taken on by the team |
| Flexibility | High | High if the contract allows it |
| Additional services (QA, infrastructure, etc.) | Dependent on the skillset available among the client’s team and the additional developers | Arranged by the contractor |
Real life example 1: a dedicated development team
When Batida, a modern bakery chain and catering provider, needed a new ecommerce store, they chose to work with a dedicated project team. They lacked the IT expertise necessary to complete such a project internally. They needed a partner to take care of the technical aspects of building a new platform, while Batida’s team focused on what they excel at: sales, marketing and creating incredibly tasty products. iRonin.IT provided them with a designer and developers, changing our level of engagement to match the client’s needs. We delivered designs and functionalities that would be more user-friendly for online customers than Batida’s previous platform.
- Fast development with Shopify,
- UX/UI and SEO optimization for e-commerce,
- UI design,
- Custom PayU integration,
- Custom plugins.
Real life example 2: team augmentation
In the case of Creditspring, a membership-based loan platform, the client needed us to complete a specific task: improve the code quality and security of an operational web app. Through close cooperation with Creditspring, we determined that DevOps and R&D experience was needed. Team augmentation was the best choice for this project, as the client already had technical expertise on board. We were able to tackle the challenge quickly and delivered satisfying results, which became the basis for long-term cooperation. Over the years, we’ve supported Creditspring across a number of projects, involving expertise ranging from DevOps through software development to UX design.
- UX improvement,
- Quality assurance with time-related testing scenarios,
- External integrations,
- Custom Heroku configuration.
Are you ready to start working on a new IT project? Let us know!
iRonin.IT’s experts work through team extension or as dedicated teams, always matching the needs of the client.