Choosing an IT Staffing Agency in Six Easy Steps

Quick Summary - Choosing an IT staffing agency for your company requires some more work. You might think that the success of your software project depends on your developers and engineers. If so, you’d be half right. But, it’s the other half of the equation that frequently causes most of the problems.

Choosing an IT Staffing Agency in Six Easy Steps

Why software projects fail

Successful projects, according to the Project Management Institute, must be delivered on time, under budget, and work as intended. Additionally, the project owner must be happy with it, and people must actually use it to achieve the business goals behind it. In their 2017 Pulse of the Profession, their top five reasons why projects fail are as follows:

  • Changes in organization priorities – 41%
  • Inaccurate requirements gathering – 39%
  • Change in project objectives – 36%
  • Inadequate vision or goal for the project – 30%
  • Inadequate or poor communication – 30%

All of these points imply insufficient due diligence was conducted – to define the project requirements in sufficient detail that it will work as intended and achieve its business goals. If the requirements are wrong, the product will have problems. Thus preparing an SRS falls in the lap of project owners and managers, not developers.

A six-step plan for selecting an IT staffing agency

All five reasons for failure can be largely avoided with a thorough investigation of your software project’s requirements. Due diligence is an investigation to understand all of the facts around an investment ostensibly to identify obstacles that can hinder ROI. It’s like making sure a vehicle can make it around the block before buying it. Software projects are usually more complex. In this case, choosing an IT staffing agency that’s right for your project and business.

1. Create your Software Requirement Specification (SRS)

This document defines the features, functions, and conditions for your software project. It needs to include the interests of all stakeholders – to define the business requirements, key metrics, user personas, and more. It details the technologies and programming languages that should be used, and a lot more. The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs has a free SRS template that you can download. It is a detailed document, but it will be used throughout the entire development effort of your project.

Companies lacking technical expertise may resort to identifying comparable software already on the market as a starting point. An example of what you are looking to create is usually sufficient for an IT staffing agency to connect you with someone who can help you develop the SRS. It is still needed because it identifies the positions, skill sets, and expertise of the people you will need – software developers, software engineers, full-stack developers, UI/UX designers, data scientists, machine learning specialists, etc.

2. Define other requirements

Beyond your SRS, other issues can be important when evaluating which IT Staffing Agency to work with:

  • Are they fluent in your language? Most devs speak English but certain accents can be far more difficult to understand than others.
  • Time-zone disparity. You’ll want at least four overlapping work hours per day.
  • Willingness to commit to Service Level Agreements – most agencies are, but you may have reasons to insist on using yours.
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3. Create a shortlist of IT staffing agencies

The right IT staffing agency for your project isn’t the cheapest or most expensive. It is the one that best matches your requirements. Before making any decision, examine 8 to 12 outsourcing agencies in the process of creating a shortlist of 3 to 5 good matches

Start this off by asking business associates, colleagues, and developers about agencies they would recommend. Search for online reviews of IT employment agencies via Google, LinkedIn, Clutch, and other IT service directories. If they fit your requirements, make sure to grab their email address and phone number.

4. Email Staffing Agencies

It’s likely best to create a single email for all of the agencies on your shortlist. Keep this simple, it only needs to include:

  • A brief introduction on your project and staffing requirements.
  • Three of your most important questions, which you can pull from the list below.
  • Ask for contact details to their other clients that you can talk to.
  • Ask to arrange for a time to talk to cover additional questions.

The main goal here is to see how responsive they are via email and how well they answer your questions. If they don’t respond within one business day or don’t answer your questions, cross them off. They simply are not responsive to new clients.

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5. Questions to ask when talking to staffing agency representatives

The next task is to see if the agencies on your list are informed, satisfy more of your requirements, and are capable of establishing a rapport with you. When calling them, you will want to have four or five questions ready. Project requirements vary and so should the questions you ask to see how well their agency meets them. Just make sure to take notes so you have a record to compare against afterward.

We’ve emphasized in bold questions that we feel are always good to ask.

 

  1. How long has your agency been in business?
  2. What kind of companies do you usually serve?
  3. Have you serviced any projects like mine before?
  4. How do you measure client satisfaction and what is your client satisfaction rate?
  5. What do you expect of your clients?
  6. Are your rates higher or lower than the industry average, and why?
  7. What’s the size of your talent pool?
  8. Do you have skilled candidates for each of the positions defined in my project summary?
  9. How do you find candidates and what is your vetting process?
  10. What type of background screenings are you able to perform?
  11. Are the developers actual employees of your firm or independent contractors?
  12. Will the developers working on my project be assigned to any other projects?
  13. What was your turnover rate last year?
  14. Will you inform me in advance of any upcoming changes to my team?
  15. What project management software and team collaboration tools do you use?
  16. What are your policies regarding Service Level Agreements?
  17. What tools do you use to track and ensure software code quality?
  18. How do you handle team members who are not performing up to standard?
  19. How do you ensure your staff does not engage in sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace?
  20. How do you ensure your staff complies with NDA’s and client technology policies?
  21. Do you provide your teams with any sort of ongoing training?
  22. Are there any cultural issues that I should be aware of with your team?
  23. What provisions exist for directly hiring members of your staffing team?
  24. How do you handle payment disputes?
  25. What distinguishes your agency as better than others?

6. Select your IT staffing agency

By reaching this point, you’re should have a good idea about how well each IT staffing agency you’ve spoken with meets your requirements. If none of the agencies you’ve spoken with meet your requirements, you may need to repeat the process and widen your search. You might also need to evaluate what to do if there’s a specific hurdle no one’s crossed.

If you’re stuck with deciding between two equally good IT staffing agencies, conduct another round of questions. If you’ve found one that you really like, you’re free to start ironing out a Service Level Agreement with them. You’re not locked into anything until you sign the contract. By putting the effort into finding an IT staffing agency with the qualified staff needed to cover your project requirements, you’ve doubled your project’s chances for success.

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