Umair Aziz is the Chief Technical and Innovation Office at Creative Chaos. For 18 years he has helped the full range of companies, from ambitious Startups to evolving global corporations, with their innovation delivery. Below he shares his insights, encouragement, and recommendations from hands-on experience with newly funded companies and projects…
Congratulations on the funding! Now What?
Pop the Champagne corks! Slice into that celebratory cake bearing your Startup’s logo! Offer some well-timed remarks about how the hard work of finding product-market fitness with your minimum viable product has been affirmed by the Series-A funding you’ve just secured… And then get serious about scaling your business.
You’ve had your core team waiting in the wings for that check to be signed, and now all systems are “Go, go, go!” While your development team launches into building out the features on your product backlog, you’ve got to keep the staffing engine going by talking with recruiters who can find you quality prospects – then interviewing and hiring new talent. But recruiting is incredibly time-consuming, and it can be very competitive and expensive, even if you’re situated outside of the most highly competitive marketplaces like San Francisco, New York, or Boston.
Many a founder have told us hiring is the most stressful part of their job, but you do it because you have no choice. You’ll want people who can start yesterday, but will consider yourself lucky if the recruiting process starts to pay dividends within three to six months, at best. In nearly all cases, the total time elapsed to hire enough to grow your team will not fit your company’s (or your investors’) aggressive growth schedule.
Are there alternatives? In a word, “No,” although some may tell you that outsourcing your product development is a viable approach. We say it’s not, and we’ll shout that from the rooftops. Here’s why: We’ve had countless conversations with prospective clients in the past, and almost every one of them has included at least a subset of the following frustrations around outsourcing:
– “We’ve outsourced in the past and it doesn’t work.”
– “When we outsource, we don’t know who we’re talking to.”
– “The timezone’s don’t work for us.”
– “We don’t have transparency. We don’t know what they’re doing or who’s working on.”
– “The quality is poor; fixing bad code requires too much time and effort. Its just not worth it!”
We agree that outsourcing is a dead-end arrangement. We know outsourcing doesn’t work because outsourcing is giving away ownership of some aspect of your business – the business you’ve worked so hard to build. It’s not something we recommend. Ever.
Instead, we at Creative Chaos have taken our 18-year track record of specializing in Innovation Delivery and Startup scaling and developed an entirely different model to help venture funded Startups with staff augmentation. Our model provides clients with the crucial software development expertise they need while preserving ownership of IP, workflows and processes within the company, and also eliminating the risks inherent to an outsourcing model.
We call this model the Creative Chaos Team Integration Framework
In engagement after engagement, we’ve demonstrated this unique approach to be a highly effective complement to a company’s recruiting plan. When we partner with you, we leverage our framework to match the work to the skill set of a team – rather than engage people who ‘fit a profile’ and assign them work. Then we integrate these resources into your company’s workflows, your company’s processes, and your company’s culture. We take care of the on-boarding and management, and we assume financial risk for the success of the engagement.
In fact, when assessing the need for customized staffing augmentation with a prospective client, we filter the viability of the potential partnership through the Team Integration Framework. In off-loading from our clients any uncertainty around success, we’re putting that risk on ourselves, so we have to be sure the potential engagement is a good fit.
Here’s how it works:
The Creative Chaos Team Integration Framework gives both scaling and mature companies an option for augmenting their development teams without taking on the untenable risk of outsourcing. Team Augmentation and Integration gives companies access to highly skilled and highly experienced developers who fit into your culture and your processes, and we hold ourselves to the standard of ramping up and producing high-quality work within the first 30 to 60 days.
Over the first month, we get to know your business, your needs, your processes and your culture. In our Global R&D Center, we set up a dedicated development team experienced in Agile. Or, for added flexibility, we can assemble a team that reflects your ideal composition – hybrid (onshore + remote); remote only; or onsite + remote. Regardless of the composition, we integrate the team with your site, but we take care of administration and management. At the same time, you retain full control over product development and the team. Best of all, we insure your risk! Our promise to you is that we will be delivering value within two months. In the unlikely event that we are unable to demonstrate success and impact within 30-60 days, you get your money back. It’s that simple and that elegant.
Through our extensive experience, we know that successful Team Augmentation and Integration depends on understanding and satisfying the differing requirements of multiple stakeholders:
VPs and executive leadership care about finding a credible partner that can help scale development. They don’t have time to experiment; they want to see impact within 30-60 days. They are most concerned with contracts and costs, as well as safeguarding the company’s intellectual property.
We understand that VPs and executives will judge our partnership with their company on the value we create for their business. They turn to us because of our company’s 17-year track record of specializing in Innovation Delivery and helping Startups scale. They value our uncompromising approach to IP protection and appreciate the flexibility we build into our contracts, allowing clients to scale up or scale down our engagement at just a single month’s notice.
Product and project managers need to make decisions that increase velocity and productivity. They are looking for a partner that can help deliver new features and keep up with rapidly changing market and customer needs. Managers are looking for a proven approach to integrating teams, transferring knowledge and managing deliverables, all without increasing workload. Above all, they care about finding a partner they can trust – one that consistently delivers on its commitments.
Product and project managers see value in our structured approach to learning about their business, customers, environment, tools, processes, and challenges. They appreciate the transparency we provide in communication and management, and they feel comfortable with the flexibility we offer in adopting Agile or crafting custom-Agile workflows that fit well with the company’s development teams. Above all, they see the positive impact we make on their business.
Team leads and developers need help executing on the less glamorous but ever important tasks, including bug fixes, testing, and tackling the ever-growing product backlog. They want to feel equally confident in their partner’s ability to take on areas that are mundane as well as the areas that require further development. They care most about working with really smart and committed developers who can learn quickly and add value without wasting anyone’s time.
At the Execution level, team leads and developers concentrate on building cohesive teams that are dependable. We focus on building trust in everything we do, and we know we are only as good as our people. We engage in rigorous hiring and training processes designed to bring our resources up to speed quickly. We do this at our cost, and in the rare case we discover a non-performer among our ranks, we replace them at our cost. We know that trust and dependability are codependent. We uphold our commitments no matter what: We deliver what we promise, when we promise it. We hold quality on the highest pedestal, and rail against mediocrity.
Team Integration is not about occupying a permanent position in your technology stack. It’s quite the opposite. We seek opportunities for finite engagements that may last for several years, so we know that all stakeholder groups must be in sync on the perception of value from our involvement with your company. The beauty of the Team Integration Framework is that all parties have skin in the game. You don’t want to lose precious time to adding resources that don’t pay off, just as we don’t want to take the financial hit for four or eight weeks of a dysfunctional engagement.
At the bottom line, we probably spend more time evaluating potential engagements than our clients spend evaluating us. If you’re looking to outsource to wash your hands of specific technology challenges and headaches, we are not the resource for you. If you’re eyeing us as a source of labor for low-margin work, we are not your guys. Companies choose us because we have a proven framework that allows them to scale their capacity and solve problems aligned with their business interests – not when they are looking to opt out of core technology functions.
Staffing augmentation through our Team Integration Framework can help alleviate the pressures that venture-funded technology companies feel as they work to scale quickly. If you’re interested in exploring staffing options that will satisfy your executive leaders, your managers, and your team leads, all while building value for your growing company, give us a call. We’d like to talk.
Give us a call: David Cutler is our Managing Director and can connect you to some wonderfully helpful people here: firstname.lastname@example.org 617-331-7852
More on us at CreativeChaos.co