Business Unusual: Hiring & Team Cohesion

Katie Hurst:
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to our small business series, Business Unusual. My name is Katie Hurst and I’m the Director of Communications at Ruby. Today I’m joined by Damien Filiatrault, the CEO of Scalable Path.

Business Unusual: Hiring & Team Cohesion

Diving deeper into staff augmentation, outsourcing, and working with freelancers, Ruby’s Director of Strategic Communications, Katie Hurst, continues her interview with Damien Filiatrault, Founder and CEO of Scalable Path. 

Katie Hurst:
Okay, so we talked about some benefits. Let’s talk about some of the challenges that can come along and how businesses can mitigate those risks.

Damien Filiatrault:
Okay. I think one of the biggest challenges, even for the companies like mine or like yours, is finding and hiring the right people. The good news is that companies like yours and mine, we specialize in doing that, and we have internal teams who have a pipeline of people who are always being vetted and ready to deploy on client projects. We’re specialists at finding good people for these roles. So you can just piggyback on that and not have to have that whole workload on your HR department, if you even have an HR department. So if you work with platforms like Scalable Path or Ruby, you can just use their vetting process and make sure you get good people.

Damien Filiatrault:
Another thing that can be a challenge, and this is really coming from a remote perspective, is communication and collaboration. I think this is something that people are facing regardless of whether they’re outsourcing, but it’s particularly relevant because you will likely be remote if you’re outsourcing, especially in software development. You need to set up tools and processes to make sure that you’re going to succeed. For software development, you’ve got to have a task-tracking software like Trello or Jira or maybe Basecamp. You’ve got to have good online meetings and collaborations. So you might use Zoom or Hangouts or GoToMeeting, and have a regular check-in scheduled to make sure that you’re communicating about what needs to be done and what has been done. Tools like Slack for group chat are really great. So you’ve got to have the right tool set in place to succeed.

Damien Filiatrault:
Those are my two primary ones. For some, I think a lot of people, when they think about outsourcing, it’s more short-term or they’re not really considering that person part of their core team. But some companies do, like a lot of our clients, they consider their developers who are from Scalable Path part of their team. One thing that we’ve found as an entirely virtual company is you really have to make an effort to build a team culture when everyone’s remote. It just doesn’t happen naturally around the water cooler or going out to lunch like it normally would.

Damien Filiatrault:
So if you care about that, you have to make an effort and to get to know people and get people together on meetings. Maybe things we do is we will have just a random channel in Slack for sharing random, funny things that people can laugh about together. Or we actually, one of our team members started a book club where people can vote on what book they’re going to read and then discuss it. It’s not easy to do. Maybe you get people together annually for an on-site meeting or off-site, but you do have to make an effort at that if that’s part of your outsourcing plan.

Katie Hurst:
Do you think that that’s important when you’re outsourcing roles? It was someone who maybe isn’t permanent or they have an understanding that it’s temporary?

Damien Filiatrault:
Well, it depends how long, right? If you’re looking to keep that person around for a while, I think it is important, because people are humans and they want to enjoy their work. They want to get along with people that they’re working with. They want to feel they belong. They want to feel like they’re a part of something. They will be more productive if they feel comfortable around their colleagues. They won’t feel hesitant to reach out if they have a question. So, yeah, I think if they’re a part of the team, you want to do team building. Yeah.

Katie Hurst:
There’s probably a trust factor there too, that with someone that you’re regularly interacting with, you can trust that they’re going to come to you with problems or challenges, versus if someone doesn’t have a connection or relationship with you, they might not flag those issues to you right away. They might wait. So there is some important piece of culture that allows everyone to do their jobs better, even if someone isn’t necessarily going to be there long-term.

Damien Filiatrault:
Yeah. Yeah, I’d say that’s true.

Katie Hurst:
So what kind of roles should companies consider potentially outsourcing versus what maybe they shouldn’t? Are there other types of tasks that maybe a business should definitely be outsourcing or really shouldn’t?

Damien Filiatrault:
Yeah. First thing that comes to mind is, is it your core business? The more it is your core business, that doesn’t mean you can’t outsource it, it just means it’s less of a slam dunk. If you’re a, let’s say, I don’t know, a dentist. You probably not good … You don’t like answering the phone. You want to clean people’s teeth or do fillings. If you’re a, we have clients who sell insurance. They want to sell insurance. They don’t want to deal with maintaining their website and their web application. So the more that it’s not your core business, the more it makes sense to outsource. And some things are so commonly outsourced that we don’t even consider bringing in-house, like legal, janitorial, accounting. Sometimes that’s on the fence, but those are things that are slam dunks for outsourcing. The more it gets into your core business, the more of a question it is.

Damien Filiatrault:
Another question is, how easy is it to do remotely? If it’s easy to do remotely, that’s a check mark in the column of, yeah, let’s consider outsourcing this, because it’s a lot easier to do. When something can be done remotely, you can take advantage of a lot of a wider talent pool. If you’re in a metro area in the United States where it costs a lot of money to live, if it can be done remotely and you can outsource to another country, or even just a less expensive part of the United States, you can save money that way.

Katie Hurst:
So it sounds like based on what you said: Is it a part of your core business? Can it be done remotely? Is it a senior role versus something that it could be more easily outsourced? Short-term versus long-term? And then the ease of the communication. That’s at least three more things than I would have thought of. So I love your thoroughness there.

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