At Serengeti, we use something called The Team Extension Model. (Here is also a video about the model.) The model was developed because our founder saw companies desperately try to find software development help, but not be able to find a group of developers that was both flexible and had expertise.
The common problems you run into trying to scale up a developer team are these:
You bring in outsourced development teams: … and the teams have different processes than your organization, different leadership, and it never feels like a good fit.
Those were the four big problems. Entrepreneurs solve problems. So here’s what we wanted to set out to do:
Over time, we’ve managed to successfully build this -- for about 10 years now. We have 150+ engineers who hold 300+ certifications, with 43% of our available developers at the “lead” level and another 28% at the senior level.
The general process is that we begin onsite. This is starting to happen more again as some countries have better vaccination and immunity rates, but it’s been happening recently on video chat. The onsite portion of the relationship is about knowledge transfer, explaining priorities and goals, and team-building. There is an idea called “grafting,” which means it’s not just about how good the developers are -- they need to become part of the team. That’s what we try to accomplish in the onsite phase.
In the onsite portion, we also learn management structures, application background, programming technologies, and look at previous builds and infrastructure, while talking to the existing team about what’s gone right (and hasn’t) on previous deployments.
The second phase is the transition phase. The ambassadors from the onsite portion become the team leads, and we get to work. Here are a few examples of recent projects.
The biggest benefits of this system are best seen at different levels of an organization:
One concern we do hear sometimes from prospects is “Well, Serengeti has all this expertise among developers, but what if someone leaves Serengeti or has a kid and goes on leave, or something?” Well, first of all, not a lot of developers leave Serengeti. Our turnover rates are very strong. We do, though, have a Shadow Developer Program, which allows junior developers to shadow a senior/lead developer and get up to speed on projects faster. We designed it as a way to help with quicker onboarding, but the added benefit is that if someone goes on maternity or paternity leave, we can immediately plug someone else on your project without interruption.
That’s a little bit about how the process of extending your team into our team as one team works. What other questions do you have? Feel free to reach out.