Don't Get Tripped Up: 6 Team Extension Mistakes

team extension mistakes

Maintaining an agile tech team is a must, but nowadays finding tech talent can be challenging. The need to stay ahead of the curve has prompted many organisations towards exploring alternative hiring methods - such as remote team extension.

Team extension is a strategic approach which involves hiring external professionals who usually work on a remote basis alongside your internal team to expand capacity, boost your project and improve productivity.

Although team extension can be advantageous for some projects, one should keep in mind that it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. And failing to execute it right can do more harm than good.

That’s why we decided to look at the most common team extension mistakes that we’ve seen first-hand to help you avoid any setbacks when extending your internal team.

So let’s get straight to the point.

Mistake #1: Insufficient team integration

One common pitfall in team extension is not involving extended team members in the whole process. Failing to fully integrate them into your internal team and organisational structure can cause a major disconnect when it comes to their understanding of your business, processes and high-level goals.

So where do leaders go wrong with this? Some look at team extension as a separate entity rather than an integral part of their team. But it’s important to bridge the gap between your internal and external team members to build a cohesive team who’s working towards the same goal.

You need to create a sense of teamwork and shared ownership of the project. Especially if external team members will be working on critical components or for an extended period of time.

By involving them in the whole process you can leverage their professional opinions and experience. Let them bring fresh new ideas and different perspectives to the table rather than just expecting them to execute blindly.

So how to avoid this? Make sure you use shared communication channels, have meetings with the whole team and promote transparency in project planning and execution.

Mistake #2: Lack of clarity on project goals and roadmap

By entering into a team extension partnership with no plan or unclear objectives you’re setting yourself up for failure. Lack of clarity can quickly lead to confusion, wasted time and resources, and above all unsatisfactory results.

Laying out a clear plan for action will help you go into team extension well-prepared to assign roles and tasks to your new team members so they know exactly what to work on, and what their priorities are.

This way you’ll reap the full benefits of increased productivity and performance that comes with team extension, not the other way around. Having a prioritised backlog of tasks will ensure that team members won’t run out of things to do.

Mistake #3: Failure to set expectations upfront

When it comes to extending your team, there are a few key ingredients for success: transparency, good communication and setting clear expectations.

Failure to set expectations early on in the process may lead to misunderstandings further down the road. A good practice would be to voice your expectations, needs and concerns from the get-go so everyone is on the same page.

Laying out your expectations and requirements clearly during the first call with prospective providers will allow for alignment from both sides, setting realistic goals and reasonable timelines.

One of the added benefits of team extension is flexibility so you can always expect that there will be room for adjustments if the initial expectations or requirements change. So don’t let that conversation be a one-time event.

You should make a point to revisit and reinforce set expectations throughout the project. This will help keep everyone accountable and ensure the project stays on track. Communication should be ongoing, and any changes or updates communicated promptly so everyone is aware of any adjustments in expectations, timelines or budget.

This is also another good example of why integrating your external team members fully into the process is crucial (circling back to mistake #1 😉).

Mistake #4: Fixating on cost and cost only

We are fully aware that cost is often a deciding factor, not only with team extension, but any business decision really. And while price is definitely a key consideration, you should weigh it against the value you'll receive.

It may be tempting to go for the cheapest quote possible, but that isn’t alway the best option in terms of value. Keep in mind that providers who quote rock-bottom prices might be sacrificing quality in order to cut costs. This could result in delays, subpar work, or the need for revisions which can end up costing you more in the long run.

It’s also worth noting that if you need to hire a new team, it’s highly likely that they would have to start from scratch. This will not only increase costs but also result in wasted time and effort.

Instead, when considering a prospective software development partner, factor their expertise, experience, location, quality of past work and track record of delivering projects on time and within budget. This will help you make a well-informed decision that fits your budget and gives you the most value for your money.

Mistake #5: Underestimating cultural differences

Depending on where your extended team is located, cultural differences may come into play. Different cultures have distinct communication styles, work practices and values that can impact how team members work together.

Failing to account for cultural differences in your team can have a negative impact on team dynamics and project outcome. These are more likely to occur if you’re working with an offshore provider rather than a nearshore one.

Having a cross-cultural team is not a bad thing by any means. On the contrary, according to McKinsey research, diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35%. It’s just a matter of managing a diverse team effectively.

So how can you prevent cultural differences taking a toll on your extended team? Building a strong and effective team requires more than just assigning tasks and hoping for the best. To truly leverage the skills and personalities of each team member, take the time to get to know them individually.

Promoting open communication and organising team building activities if possible is also a good way for team members to get to know each other, bond and feel as a one team. It's also important to clearly define each team member's role and responsibilities to ensure collaboration without stepping on each other's toes. And that’d be easier if you’ve already accounted for mistake #2. 👀

Mistake #6: Getting locked in a fixed, long-term contract

Team extension should be agile and flexible, allowing you to scale up or down as needed. However, one common mistake that a lot of leaders make when it comes to team extension is getting tied to big, fixed contracts for a long period of time.

But what happens when changes occur or someone isn’t performing up to standard? It’s a lot harder to make adjustments or pivot when you’re locked into a contract for the next 3 years. Plus, it’s not exactly cost-effective either.

By signing a long-term contract, you are essentially locking yourself into a position that may not suit your business in the long run. Make sure you carefully read the contract agreement and ask prospective providers how flexible they are if project requirements and business needs change.

You might be thinking that this is common practice, but there might be hidden clauses that you can easily miss. Always read the small print and look for team extension providers who value and place great emphasis on flexibility, transparency, follow agile methodologies, and can adapt swiftly to changes in requirements.

Key takeaway

Team extension is a great way to fill in talent gaps in your tech team and keep moving forward. However, it’s important to approach team extension with a carefully thought-out plan of the desired skill sets, vetting processes, and potential pitfalls.

At the end of the day, successful team extension largely depends on having a well-planned strategy and a strong partnership between the internal and external teams. As you explore team extension as a hiring option, remember to approach it with a critical eye and a willingness to adapt your strategy as needed.

Our team specialises in helping startups, SMEs and enterprises extend their tech teams. We’d be more than happy to answer any questions or address any concerns. Drop us a line!


Team Extension
David Stellini

17th May 2023