How Gigster Engineering uses elastic staffing to develop our own product
November 15, 2021
For years, Gigster has successfully used elastic teams and just-in-time staffing to deliver thousands of successful digital milestones for our clients. When I first came to Gigster, I knew The Gigster Way had worked for many use cases, but I wasn’t quite convinced this concept could work for building a core product. Because, as we know, building a core product and finding product-market-fit all at the same time requires seriously skilled, motivated, and dedicated talent. Talent who are invested in the Product vision and direction, and are not just looking for the next gig.
Almost a year later, as we build out a cloud version of the Gigster Platform, I’m proud to say that Gigster Engineering is the biggest fan of The Gigster Way and that we use our well-proven model of elastic staffing to hire and build our teams, exactly because it lets us hire just-in-time talent to fit our growing need, and especially those who are also the best motivated.
Hiring top-notch team members is especially critical in a startup, given tight budgets and short timelines to prove out your product’s market fit. In a startup, you don’t have the luxury of filling your bench at full strength from Day One, as you are evolving and changing your product roadmap based on early market feedback. Instead, it is about hiring true artisans in their craft, team members who will push the boundaries of technical design and raise the skill level of the Engineering organization.
In the past, traditional hiring has always worked for me, but it has its challenges. Attracting, vetting, incentivizing, and retaining the right talent is hard work because the typical hiring funnel looks like this:
For a typical job posting, historical data shows that only 17% of visitors become applicants, and only 32% of those applications qualify for screening. After a rigorous screening process and onsite interviews, only 31% of those interviews receive offers, which 69% then accept.
Breaking that down to some real numbers, for 1 mid-level hire, we would make 1.5 offers, conduct 4.8 on-site interviews, 15 phone screens and consider 88 applications. That’s a lot of time and money that could be better spent in other ways.
When I joined Gigster to build out the Product Engineering team, I was ready to start this labor-intensive process. But then I was introduced to Gigster elastic staffing. As reported in a large-scale study by Constellation Research: “Elastic staffing is an agile approach that uses an advanced platform to manage talent and teams across software development projects. This makes it possible to scale resources dynamically, which ensures the right skills are used at the right time. Unlike fixed staffing approaches that assign full-time roles and resources for the entire project, elastic staffing adjusts resource levels for each project milestone based on the actual workload and skill sets needed for that phase.”
For five years, Gigster’s talent network has worked across several domains and created a collective knowledge base and expertise. So, unlike traditional freelancing/outsourcing efforts, Gigster’s pre-vetted, calibrated Talent Network was ready to go, and my team was waiting. The entire Gigster Talent dashboard was visible at a glance, complete with technical skills and levels.
I was easily able to create my own opinion leader graph derived from patterns of recommendations, past working relationships, team synergies, and success stories. I had instant access to a rich, technically diverse talent pool of Gigsters, with recommendations, endorsements, and client satisfaction scores that were much more credible than a self-reported CV. It was like having my own private LinkedIn Network, only better.
Here’s an interesting visualization of peer feedback that was used to create a Network Opinion graph.
All in all, it was a highly satisfying process, so I started out with a small, well-balanced team, blended with full-time hires and some really awesome Gigster Network team members.
Over a period of nine months, we’ve grown and shrunk as we needed, yet keeping a core Blended Engineering team. As needed, we’ve brought in some highly skilled technical architects, designers, product and project managers, all of whom contributed to early aspects of our work. We’ve grown and shrunk to fit the workload, but through that elasticity, we’ve retained a constant core, because a developing a stable long-standing technical architecture definitely needs continuity.
The chart below is an early look at what the Product Engineering elastic model looks like. All in all, we’ve managed to significantly reduce costs, but we maintained high quality because we’re able to bring in external technical reviewers and data architects and have them give us independent feedback. That access to rare, highly skilled talent lets us lower risk and deliver the highest product quality.
Besides elastic staffing, at Gigster Engineering, we believe that true agility comes from keeping your finger on the pulse, continuously calibrating as you build. I’ll share that experience with you in my next blog on team intelligence.
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