Fractional support can be a much-needed boon to help your business accomplish all its goals.
If you’ve managed an IT or Marketing team (or any team for that matter) you’ve likely had an experience at some point where you just couldn’t tackle all the items on your roadmap. It might have been due to hitting the ceiling of your team’s expertise, capacity, or simply being handcuffed by hiring limitations.
In some scenarios, priority items can get delayed, new ideas aren’t piloted, existing products aren’t optimized, or even worse, the items fall off the roadmap altogether. If you’ve already gone through one of those circumstances or it sounds like something you’re currently going through, there’s a solution for you – fractional support.
What is fractional support?
Fractional support brings you talent from expert-level professionals who spread their expertise across several companies. Whether you manage the resource yourself or they’re managed externally (for example, by an agency), fractional support can operate like a typical employer/employee relationship.
You’ll get work done for the number of hours you determine on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis. You can use fractional support to fill whatever role you want until the project is done, the need changes, or you decide to hire a new employee. Some companies, however, prefer to utilize these support services long-term due to the benefits of reduced recruiting time, flexibile arrangements, and eliminating the overhead costs associated with fully-loaded FTEs.
Because your needs are unique, there are different kinds of fractional support to help you best meet your goals. The methods we find most effective to fit our clients’ needs are (1) Staff Augmentation and (2) Retainer-Based Services.
What is staff augmentation (or staffing)?
Staff augmentation, or staffing, is a form of fractional support in which your business benefits by adding what is essentially a new employee to your team. You assume less risk by contracting this person versus hiring full-time employees; you manage them and they receive their pay from the company you are borrowing them from.
These often specialized resources have the ability to enhance your business when you have more capacity than you do have positions to hire. There might be a project where the help is needed but you may not be able to justify a full-time hire. Their expertise and skillset will fill a precise need or talent gap to bolster your team’s productivity, there will be a high utilization rate with this employee.
As this person becomes a part of your team you can accelerate project timelines, have them work on more demanding projects that may require more of a “custom fit” (even In-Flight Projects), and have a full transfer of knowledge if you decide to keep this employee working on a project longer than initially thought.
Consider staff augmentation when: You should look into staffing when you need more hands to accomplish all the tasks in your pipeline.
What are retainer-based services?
Retainer-based services differ in that the firm you work through will manage the employee or team of employees and the type of work being handled. This method of fractional support can be more hands-off than using staff augmentation – you set the priorities and the resources work on them for an agreed-to number of hours per month. Many places that offer traditional managed services will offer them for development and infrastructure support. However, some organizations like Paragon also offer retainer-based services for specific skill sets and disciplines that include ongoing strategy, UX & design, marketing & campaign optimization, SEO & analytics, and web performance optimization & accessibility.
Consider retainer-based service when: You’re looking for specific, time-based support across a particular discipline, whether that’s strategy, design, or traditional development.
Benefits to all
While you may be looking for specific services like front and back-end development tasks, user experience design, or content development, there are unseen benefits that come from using fractional services. You’ll instantly add diversity to your team with experienced employees used to serving several different businesses. You’ll gain a fresh pair of eyes that can provide a new perspective to a project you’ve been too close to. You’ll get relief as you see receive defined deliverables to bring your next great idea to market.
In summary, with fractional support you get:
- Access to expert resources as a true extension of your Marketing or IT teams — or both
- A customized support team to help meet goals
- Resource holes filled
- Knowledge gaps eliminated
- More done
Getting started with fractional support
First, assess your needs. What are the biggest pain points for your business right now? Is there a certain area where providing extra support could make big improvements? What are your current capabilities and what risks are there with your business right now?
Then, take a look around and do some window shopping. Interview multiple companies and review their portfolio. Look at who they’ve worked for, or maybe get referrals from acquaintances that have worked with them in the past. Once you’ve found someone you like and start the engagement, keep track of key metrics and adjust your needs as time goes on. Be proactive about this relationship and make sure you’re getting the most from your investment.
If you’re interested in learning more about the fractional support that’s right for you, we’d love to talk.