How Team Augmentation Enabled Significant Business Scalability For Our Client

One single bug might be causing you to lose clients, misplace orders, and build up a bad reputation amongst your customers. 

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran


Your development team is probably so busy putting out fires that while they’re patching and fixing bugs, they end up working on the same issues over and over again because they don’t have time to find the root cause.

At NaNLABS, we hear stories like that all of the time. Our clients come to us in the hopes of streamlining their code and processes. And when we augment their teams, we often encounter code that needs to be refactored or even rewritten with a large technical debt.

In this article, we’ll share the story of a client who needed to lift the weight off their developers’ shoulders, find the root cause of their problems, fix them, and optimize their processes. And how working with NaNLABS led them to increase their internal productivity by 10x.

Table of contents:

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you.

A small team with a big goal

NaNLABS has been working with this client through an augmented team for over a year. Here’s how it happened.

The client: An online retailer in need of team augmentation

This US-based online retailer sells customizable photo books, photo cards, prints, and gifts. Their main focus is quality and elevated design to make meaningful life experiences memorable and permanent.

The brief: Support their software development team 

Our client reached out to NaNLABS because they needed to outsource staff augmentation services to: 

  • Help their overworked engineering team find the root cause of recurring issues (and the bandwidth to fix them) 

  • Automate processes to reduce the amount of manual and repetitive work when configuring new products or designs

  • Revamp their photo editor for end-users and designers

  • Refactor their legacy e-commerce platform that was causing them to have faulty orders and a burnout team of software engineers.

The challenges: Reduce technical debt and work alongside their team

This client had three main challenges for the NaNLABS team:

  1. This client had a small engineering team that couldn’t take any more work because they spent all of their time solving customer-facing problems that were caused by messy code. They didn’t have enough tech talent.

  2. Our client’s engineering team didn’t have time to fix the root cause of mistakes and were constantly patching and fixing bugs to make the system usable but it generated technical debt that was up to the NaNLABS Agile software development team to fix. 

  3. Their lack of response capacity from the programmers led to orders being mistakenly placed while users found the platform and photo editor hard to use. This ultimately caused them to lose business.

    The dedicated team from NaNLABS found this project challenging because of their technical debt and legacy e-commerce platform. It was also challenging for developers and designers to build a new photo editor and create a custom Adobe Illustrator extension that was compatible with the infrastructure revamp.

NaNLABS team augmentation services work hand-in-hand with your in-house development team to streamline processes, debug, and clean your code.

Why did they choose NaNLABS over other providers?

Clients usually choose NaNLABS over other software agencies because we truly care about each particular client, and we invest time and energy to come up with plans to address their ideas from the first meeting. 

Our clients aren’t numbers to us. At NaNLABS, we connect with every client on a personal and professional level. We listen to their needs, use their preferred tools, and adjust to most time zones. We also have a large talent pool that allows us to handpick a self-organized team of IT professionals that are the perfect fit for each project.

We’re in the middle of our multi-year long contract with this particular client and we already have some outstanding results to share.

What did NaNLABS do?

As soon as the collaboration began, we assigned this client a team of seven team members organized in three different Agile pods with clear goals.

NaNLABS pods

These three squads focused on specific tasks that would help achieve specific business goals and built a vision board of the entire technical solution. Here’s what they did:

  1. Leveraged the serverless framework and AWS to enable the cloud transformation process. 

  2. Set up a test monitoring system for the whole infrastructure triggering alerts through Slack.

  3. Configured two products that involved a designer and a developer working hand in hand during one complete day to achieve results that served the end users’ purpose.

Technical solutions

This client needed an infrastructure revamp quickly. They also needed to offer a better user experience for their customers.That’s why the NaNLABS team members focused on:

  1. Developing a custom Adobe Illustrator extension to enable their designers to use the same tools they were familiar with to create new product templates directly on their website. 

  2. Revamping their ecosystem around a Magento e-commerce instance. Magento is a multi-channel open-source e-commerce platform based on PHP. It’s very user-friendly but hard to maintain in production. 

  3. Streamlining their web order processing by developing new APIs, automating repetitive tasks, and integrating with vendors.

  4. Co-creating with their development team a modern photo product editor to improve the customer experience while customizing their photo books and photo cards.

Benefits of staff augmentation and Agile teams

At NaNLABS we live by the Agile manifesto, which is why we make sure the client is always involved in the development process and that user satisfaction is a top priority. 

We work in sprints, 2-4 weeks of work, that end with a deliverable and a retrospective meeting where we review the delivered features. During the retrospective, we evaluate what worked and didn’t in each sprint, to ensure Agile continuous improvement

The client is always invited to those meetings to keep the team headed in the right direction and hear their ideas. Following our staff augmentation model, the client acts as product owner because they have insight and knowledge of their core business. 

Another benefit of staff augmentation is that the team members work as an extension of the business using their preferred communication and project management tools to ensure a smooth relationship. And, at NaNLABS, we make sure our IT staff augmentation services are ready to use without needing much onboarding. It’s a sort of plug-and-play solution for product development. 

The results

Halfway through the contract, the augmented team delivered some major results, including:

  1. Accelerated their software development initiatives and increased internal productivity by 10x.

  2. Released a new photo editor that simplified the way users customize their photo products that have been praised by users. 

    “I love all the customization options—plus the simplicity of putting it all together and ordering,” said one customer.

  3. Reduced the number of order errors from ~600 issues to ~5 issues a day, by revamping the infrastructure. 

  4. Gave the in-house development team capacity to focus on strategic work, by reducing the order issues

  5. Reduced the time spent configuring the product by 20x for users and designers, thanks to a newly automated design process.  The client’s graphic designers are now able to create more than 20 products a day.

  6. Automated the maintenance of all 600 products inside the client’s Magento platform. 

  7. Centralized and automated service alerts into a single Slack channel including unit test monitoring, deployment notifications, and automated code reviews. This means the team is always on top of any arising issues.

Should you augment your development team?

Yes, you should augment your development team if:

  • Your developers can’t take any more work or don’t have the capabilities to work on a specific project

  • You need to come up with software solutions fast 

  • You need to streamline processes and reduce technical debt

Technical debt is a pretty common Agile technical practice to find in startups. 

Usually, time-to-market tends to be valued over high-quality code. But code is fragile and, while it’s helpful in the short-term, it builds up a huge amount of issues that are harder to solve from scratch when you’re also busy solving customer issues.

If you have repetitive and boring tasks that aren’t allowing your team members to complete more value-added work, or your legacy software is negatively impacting your business, partnering up with an Agile augmented staff might be the most clever solution. 

IT outsourcing is a cost-effective way to get professionals with years of experience to debug your code and streamline your processes without: 

  • Going through a recruiting process and hiring full-time employees with the right skillset

  • Onboarding new team members

  • Getting more office space

We’d love to hear from you and discuss ideas for your custom software development process, and help you achieve business objectives without putting extra work on your developers’ shoulders!

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you.

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