Hybrid data teams – the five essential characteristics

Sander de Jongh, Partner, Data

Looming deadlines, a lack of experienced people, too much work and too little time are common complaints on data projects. And being able to scale and flex at pace is vital – data initiatives often start small but grow quickly. Having the right people in place is key if the data initiative is going to be a success. One of the main problems is a lack of available data resources with a diverse skill set – getting the right people with the right skills and level of experience in your immediate location is often a challenge. 

A hybrid approach can be a really effective solution. It means you have a team of locally-based employees who work together with remotely located (near-shore) employees, and in this way, offset the scarcity of local data resources. This means teams can scale up quickly, getting swift access to a diverse range of skills, such as data scientists, data engineers, programmers and testers. Of course, you have to get the balance right between onshore and remote colleagues – and each project will have a different approach. But the common denominator is always full integration between the teams. 

So how do you find that perfect balance? These are the five factors to bear in mind:

  • Together: as mentioned, there might be physical distance between the team members, but the buzzwords are ‘full integration’. The team has to act together, as one, whether they work client side, or for the consultancy. You have to put the steps in place to build the team culture, and since the COVID pandemic, when zoom and teams have become the norm, it is much more easily done these days. 
  • Scalable: you can imagine the scenario – your CEO has prioritised the delivery of management information for the finance department – your data team needs to scale, at pace, to meet this deadline, as well as conducting business as usual (BAU). Where do you find the data scientists and engineers to help you do this? A nearshore capability can help you scale fast – and somewhere like Croatia, where engineering and technical sciences are the second most popular degrees – provide a pool of eager and capable qualified data professionals. Nearshoring can help you scale swiftly and easily, and scale down again when the requirement recedes.
  • Team structure: this is a really important point to bear in mind – having the right balance of data skills at onshore and nearshore locations is vital, as is the right balance of seniority and management skills. This will ensure that all bases are covered, communication between the team members is seamless, deadlines are met and all issues are dealt with promptly. 
  • Access to data skills: job data paints a troubling picture – we are in a period of extremely high employment, where demand for labour is exceeding supply. There are currently 26 job vacancies for every IT engineer in the Dutch IT sector and this labour shortage is set to worsen with Western Europe’s aging workforce. In an environment where we simply don’t have enough tech and data professionals, nearshoring helps organisations bridge these gaps and seamlessly resource their data and tech requirements.
  • High quality: a track record of high quality is one of the benefits of nearshoring to a European location, as opposed to offshoring to a more distant location. It means the teams are operating in a similar time zone and it’s not that far to travel if you need to brief the team in person. Teams tend to be more aligned culturally and from a language perspective – English will probably be the common language and nearshore teams are extremely proficient. This means it’s much easier to ensure data quality is optimised.

Find the right people to bolster your data teams is so important. And looking at other locations for the right skills and qualifications can really boost your data operation. The key is to build hybrid teams, properly integrating all team members, having clear management oversight and identifying all the skills you’ll need to resource up and get the job done properly. Hybrid teams, with onshore and nearshore elements can be a really effective solution.

Want to learn more? If you would like to learn more about Hybrid data teams, please email [email protected] and we’ll be in touch right away. 

Sander de Jongh is a Partner of the Data Practice at Valcon www.valcon.com