In this era of cutting-edge technology and rapid evolution, it has become almost a non-negotiable for companies to remain competitive constantly. This is key to catering to the high-tech needs of today’s clients. Still, the hard-to-swallow truth of this digital competitiveness is that organizations need elite development teams to succeed. New programming languages and technologies emerge in the tech space now and then, and detecting and embracing them is imperative to success.
So, how can you consistently possess a development team with the right composition and size to employ new technologies and address present-day challenges if IT hiring is cumbersome and costly? The answer to this is staff augmentation.
IT staff augmentation focuses on in-house team expansion by outsourcing the required talent. This helps a company to stay agile, averting the hassles of recruiting in-house professionals, especially if specialists or high-level talent are needed. This blog discusses the meaning of staff augmentation, its importance, pros and cons, various models, and how you can hire offshore developers using the right augmentation model.
Staff augmentation means simply outsourcing workers for projects aligned with the organization’s current staffing needs and objectives. For example, your company aims to develop a gaming app, and you require seven developers. However, your in-house development team only contains four. Given that you want skilled developers with sound expertise in building robust apps, it might take at least a month or two to fill the gap and hire four talented developers, delaying your project launch and depriving you of predicted revenue.
However, using staff augmentation, you can easily hire the three developers within weeks, enabling quicker project completion and product launch. Moreover, augmenting staff is a cooperative model that usually involves outsourcing. Hence, once your app hits the market, you won’t need to fire the developers who worked on it. This will help you avoid the legal hassles and documentation of full-time employment.
Staff augmentation can be carried out in three ways:
Commodity-based augmentation: This type of augmentation primarily adds more staff to a business. It involves hiring employees who are not necessarily highly skilled but can still perform the basic tasks required by the business. Commodity-based augmentation can be done when there is a shortage of employees and businesses need to hire people quickly or when they need to fill positions that do not require high levels of skill.
Skill-based augmentation: This staff augmentation occurs when businesses hire skilled workers. These individuals will have higher levels of education and experience than average workers, allowing them to complete tasks more efficiently than others within the company. These employees may also have skills not readily available in other companies, making them valuable assets to an organization.
Highly-skilled augmentation: Highly skilled individuals come from outside organizations and are hired for specific projects within those organizations. They may perform tasks that require expertise, such as developing new products or solving complex problems with existing ones.
It can also be divided into two categories short-term and long-term. Short-term staff augmentation involves bringing on temporary employees to help you with a specific task. For example, if you're working on an ad campaign, you might want to bring on an intern to help you with the design elements. This would be considered short-term because it will only last for one project.
On the other hand, long-term staff augmentation is when you hire someone for a longer period, typically a year or more. This can be because employees' skills have grown so much that they've become indispensable to your business, and you need them for the long haul.
It is important to carefully determine when and under what circumstances to increase headcount. Here are five scenarios where staff augmentation is perfect for your business.
Even if you have in-house software developers, it is essential to complement or enhance your current expertise when releasing a new product or starting a new project. In that case, augmenting your IT team is a good idea.
Your company may have multiple projects going on at a time. Many of these projects require different skills in different specialties. Demand for these particular skills is constantly changing, so you need to dynamically address this issue on a project-by-project basis.
Staffing allows you to add experienced developers, bringing specialized skills that may not be needed outside the projects they're working on. So you don't have to spend time, energy, and money training your in-house employees in these fleeting skills.
If you need a local developer with deep knowledge of IoT, Dart, software development, etc., you should be ready to look for a while. The augmentation model helps save time finding and hiring an expert. You just need to contact the vendor, review the developer's resume, and interview.
Hiring is a long process, from job posting to onboarding. You probably don't have the time and patience that takes an average of two months. Staff augmentation is an effective way to increase IT staff and meet your needs regardless of the length of your contract (short or long-term). It also provides instant access to a global pool of software developers enabling companies to augment from around the world.
This issue can happen when you need more control over the developer's work and want to manage the developer's workload yourself. Smoothly integrating software developers into your team can be an additional motivation to focus on your business.
The ease of hiring offered by IT staff augmentation is why it’s so popular today, especially due to the massive size of the software market. As per a Businesswire report, this market’s revenue is primed to reach nearly $1,493 billion in 2025 (11% CAGR). Growth at such rates would be impossible without access to a vast software specialists pool, which is only possible through resource augmentation that aids in distributing IT workforce across businesses.
Additionally, staff augmentation’s flexibility gels extremely well with the increased hiring needs of today’s IT businesses. In-house team hiring involves multiple steps, from screening candidates and background checks to payroll decisions and registration processes. As such, it’s lengthy, resource-consuming, and ultimately unsuitable if you want to quickly onboard talent for urgent projects in the pipeline. Firing such staff is also cumbersome, decreasing your in-house employment value, mainly when you need new workers for a brief period.
On the other hand, staff augmentation is quick, as your outsourcing vendor handles all the hiring steps and formalities. They select competent developers with the required expertise and proven work experience. All you or your company’s executive needs to do is interview the chosen individuals and onboard the suitable ones. This helps your company to remain agile and aligned with the project’s timeline and delivery, averting revenue loss and a slow market launch.
As mentioned above, IT staff augmentation is outsourcing required talent. However, it is just one of the many outsourcing models one can avail of. There are various other options also such as independent contractors (freelancers), time and material (T&M), dedicated teams, and offshore development centers. So, how do these fare against staff augmentation, and which one is suitable for you?
Usually, there are certain facets that can be different or similar for these outsourcing models. These include who is responsible for what, such as: -
Hiring a freelancer would require you (or a client) to be responsible for most of the points mentioned above if not all. You would have to deal with communication, management, payroll, etc., all of which would be covered by a vendor themself if you chose IT staff augmentation.
On the contrary, hiring independent contractors means you won’t have to pay a commission to a vendor. Instead, you would hire the contractor directly. However, an important thing to consider here is that specific limitations apply to the position occupied by an independent contractor in an organization. For instance, you wouldn’t need to provide employee perks or compensate for overhead expenses when working with an independent contractor. Plus, their role could also involve limited access to your company data or information that you would typically share with your augmented staff.
The most apparent distinction between IT staff augmentation and managed services is the amount of control a client provides the vendor with. While the former only assigns the provisioning of staff required to the vendor, and the rest stays under a client’s control, the latter operates as a one-in-all service. Vendors offering manager services presume external control of a client’s non-core systems. They manage all the aspects of the client’s functioning when providing talent.
Therefore, managed services presuppose a higher amount of delegation. This can often be an excellent solution for companies looking to optimize their resource allocation and concentrate on their in-house teams only for strategic priorities.
Additionally, a managed service provider usually has a developer/development team “benched.” This means you can begin with project-related tasks right after the contract signing instead of waiting while the vendor hires workers.
While these two outsourcing models may appear similar, there’s a key difference: the outsourcing vendor assumes more responsibility when a client wants a dedicated team.
You can manage your remote developers directly with resource and staff augmentation, but a dedicated team operates under the vendor’s supervision. The former presupposes full-time engagement, while the latter often works with multiple clients on any given day. The vendor reviews salaries for dedicated teams, whereas the client does it when augmenting staff.
The difference between offshore development centers (ODC) and staff augmentation is similar to the difference between building your own home and renting an apartment.
An ODC is a representative office your vendor will set up for you. They will recruit the staff, find an office space, and find other service providers for furniture, internet connections, supplies, etc. All these will be included in the vendor’s fee, and once everything is good to go, you can manage the team and the office on your own, as it will operate as a part of your organization.
The time and material outsourcing model is where a client pays for the time dedicated by a development team or single developer when working under them. Staff augmentation is distinctly different from this as it involves temporary staff employment by augmentation companies, who handle all the taxation, documentation, and administration expenses of employment.
Here, a client can undertake the payroll responsibility if they want it. Generally, the salary reviews and perks are on the client., but occasionally, vendors may take care of those too.
Selecting the right resources and staff augmentation option is imperative to your project’s success when you’re outsourcing talent. Here are a few areas to consider when you’re choosing the augmentation model.
Project duration - Think about the approximate timeline of your project. Staff augmentation will be the ideal choice if it needs less than six months for completion. If not, you can pick from the other models.
Calculating costs - Assess the expenses to train your in-house development team to work with augmented staff. Check how it fares against the costs of outsourcing the entire project or hiring a dedicated team. If communication and management processes don’t work effectively, staff augmentation may fail to deliver its money-saving promise.
Data sensitivity - Consider the sensitivity of whatever data you disclose. For this, signing an augmentation contract with NDA terms and conditions with the concerned vendor and developers is always a good practice.
To sum it up, always try to demand a staff augmentation agreement containing an NDA clause, consider your project’s total duration, and calculate expenses carefully to pick the best augmenting model for your needs.
Since multiple outsourcing models are available, including staff augmentation, it is not the best option for certain scenarios. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of its pros and cons which will help you decide if augmenting your staff is the right call for you.
Flexibility - As mentioned earlier, the flexibility that comes with resources and staff augmentation is extremely lucrative. Sourcing and hiring suitable employees get too time-consuming, expensive, and involve multiple steps and paperwork. Firing such workers entails similar hassles, which you can easily avoid by augmenting your workforce. With staff augmentation, you can hire as many workers as you need, and scale your team up and down without worrying about any tedious procedures. You can start a project with six developers, and continue for another one with two, without worrying about contract termination formalities or recruiting hassles. Plus, the flexibility of augmenting resources in terms of budgeting (weekly/monthly payment plans, hourly rates, etc.) makes things even easier.
Significant cost reduction - Outsourcing talent automatically translates to massive cost-saving. You don’t need to pay extras for leaves, days off, taxes, or other perks. Plus, you neither incur extra recruitment nor legal costs, as all these are borne by your vendor who charges the entire service fee.
Massive time-saving - It takes enormous time to create job postings and descriptions, publish them on various platforms, interview candidates, and undergo the required paperwork to onboard a full-time employee. With staff augmentation, you can bid all this goodbye as your outsourcing vendor will take care of everything. You may still need to interview to assess the potential team member, but the rest is taken off your plate.
Direct communication - If you outsource your entire project, the vendor will bear responsibility for every detail. But, with staff augmentation, you get to communicate with the staff directly and assign work, plan sprints, and completely control the process through various project management tools (Trello, Asana, Jira, etc.). The hired developers will report directly to you, allowing you to constantly be in touch and have track of what’s going on.
Increased productivity - High productivity is a distinctive feature of IT staff augmentation, meaning the staff is completely focused on the project, dedicating their efforts to it. Since they’re not part of an outsourcing team who handles multiple projects a day, their efficiency levels remain high and your project gets completed in the desired manner.
Access to global talent - Needless to say, when you’re augmenting staff, you’re no more limited to your local talent supply. With hiring in-person and locally, you may have to reduce your benchmarks to onboard the required staff for your projects. With staff augmentation services available globally, you can easily collaborate with vendors remotely and hire elite talent from anywhere.
Privacy risks - When outsourcing work, a certain degree of trust is needed. You will work with a third party and involve them in your internal operations. Hence, you must undertake regular security audits to address any security hazards or threats, and obtain a robust NDA signed by the augmented staff for data protection and total security.
Managerial bottlenecks - Since the definition of staff augmentation is all about outsourcing, it generally means that the staff you hire won’t probably operate in your office. Thus, to work effectively and avoid managerial hurdles, it’s key to establish efficient management and communication channels to keep your augmented and in-house staff in tune with each other during project completion.
Quality control - Managers prioritizing cost reductions over other key criteria often hire poor developers. This quickly results in expense overruns, project delays, and drastic security risks for end users. However, you can simply avoid this by establishing stringent quality control measures. Verify if your augmented staff are well trained and competent enough to finish their allocated tasks by gathering feedback from previous clients.
Insufficient technical expertise - A meticulous selection process is imperative to hire the right talent. Once you discover your augmented team has unsatisfactory performance, you may resort to recruiting new people in a hurry, which can easily be your undoing. Instead, a thorough selection method can help you examine a developer’s portfolio, assess their experience, and decide if they’re the right fit for your business.
Hiring new talent is evidently cumbersome, and furthermore, the outcome of recruiting employees can easily be unpredictable. Staff augmentation can be an invaluable solution to such challenges, where you can onboard efficient talent without any long-term commitment. Hiring flexible remote talent without worrying about paperwork or other tedious processes can help you stay ahead of your competition, simultaneously giving you better control over your projects.
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