Businesses often find it challenging to meet the project objectives (timely and quality delivery) due to the team’s lack of tech talent. Hiring permanent staff can be a lengthy process, which, in turn, can further hamper the delivery timelines. So how do you counter the challenge? A safe way out is to fill the talent gap by hiring experienced personnel on a temporary/project basis. The process is called staff augmentation and is similar to borrowing an expert in the field from agencies that facilitate project outsourcing.
The staff augmentation model is gradually gaining traction as 6.3% of sales in the Americas were in staff augmentation in 2020.
If the idea of staff augmentation looks viable to you, here’s a guide that can help you get started.
What is Staff Augmentation?
Staff augmentation is a strategy that involves outsourcing staff from an outside organization temporarily to complete a project. It is commonly used in IT projects to meet the requirements of a product development initiative.
In the case of outsourcing, you hand over the entire task to an outside agency. However, in staff augmentation, you cherry-pick skilled personnel from outsourcing companies to complete a project that your in-house team is currently working on.
Staff augmentation services allow you to leverage the best of both worlds, i.e., your squad consists of your in-house team and some of the best professionals from outside agencies whom you hire on a contractual basis.
With remote work turning out to be the new normal, the staff augmentation trend is on the rise as it allows organizations to augment staff from anywhere in the world.
Staff Augmentation vs Managed Services
When choosing a suitable operating model for your IT projects, getting confused between staff augmentation and managed services is expected.
Here’s a comparison table to help you answer — what is the difference between staff augmentation and managed services:
|Staff Augmentation (Out-Tasking)||Managed Services (Outsourcing)|
|Hiring developers from another organization who work along the in-house team to complete the software project||Hiring an outside organization (outsourcing) to complete the entire software project|
|Focuses on delivering an input (additional staff)||Focuses on delivering an output (quality delivery)|
|Provides additional developers||Provides the entire development team, i.e., developers, business analysts, designers, testers, project manager, and quality analysts|
|Developers are paid per hour||Are paid on completion of the project or completion of certain milestones such as MVP delivery to start with|
|Pricing depends on hours worked and availability||Pricing depends on service level agreements and final output|
|Performance-driven, i.e., the borrowed staff needs to match the specific skill set and the performance level of the existing team||Value-driven, i.e., the outsourced agency is liable to deliver an outcome with reference to SLA|
|You will have to maintain the infrastructure to manage the development team||You outsource completely, so you do not have to maintain any infrastructure. You can focus on core operations while the managed service provider takes care of everything|
|You will have to train the augmented staff to help them blend in||No training is required as the entire project is taken care of by the provider|
|Control lies in your hands||The entire control of the project lies with the managed services provider|
Why Consider Staff Augmentation?
With COVID-19 affecting businesses at scale, skilled staff shortage is getting real. Where the hiring process for a permanent role is lengthy, finding the right people for the job can get even more challenging.
To solve the staffing problem temporarily, implementing a staff augmentation strategy is a smart move. On the one hand, you have the best in-house team. On the other hand, you can hire the best-experienced professionals on a contractual basis to solve the problem at hand.
Here’s when you should consider staff augmentation for your IT project:
|Increase Developer Capacity||
Meet delivery timelines
Increase sprint velocity
Maintain sustainable pace
|Fulfill short-term Requirements||
Allows time to hire full-time employees
Help meet the project requirements temporarily
Helps ensure faster time to market
|Bridge Skill Gap||
Access to staff that holds experience in a disruptive technology
Meet the project timelines when permanent hiring is taking time
Promote swarming (developers with appropriate skills work together to complete a task that is causing troubles)
|Build Flexible Work Models||
Adopt the best-in-class business strategy
Maintain competitive advantage
Emerge as an agile organization
When to Choose Staff Augmentation: Checklist
Staff augmentation is the right choice for your business if:
- If you have an in-house development team and you wish to extend its strength
- Permanent hiring is posing to be a challenge owing to talent or experience shortage
- You are planning to hire offshore talent to save costs and want to build a remote team culture
- You are looking for experienced developers who have experience with the disruptive technology you are working on
Staff Augmentation Process Flow (What we Follow)
As a standard practice, the staff augmentation process follows through the following steps for ensuring project success:
1. Requirements Analysis
The business and the functional requirements are discussed regarding the project in question. After a thorough analysis of the requirements, we arrange a meeting between developers and the client.
2. Client and Developers Meeting
A meeting is arranged between the client and the developers so that they are on the same page in context with the project requirements and the respective KRA (key responsibility area).
3. Developer/s Allocation
Once the requirements are clear, developer/s (one or multiple) are assigned to the project based on the client’s needs. The service provider usually does this allocation based on skills, experience, and availability.
The assigned developers work in collaboration with the in-house team to complete the tasks across the sprint cycles. The developer/s communicates with the client directly without the involvement of a project manager or a business analyst (unless a PM or a BA are also hired).
5. Continued Support
The hired developers continue to offer support throughout the product’s lifetime. If the hiring agency is satisfied with the work, they can employ the same team for other projects in the future.
What are the Benefits of Staff Augmentation?
Staff augmentation is a go-to option when permanent hiring is challenging or adds to the additional cost of managing the workforce.
Here’s are some add-on staff augmentation benefits to be aware of:
1. Increase in Productivity
In a staff augmentation setup, you have an in-house team and selected professionals from an outside organization working on your project. The good thing is that they will be dedicated to the project the whole time without interruptions or delays, thus helping increase productivity. If you are satisfied with their performance, you can also hire them for other long-term projects.
In the case of a permanent developer, you will have to follow a lengthy replacement process, and it becomes even more challenging to replace an outsourcing team. On the other hand, if an augmented developer does not perform optimally and brings no value addition, you can easily replace the developers without much hassle.
3. Cost Savings
One of the most significant benefits of IT staff augmentation services narrows down to its cost-effectiveness. Let’s say you borrow two developers to augment your in-house team. The cost of an in-house team includes — infrastructure, basic pay, and other benefits. On the other hand, you only have to pay the basic wage to the two augmented developers without worrying about infrastructure or office space provision costs. The augmented service provider takes care of the rest.
4. Time Savings
It takes less time to hire a team of developers from an outside development agency than hiring permanent staff. You are saved from the long process of hiring, training, and maintaining the permanent staff when the project is under discussion, and you have no time to waste.
Staff Augmentation vs Managed Services vs In-House Staffing
When confused between staff augmentation and managed services, hedge your bets! Analyze your requirements, consider the pros and cons of each of the available options, and choose wisely.
Here’s a decision framework to help you make an informed decision:
|Parameter||Staff Augmentation||Managed Services||Permanent Hiring|
|Have access to an in-house team but need extra resources||✓|
|No access to an in-house team||✓|
|Need to fill the skills gap||✓||✓|
|Looking for tight control over the development process||✓||✓|
|Software development is not your business model||✓|
|Have a tailor-made software development process||✓||✓|
|Project demand developer team expansion||✓||✓|
|Concern over IP (Intellectual Property)||✓|
|High project complexity||✓||✓|
Staff augmentation allows you to hire developers from an outside agency on a project-to-project basis. It is a great way to fill the team’s capacity when working on a software project that requires some experienced extra hands.
In this write-up, we tried to cover everything about staff augmentation that you need to know before moving ahead with staff expansion options. It is your call to augment your staff, stay entirely in-house, or outsource. However, it is your responsibility to ensure that the option you choose increases your value proposition.