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What is Staff Augmentation? A Successful Model to Extend Your Team



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.

In context to software development initiatives, staff augmentation lets you hire “highly skilled” developers who have expertise in the tech stack you are working with.

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:

Reason Fulfills Needs
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.

4. Develop

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.

2. Flexibility

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
Short-term project
Concern over IP (Intellectual Property)
High project complexity

Conclusion

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.

Gaurav Bakshi

About the Author

Gaurav Bakshi is a result-driven Software Management Professional with +10 years of experience in Account Management, Sales, Business Development, and Project Management. Gaurav has extensive experience in building and managing energized, creative, and focused teams that aim to deliver seamless customer experiences by designing, developing, and growing next generation and enterprise-ready products and solutions.

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