Additional services often prove to be crucial for a project to be successful. There are situations where your team just isn’t large enough or lacks specific skills to go through with it. If you managed to win over your client with a great RFP response, do whatever you can to make that client stick around. That’s where staff augmentation comes in. It’s useful when you need to reinforce your team with additional manpower or particular expertise. Lots of teams go for it, as it’s becoming more and more popular and effective.
What is staff augmentation?
Staff augmentation is the practice of hiring professionals as an addition to an already existing team in your company for a limited time. The biggest advantage of staff augmentation is the fact that you can hire virtually anybody, anywhere in the world. As long as communication issues are resolved, you have the access to a lot of talent. It can prove to be vital if you don’t have the funds or don’t want to commit to hiring additional specialists in-house permanently. Staff augmentation has the benefits of both outsourcing and in-house teams.
On one side, you have a lot of professionals to choose from, and on the other, you get to keep your workflow as is. You have the power to see how the work is going, as you’ve got constant information from your team. The same can’t be said for regular outsourcing—there can be communication issues at times.
Types of staff augmentation
You can divide staff augmentation in two different ways:
This type of staff augmentation is mostly used when the project has a large scope and takes several months to complete. This applies when you have a skill gap in your team, hiring takes too long, you’re cutting costs.
On the flip side, short-term services are most suitable for quick, small projects that require a particular skill to complete. Perhaps your employee is on sick leave, the season is packed, or someone is on a vacation.
The other way of division is in terms of what skills you need:
You want highly-skilled professionals with an excellent grasp of a particular skill.
You need specialists who have more varied expertise but aren’t expert in any specific aspect.
This type of workers are ones who can do your regular work without any particular skillset.
One might associate staff augmentation with IT only. In reality, it applies to virtually any type of industry. Whether you’re a software house in need of additional professionals, a delivery company with a shortage of drivers, or you need somebody extra to work in your warehouse, it comes in handy.
Staff augmentation vs regular outsourcing
There’s quite a big difference between your traditional outsourcing of professionals and staff augmentation. For one, outsourcing mostly happens when you need somebody to do the whole project by themselves. You either don’t have a dedicated team for it or you lack manpower. Staff augmentation comes into play when you need to close the skill gap required to complete the task.
Another aspect is that staff augmentation is mostly cheaper than outsourcing or hiring in-house. It doesn’t require that much commitment from your part, too. You keep the control over your project, as you have “a man on the inside” so to speak.
Outsourcing entire teams leaves you with less flexibility, as well. If you need to make some changes to the project, you have the power to do it at any time. Also, you can hire additional specialists whenever you want if your current team can’t manage to meet the deadline. On top of that, communication issues may ensue, as time zones can differ and there could be a language barrier.
How the process works
The first step when deciding whether you want to augment your staff is the identification of missing skills. If you have a specification ready, then just contact your team and ask them if they can manage to complete the project by the deadline. They will know exactly whether there’s a need for extra manpower. This largely depends on the situation. You could require an entire team of developers or just one specialist with a specific skill.
Then comes the onboarding. You meet your team with the professionals you hired and show them the specifications of the project. After they get familiar with the workflow of your employees, which can take some time, they’re ready to work. Perhaps you could prepare a quick training to familiarise them with your internal processes.
Last but not least, you can’t leave the project to itself. You will need to keep your hand on the pulse at all times and manage the whole ordeal. See if the cooperation is going well, whether some tweaks need to be made, or assign different roles.
Should you do it?
There are a few cases where staff augmentation is better than outsourcing or hiring in-house and these are:
- You don’t have the necessary budget to finance an entire team of developers or you just want to save some money.
- You need a specific specialist with a particular skill that your team is missing.
- Your project goes beyond the scope of your team and you need additional manpower.
- There are no professionals in your area to hire.
- Your project needs flexibility, as it’s possible that the requirements will shift during the development.
Staff augmentation can be a relatively simple process with a lot of upsides to it. You have the scalability, flexibility, reduced costs, and control. While it’s definitely not the ideal solution to all your projects, it undoubtedly can prove to be useful at times. Still, you need to conduct some research before hiring somebody.