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December 26, 2023 - by Devico Team

Risks of Staff Augmentation and How to Mitigate Them

Resource augmentation is becoming extremely popular even though there are a lot of horror stories about it from awful quality, hidden costs, and slippages to data leakage and poor communication. Indeed, some companies have got their fingers burnt implementing staff augmentation. Anyway, it does not mean that this hiring model is not efficient. In fact, it provides multiple benefits, you just need to consider common pitfalls of staff augmentation and learn the ways to avoid them before giving it a try. Got interested? Stay tuned – we are going to dig into the concept of staff augmentation, its key benefits, associated risks, and efficient ways to mitigate them.

The Concept of Staff Augmentation

Assuming that some of our readers may have a vague idea of staff augmentation, we offer to start from the basics and give its definition. So staff augmentation is a widely used business strategy and a type of outsourcing that lets companies quickly fill in gaps in talent capacity and achieve particular project goals by engaging specialists with specific experience and skill sets on an interim basis. As a rule, these temporary workers are supplied by third-party staffing agencies, and their services are paid by the hour.

Staff augmentation is the best way to fix fluctuations in staff demand due to which businesses can quickly engage some extra hands and brains or dispose of them with regard to current project needs. These days businesses of all kinds and sizes opt for staff augmentation in order to tackle a talent shortage and enhance the performance of their in-house teams. In essence, this hiring model brings a plethora of benefits, and we would like to talk more specifically about them.

Benefits of Staff Augmentation

Key Benefits of Staff Augmentation for Business

The popularity of staff augmentation is explained by the multiple benefits that businesses yield from it. So let’s specify the key of them.

  • Access to an Extensive Talent Pool

It is not a secret that sometimes it is very difficult to find a specialist with the required skills and experience. Far too often a long-lasting recruitment process brings no results. Staff augmentation as a type of outsourcing gives an opportunity to efficiently handle a staff shortage by granting businesses access to a rich pool of specialists with the most diverse skills from all over the world. A wide choice of IT specialists as well as expert assistance from a staff augmentation vendor let businesses find the best fit to complete their internal team.

  • Time Efficiency

No need to say that time is the most valuable asset and resource for any business. Therefore, swift team ramp-up and quick engagement of a needed talent is often a matter of life and death. Failure to meet deadlines and deliver a product on time can cost a fortune. Thanks to the above-mentioned access to the global talent pool, staff augmentation lets businesses not only find the experts they need but also do this within the shortest possible time.

  • Complete Control

Compared to outsourcing, IT staffing augmentation provides businesses with complete control over engaged specialists. They join your existing team and work in the same way as the rest of the team members. They are at your command, and you or your representative supervise them, assign them tasks, and track their performance.

  • Flexibility

We all know that tight deadlines and frequent changes in requirements are the norm for modern IT projects. As a result, businesses often experience fluctuations in staff demand. In the course of software development, a team is constantly scaled up and scaled down with regard to the current project needs. Full-time employment limits your flexibility in these terms. However, resource augmentation gives a golden opportunity to efficiently tackle the issue. Providers of IT staff augmentation services can quickly supply you with extra labor resources, and being not committed to long-lasting contracts you can also easily lay them off as soon as their services are not needed anymore.

  • Cost saving

Full-time employment suggests significant expenses on payroll taxes, health insurance, parental leave, sick leave, training, fringe benefits, and others. Staff augmentation, in turn, is a great way to optimize your costs because in this case, you pay your vendor only for the provided services according to the contract terms. That is why if you are on a tight budget, but need to quickly boost the capacity of your IT department, staff augmentation can be of great help.

  • Fewer hassles

Staff augmentation is not only about efficiency, speed, and budget-friendliness; it is also about convenience. By implementing this hiring model you may not bother yourself with workplace maintenance, equipment procurement, staff retention, training, etc. All the related administrative, legal, and operational issues are settled by your IT staff augmentation partner. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

We must admit that the presented list is not complete. Still, even these few named advantages let us understand that staff augmentation is worth our attention and consideration. Over the years it has proved its value enabling multiple businesses to achieve their goals by engaging required talent.

When is Staff Augmentation the Way to Go

When is Staff Augmentation the Way to Go?

With regard to the advantages that staff augmentation has, it can be of great help in the following situations:

  • Team reinforcement

Even having an extensive in-house IT team, one may have a need for extra specialists when launching new software solutions or projects. In this case, it is very convenient to augment the IT team while still using internal resources. Most companies that opt for a staff augmentation strategy use it for their team reinforcement.

  • Risk of not meeting a deadline

In general, the recruitment of IT specialists is a pretty long process whose average duration is about two months. If you feel that there is a high likelihood of not meeting a deadline, you may not have much time to find and employ extra specialists in a traditional way. Still, the implementation of an IT staff augmentation gives an opportunity to access an extensive pool of talents and quickly engage needed IT specialists for a certain period of time.

  • Need for specific or rare skill set

Staff augmentation is indeed the best way to fill in even the most specific skill and knowledge gaps in an existing team by engaging extra specialists with the needed experience. Augmented DevOps engineers, QA engineers, data scientists, or BAs can assist you set up and fine-tune corresponding processes while training your existing in-house staff.

  • Temporary staffing solution

Staff augmentation can also help bring in experts to cover short-term staff needs while you strive to find, recruit, and hire permanent employees. In essence, augmented staff can easily fill in a gap so that your team can keep working on projects while you proceed with the usual recruitment process.

How Does It Work?

Now that you clearly understand the concept of staff augmentation and its main benefits, let’s get acquainted with the key steps of the IT staff augmentation process:

  • Talent Gap Identification

It is no wonder that everything starts when companies get aware of their staffing needs. Thus, they analyze if they have enough labor resources to have work done properly or need some additional IT staff for this. If there is a certain gap, they can introduce IT staff augmentation as the best solution.

  • Choice of an IT Staff Augmentation Partner

As soon as companies have defined their staffing needs, they need to start searching for a suitable provider of IT staff augmentation services. In these terms, it is highly advised to pay attention to the reputation, achievements, awards, and track records of potential partners as well as feedback from their former and current clients. To receive desired results deal only with trusted vendors.

  • Prescreening

While diligent providers of IT staff augmentation services scan their pool to find IT specialists with the most suitable skill sets, it never hurts to have personal interviews with candidates to be sure that they are indeed the best possible fit for you.

  • Onboarding

The next step is the integration of approved candidates into an in-house team. In the course of an onboarding process companies usually introduce augmented staff to other team members, grant them access to data about the projects they are going to work on, etc. This way new hires can quickly get up to speed. Besides, it also helps to avoid gaps in communication between augmented staff and members of an internal team.

  • Process Management

Finally, companies manage their augmented staff. To set up a smooth workflow one should have clear expectations and efficient, regular communication with a vendor. This way all possible miscommunications or misunderstandings can be nipped in the bud. Additionally, it is also important to make sure that you get the services that you pay for.

Common Pitfalls of Staff Augmentation and the Best Ways to Avoid Them

Staff augmentation has proved to be a highly effective staffing strategy that helps millions of companies work efficiently and achieve their goals with minimum effort and costs. Still, it also has certain pitfalls that you should be well aware of in order to avoid them and get the most out of resource augmentation. You know: forewarned is forearmed. Therefore, we find it essential to outline not only the benefits that resource augmentation brings, but also the risks associated with it. Let’s dive deeper into this topic.

Risk 1: Skill Set Mismatch

Engaging the right talent with the required skills is crucial for any project. But quite often companies struggle to fill positions fast due to the lack of skilled specialists on the job market. While staff augmentation serves to simplify this task, there is still a certain risk of leaving dissatisfied with the capabilities and skills of provided specialists. Some businesses augment staff and after a while find out that their real skills do not match the ones stated in their profiles and that they cannot complete assigned tasks properly or in time. As a result, these companies may fail to meet their deadlines or face other related difficulties.

Mitigation strategy: To mitigate this risk partner only with a reputed and trusted staff augmentation company. Pick up the one that offers an extensive talent pool, diverse skill set, considerable technological background, and deep expertise across various business domains. You should do leg work to find the perfect partner, but it is worth it. Moreover, even if you cooperate with a trustworthy provider of IT staff augmentation services, never buy a pig in a poke. Always meticulously study the profiles of offered candidates and have video calls with them to make sure that they tick all the boxes. To dispel doubts you can also ask to accomplish a test task.

Risk 2: Poor Communication and Collaboration Issues

We all know that efficient communication and collaboration lie at the heart of every thriving project. At the same time, this is a well-known fact that due to the lack of direct interaction remote working does not contribute to establishing cooperative relationships between all team members. As you may guess this is also an issue for staff augmentation. When working with augmented staff, there can be communication gaps resulting in different misunderstandings. Communication breakdowns and delays may be also a result of a language barrier, cultural misfit, and large time difference. Consequently, the whole team may experience frustration negatively affecting the success of the project.

Mitigation strategy: To avoid possible communication gaps we strongly recommend you take advantage of modern communication tools and techniques that foster a collaborative work environment and promote fruitful cooperation within remote, cross-cultural teams. So choose preferred communication channels and establish regular meetups to ensure that everyone is in the loop. Video conferences, chats, and even project management tools can be leveraged to help keep all team members including external ones on the same page. Regular meetings, frequent progress reports, and well-defined escalation procedures can also facilitate maintaining open and consistent communication. Besides, if you opt for working with an offshore staff augmentation company ensure that your working hours at least partially overlap and always check whether offered specialists have a good command of English.

Risk 3: Data Security and Confidentiality Concerns

Security plays a significant role in any IT project, it goes without saying. When staff augmentation is applied, external staff are granted access to your sensitive data including the personal information of your clients or your secret documents. Some businesses refrain from staff augmentation and prefer full-time employment just because of security reasons. Data leakage can damage a reputation, endanger project success, and result in multiple legal proceedings from clients. Those who decide to give staff augmentation a try anyway must take some preventive measures to securely protect their data from any nonlegitimate access or other threats.

Mitigation strategy: To mitigate the risk of data leakage and avoid its subsequent negative effects, businesses must partner with trustworthy staff augmentation providers and ensure that engaged staff is well-trained on modern cybersecurity protocols and the best data privacy practices. The fact of the matter is that usually, augmented staff do not have the intention to steal your data, but due to the lack of corresponding knowledge and detailed guidelines they may make a fatal mistake that can eventually result in data leakage. All in all, here are a few security measures we advise you to consider:

  • Design clear non-disclosure agreements for all engaged specialists that outline leveraged cybersecurity protocols, applied regulations, and security measures to be taken.

  • Check if your staff augmentation vendor uses the best security practices and adheres to global security standards.

  • Ensure that engaged specialists are well-versed in data security protocols and corporate security policies.

  • Track the activities of your staff to be certain that they strictly adhere to cybersecurity procedures.

  • Update implemented cybersecurity strategy on an ongoing basis and inform your staff of all changes in security policies.

  • Make sure that all your team members are well aware of the importance of data security, know the way data protection works, and realize the security threats related to the usage of weak passwords and personal devices.

Bottom line

Traditional recruitment can slow down a development process. It takes much more time, effort, and money to keep full-time employees. Staff augmentation, in turn, lets businesses staff up swiftly with minimum effort while also saving some costs. However, every rose has its thorn. Staff augmentation has certain risks as well. Skill set mismatch, poor communication, collaboration issues, and confidentiality concerns are the most common ones. Still, we believe that now as you know about them, you can design a proper staff augmentation strategy to easily avoid all pitfalls, ensure smooth work, and achieve your most ambitious business goals.

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