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January 02, 2024 - by Devico Team

How to Address IT Skill Gaps through Staff Augmentation

Companies worldwide encounter limitations in their growth due to a skill gap. Indeed, this is a burning problem, particularly in the IT sector. Thus, Statista’s study shows that in 2022, about 70 percent of employers experienced a tech skill shortage. Digitalization and rapid technology development are named the key reasons for IT talent scarcity. The first one has arisen a high demand for highly skilled IT specialists worldwide while the second one makes it difficult to quickly train a sufficient number of specialists in emerging technologies. Actually, most employers admit that looking for an expert in cutting-edge tech with profound domain knowledge is the same as searching for a unicorn. However, fast-paced technology development cuts two ways – companies having legacy tech stacks also face difficulties with hiring specialists for their maintenance.

In general, the most challenging IT hires these days are AI developers, especially experts in computer vision and ML, DevOps engineers, cybersecurity specialists, neural network developers, and experts in quantum programming.

The skill gap poses a significant challenge for IT companies as it affects their teams’ workload and performance, innovativeness, output quality, business adaptability, user satisfaction, and ultimately, profitability. Faced with these challenges, business owners reconsider their hiring strategies and take a broader view. More and more of them finally end up introducing staff augmentation as the most efficient and fast way to fill in existing talent gaps. If you are mulling it over as well, then our article will provide you with some valuable insights.

IT Staff Augmentation

What is Staff Augmentation

The scarcity of skilled IT specialists for particular needs has given rise to the IT staff augmentation concept. Agile, budget-friendly, hassle-free, and efficient, it has taken the IT sector by storm as companies increasingly turn to staff augmentation to fulfill the needs of their projects.

Staff augmentation is a modern hiring model suggesting the engagement of external experts with a distinct skill set for a certain time period to tackle a particular task or project. As a subtype of outsourcing, staff augmentation provides a golden opportunity not to restrict yourself to a local job market only but to tap into a global talent pool to bring in the specialists you need to have in your team.

This approach offers extensive flexibility as you are not committed to long-term contracts. Moreover, you do not need to engage a whole dedicated team from an outsourcing company, instead, you can take a pinpointed approach by outsourcing only a particular specialist(s).

Not only does IT staff augmentation allow organizations to bridge skill gaps while avoiding the commitment of recruiting full-time staff, but it also enables them to save costs, quickly grow their capacity, and complete projects on time. However, as long as augmented staff work remotely, you need to put more effort into work coordination and team management. On the flip side, companies that have continued remote work after the COVID-19 pandemic hardly notice any difference in managing internal personnel and augmented staff. So we would like to wrap up with a message – “Don’t be afraid of harnessing external resources if it can help you reach your most ambitious goals and maintain competitiveness in your niche.”

7 ways staff augmentation bridges the skills gap

Staff augmentation is deemed to be a highly effective method for addressing skill gaps within organizations. It comes with a multitude of benefits that contribute to bridging these gaps effectively. Here are seven key ways in which staff augmentation achieves this:

1. Rich talent pool

Staff augmentation is based on remote work. This means that you are not constrained by geographic boundaries and can consider candidates from all over the world, significantly expanding your access to different talent pools. This lets you find experts with the required skills much faster. Whether you need someone with rich expertise in a certain tech stack, programming language, or domain, you can easily find them with the help of staff augmentation.

2. No long-term commitment

Staff augmentation releases you from long-term contracts or employment relationships. As a result, you can quickly adjust to new skill requirements. Besides this is the best way to tackle short-term projects or specialized tasks where hiring full-time employees is not reasonable and cost-effective.

3. Flexibility

As we discussed above, staff augmentation is perfect to cover some short-term needs as whenever the work has been done, specialists can be painlessly dismissed. Yet, staff augmentation is actually all about flexibility helping quickly ramp up or ramp down teams with regard to the current workload and needs of a company. This flexibility helps you efficiently manage skill gaps as they arise.

4. Cost-effectiveness

High local salary rates can be one of the reasons behind the company’s inability to fill in current skill gaps. In this case, staff augmentation can be the best possible solution by giving an opportunity to bring in top-tier professionals without breaking the bank due to the fact that they are based in countries with lower-middle-income or upper-middle-income economies.

5. Lower time expenditures

Staff augmentation provides a more streamlined hiring process, but there is more. As a rule, staff augmentation employees are seasoned and need less training and onboarding than new hires. This accelerates project timelines.

6. Knowledge sharing

Staff augmentation comes with natural knowledge transfer in case a company establishes close collaboration between all team members. Thus, external experts can train in-house personnel, helping bridge skill and knowledge gaps. Over time, this leads to developing significant internal expertise.

7. Diversity of skills

Staff augmentation providers typically maintain teams with diverse skill sets. These professionals continually enhance their skills through exposure to various projects. This diversity allows organizations to simultaneously address multiple skill gaps, ensuring a well-rounded and capable workforce.

Staff augmentation not only fills skill gaps but also offers a range of other advantages. Countless real-world examples underscore the effectiveness of this strategy. Take, for instance, one of Devico's clients, a small Swiss company facing challenges in acquiring and retaining professional staff. The thing is that Switzerland is a small country with a small population. After graduation, locals prefer to work for the Google division based there or other large tech companies. To compete for top-tier and ambitious staff, our client had to offer high salaries, numerous benefits, and career growth opportunities. However, this approach was unsustainable. Finally, the company's board of directors made a pivotal decision: engage external specialists through staff augmentation to address skill gaps and reduce costs. Now, after collaborating with us for a few years, they have come to recognize staff augmentation as the best approach for companies like theirs. For more details on this success story, tune in to the Devico Breakfast Bar episode featuring Janosch Greber, VP of Engineering at RealTyme.

Staff Augmentation vs. Traditional Hiring

Now that you have a general understanding of staff augmentation, let's delve deeper into its comparison with traditional hiring across various criteria:

  • Access to Specialized Skills

Staff augmentation excels in this category because it provides access to the global talent pool. This approach allows companies to locate and engage specialists with even the most hard-to-find skills. Traditional hiring, which is typically limited to the local job market only, may be inefficient in some cases.

  • Cost

While finding the right professionals is a victory in itself, bringing them on board with minimal expenses is even better. Here, again, staff augmentation has a significant advantage over traditional full-time employment. With staff augmentation, you not only acquire highly professional specialists at a lower rate compared to one in your own country but also avoid subsequent expenses related to staff training, benefits, taxes, workplace maintenance, equipment procurement, and others. In the case of traditional full-time employment, all of these costs fall on your shoulders.

  • Time investment

The traditional recruitment process is quite time-consuming. Not only should you scan a job market for a suitable IT specialist but also hold numerous job interviews. Besides, even if the 101 candidate finally meets all the requirements, you might have to negotiate to persuade them to accept your offer. Moreover, you might need to wait an additional one or two months due to a notice period. These prospects are less than ideal, especially when facing strict deadlines. On the other hand, staff augmentation is supposed to be more efficient as you get in touch with providers of staff augmentation services, submit them a job description, and they immediately start scanning their talent pools to select perfect candidates for you. Again, you must hold interviews to be sure that the provided specialists are indeed appropriate for you, but the whole process is more streamlined. As soon as the best match has been found, they get onboarded almost as soon as possible.

  • Administrative burden

Traditional employment involves numerous administrative tasks related to payroll payments, leave management, staff retention, professional training, and more. Staff augmentation relieves you of these tasks. Consequently, you and your in-house staff have more time to focus on other critical matters.

  • Flexibility

The workload on any project is not the same, besides sometimes you may need to engage a specialist to complete a particular crucial but short-term task. Traditional hiring can be rigid in such cases, and labor laws may also impose restrictions. Staff augmentation, in turn, offers unparalleled flexibility. You may hire as many specialists as you need and swiftly and painlessly increase or decrease their number with regard to your current project needs.

  • Security

While you can discuss with your staff augmentation vendor all security requirements in advance and include them in a contract, traditional hiring offers direct control over adherence to security policies since all employees usually work under the same roof.

  • Management

Managing in-house employees is typically easier than managing augmented staff. The latter requires more effort in terms of work planning, coordination, and supervision. However, if remote working is a common practice at your company, you may not notice a significant difference in managing internal and external team members.

Both traditional hiring and staff augmentation have their strengths and weaknesses and your choice between them depends on your budget, project needs, timeframes security requirements, and organizational preferences.

Facets to Consider When Choosing IT Staff Augmentation Services

If you have come to the conclusion that staff augmentation is the way to go, it is paramount to deal with a trusted provider of staff augmentation services. So, how do you make the right partner choice? First and foremost, you need to vet all potential staff augmentation partners. In this regard, we recommend considering the following facets:

  • Experience

Ensure that a staff augmentation company has significant experience in the industry and is well-versed in its practices. It should have a proven track record of collaborating with diverse and numerous companies, especially those similar to yours. This experience allows them to better understand the unique challenges and requirements of your field, making it much easier to find the most suitable specialists for your project.

  • Reputation

It is strongly advised to check the reputation of a staff augmentation company by reviewing client testimonials, portfolios, and ratings on trusted platforms like Clutch. A strong history of successful engagements is a positive indicator. Still, in case you have any doubts, do not hesitate to ask for references from a provider.

  • Talent Pool

Your skill requirements may change quite frequently. Therefore, it's preferable to partner with a company that maintains an extensive and diverse talent pool. This not only incredibly improves your chances of finding the right talents but also provides flexibility in ramping teams up or down with regard to the current needs.

  • Geographic location

Consider whether you prefer an onshore, nearshore, or offshore partner. The location not only impacts service costs but also communication. A significant time difference may introduce certain communication challenges, so choose a location that meets your needs.

  • Cultural compatibility

This may be not so obvious but beyond having excellent technical skills, a person should also fit into your company's culture. Shared values and compatibility in work culture facilitate smooth cooperation, effective communication, and successful partnership.

  • Communication

Communication is worth noting individually. Transparent and efficient communication is essential for remote teams. Consider companies that can adjust to your time zone, provide frequent updates, and ensure efficient collaboration. Cultural fit, as well as proficiency in English, also plays an important role in successful communication with a staff augmentation company.

  • Price policy

Study the pricing model of your potential partner and ensure it is in line with your budgetary requirements. But remember that chasing for the cheapest solution is usually not efficient – sometimes by paying a bit more, you can get significant returns in quality, efficiency, and project deliverables.

  • Security

Protecting your intellectual property and sensitive data should be your priority. Check whether the data security measures of a staff augmentation company comply with industry standards and regulations.

  • Contract terms and conditions

Discuss terms of SLAs in advance paying particular attention to terms related to service scope, response times, issue resolution, notice periods, termination clauses, penalties, intellectual property rights, and other critical aspects to ensure accountability.

To make an informed decision you need to consider a lot of things. Still, by investing some time and effort in this study you will find a staff augmentation partner that meets all your requirements.

Best Practices to Thrive with Team Augmentation

Staff augmentation can significantly enhance your business capabilities. However, to use its potential to its full extent, it's essential to adopt best practices that maximize the benefits of staff augmentation. Let’s have a look at some of them:

Set clear project objectivesStart by defining your objectives, project scope, and the exact skills you require from augmented staff. A clear vision will guide your selection process.
Define your expectations clearlyBefore choosing an augmented team member, outline what expertise, experience, hard skills, and soft skills they should possess.
Ensure seamless onboardingIntroduce a robust onboarding process to integrate augmented staff seamlessly. Provide them with access to documentation, resources, tools, and training to get them up to speed as quickly as possible.
Promote transparent communicationCultivate transparent and trusted communication between your internal and augmented teams as it lies behind every successful collaboration. Encourage regular meetings, frequent updates, and the exchange of ideas to maintain team synergy.
Ensure efficient team managementA unified project management approach encompassing both in-house and augmented teams can be of great help. Also, leverage modern collaboration platforms and project management tools to streamline workflows.
Host team-building activitiesOrganize diverse team-building activities and engage augmented staff in them. Both virtual and in-person events strengthen bonds and improve collaboration.
Regularly evaluate performanceAssess the performance of your augmented staff on an ongoing basis. Provide constructive feedback if needed and always recognize achievements to motivate the team and improve results.

By implementing these practices, you can leverage the full potential of team augmentation and achieve greater success in your projects.

Final Thoughts

Staff augmentation has undoubtedly proven its worth in efficiently addressing skill gaps, but its merits extend far beyond this singular benefit and also include lower costs, time efficiency, and reduced administrative work.

If your local job market and traditional hiring cannot satisfy your needs, it's time to harness the power of staff augmentation. Instant access to a global talent pool immensely increases your chances of quickly finding a specialist with the precise skill set.

To succeed with this hiring strategy, all you need to do is clearly define your needs and requirements, partner with a trustworthy staff augmentation company, and be prepared to effectively manage your remote team members. So, break free from conventional constraints and give staff augmentation a try – it may very well be the key to unlocking your organization's full potential.

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