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January 19, 2024 - by Devico Team

What is Staff Augmentation and How Does It Work

Staff augmentation is rapidly conquering the IT community. In today's post-COVID era, most businesses have come to recognize that remote work can be just as efficient as on-site work, provided there is an effective management approach in place. This newfound openness to onboarding remote specialists, along with the global scarcity of IT skills, is driving the widespread adoption of this hiring strategy.

Despite its increasing popularity, many people still lack a clear understanding of the true staff augmentation meaning. If you find yourself in this category, you've come to the right place. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about this modern hiring strategy. Rest assured, you'll find answers to all your questions here.

What is staff augmentation?

Well, let’s start with the basics. Do you remember the fairytale of Cinderella? She eagerly wanted to attend the Royal Ball but lacked a smart, fancy outfit, as well as a coach with horses and a coachman. However, her Fairy Godmother appeared out of nowhere and worked her magic to provide Cinderella with everything she needed to go to the ball, where she outshone the rest and won the heart of Prince Charming.

The story of Cinderella can be used to explain the concept of staff augmentation in simple terms:

  • Cinderella: Cinderella represents a company that lacks the internal resources or expertise (smart outfit, a coach, a coachman, and horses) to complete a certain task or project efficiently.

  • The Royal Ball: The project or task serves as the "Royal Ball," where Cinderella (i.e., the company) needs to perform exceptionally well.

  • Fairy Godmother: The staff augmentation service provider acts as the "Fairy Godmother" by quickly providing the company with specialists possessing the needed knowledge and experience to excel in the given role or task. Similar to how Fairy Godmother's spells only work until midnight, augmented staff contribute to your project temporarily, i.e., until their assistance is needed.

  • Prince Charming: The "Prince Charming" can be seen as the company's investors or end-users who are pleased with your project that has been successfully completed with the help of augmented staff.

In this analogy, staff augmentation, like the Fairy Godmother, steps in to provide the necessary labor resources to help a company succeed in its endeavors, just as Cinderella needed assistance to shine at the Royal Ball. The only distinction is that while the Fairy Godmother acts pro bono, staff augmentation implies paying a service fee, which is still lower than employing specialists in-house.

Coming back to strict business terms, staff augmentation can be defined as a modern hiring strategy that suggests extending your in-house team with external specialists to fill short-term job positions or complete highly specific tasks.

The peculiarities of the IT industry, such as the growing rates for IT specialists, the shortage of IT talent, and the necessity to develop software solutions rapidly, have made staff augmentation services particularly popular within this niche.

Traditional recruiting can be rather stressful, time-consuming, and costly. Additionally, in-house employment is not appropriate for short-term job positions. On the flip side, staff augmentation companies can quickly provide you with the IT specialists you need, whether they are junior, mid-level, or senior developers, QA experts, UI/UX designers, system administrators, software architects, etc. The engagement period of these specialists can vary, ranging from short-term to long-term, based on your specific project needs.

Speed, convenience, efficiency, flexibility, and budget-friendliness are the key merits of staff augmentation. If these are exactly what your business needs - give it a try.

Main Types of Staff Augmentation

As mentioned above, staff augmentation can be both short-term and long-term, but there's more to it. It is further categorized into three common types: commodity-based, skill-based, and highly-skilled. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

1. Commodity-based Augmentation

Commodity-based augmentation implies the hiring of labor resources with common skills to fulfill standard roles within an organization. It is suitable for positions and tasks that do not require highly specialized expertise. Commodity-based augmentation is considered as a cheaper way to staff essential but less specialized roles.

2. Skill-based Augmentation

Skill-based augmentation allows businesses to bring in talent with specific skills necessary for the successful implementation of unique projects or specialized tasks. Businesses opt for skill-based augmentation when they require expertise that their internal team lacks. Skill-based augmentation provides an opportunity to obtain the precise skills needed without any long-term commitments.

3. Highly Skilled Augmentation

This type of staff augmentation allows businesses to acquire top-tier experts with exceptional proficiency, vast experience, and a proven track record in completing complex and specialized tasks. They are often sought after for critical projects where the highest level of competency is required. While more expensive, professional augmentation ensures that the most challenging and critical tasks are managed by real domain champions.

How Does Staff Augmentation Work?

Now, it is time to find out how the concept of staff augmentation is implemented. Obviously, it implies collaboration with a third-party vendor, i.e. a provider of staff augmentation services. Let's see how this process works, using Devico as an example:

  • Identification of business needs

At the initial stage, we focus on identifying your unique business needs. This involves clarifying your business goals, project requirements, preferred timeframes, development methodologies, the current phase of software development, and more. We engage in a thorough discussion to understand precisely what IT specialists you require. This includes determining the number of specialists, their preferred proficiency level (junior, mid-level, senior), specific skill sets, and domain expertise. Our primary goal at this stage is to collect as many details as possible to ensure an utter understanding of your requirements and to find the most suitable candidates for your project.

  • Selection of candidates

The next step is searching for the perfect match in our talent pool. We evaluate individuals who are currently available and those who will be available soon. In the event that we do not find a match within our talent pool, our dedicated recruitment team initiates a search for external tech talents. The profiles of the most appropriate candidates are then sent to you for consideration. Notably, when collaborating with staff augmentation companies, you do not encounter any recruitment costs, unlike cooperation with recruitment agencies.

  • Interviews with candidates

As soon as you have studied the profiles we provided and chosen the most suitable candidates, we set up video calls with them so that you can assess their soft and tech skills to be 100% sure of their competency. The candidates can go through several interview stages if needed.

  • Signing of contracts

Once you have chosen the candidates who best align with your requirements, we proceed to sign a comprehensive contract that clearly outlines the obligations of all parties involved. Additionally, signing a non-disclosure agreement is a standard practice for us, ensuring the security and confidentiality of your project.

  • Onboarding

On the specified start date, the onboarding process for our specialists begins. They join your team and become a dedicated part of your workforce, working alongside your in-house staff to perform the tasks you or your managers assign. Our specialists are at your full disposal and play by your rules.

  • Collaboration

Our IT specialists work under your direct supervision and follow your processes and corporate culture. Also, throughout the collaboration, our Client Success Manager stays in close contact with you to ensure that our engineers meet your expectations and nip any potential issues in the bud. You can dismiss engaged IT specialists with just one month's notice or bring in additional engineers as needed to scale your team according to your project requirements.

Advantages of IT Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation is a buzzword, and probably you’ve heard a lot about its efficiency. We offer to discuss its key advantages in detail.

  • On-demand Service

Staff augmentation is an on-demand service due to which you can easily bring in and remove additional labor resources whenever there is a need. In other words, you can enjoy flexibility by engaging augmented staff only when you need them to strengthen your in-house team.

  • Cost Savings

One of the most noteworthy advantages of staff augmentation is cost efficiency. When engaging augmented staff, you can avoid numerous additional expenses associated with infrastructure, labor taxes, software licensing, perks, training programs, and legal and administrative services. These financial burdens are shouldered by your staff augmentation partner, enabling you to pay only a specified hourly rate for each specialist. This rate is generally lower than local salary rates, especially when partnering with offshore staff augmentation providers.

  • Access to Brilliant Talent

These days many businesses face a lack of talent who can bring and fulfill their creative ideas. Staff augmentation services break down geographic barriers, allowing companies to take advantage of a global talent pool. This means that businesses are no longer limited to the local job market and can access even the most hard-to-find and highly professional IT specialists in no time.

  • Meeting Deadlines

Staff augmentation is a lifeline for situations where project deadlines are at risk. By quickly strengthening your in-house team with the right talent, you can immensely accelerate project execution. Staff augmentation providers have streamlined recruiting and hiring processes, ensuring that the needed experts join your team in the shortest possible time, helping you meet tight project deadlines.

  • Full Control

While working usually remotely, the augmented staff operates under your complete control and in close cooperation with your in-house team members. You manage and supervise them on your own making sure that the project is implemented according to your specifications and standards.

  • Convenience

In-house employment is associated with a multitude of hassles: time-incentive recruitment and hiring procedures, efforts to attract top-tier talent, provision of numerous perks to retain employees, administrative and legal issues, etc. Staff augmentation services alleviate these burdens, allowing you to completely focus on your core business tasks. Your staff augmentation partner handles all the above-mentioned issues while you just receive the professionals you need for a stated rate without any long-term obligations.

  • Knowledge Transfer

Augmented staff integrates into your internal team and closely collaborates with it. This enables knowledge sharing thanks to which your in-house experts have the opportunity to gain new knowledge, refine their skills, and bridge the gaps. This knowledge transfer ensures that your team becomes more autonomous and better equipped to handle future projects with the needed expertise.

Drawbacks of IT Staff Augmentation

Our guideline wouldn’t be full without a section about the pitfalls of staff augmentation. While bringing numerous benefits to you, staff augmentation also has certain pitfalls that you need to know in order to avoid trouble.

  • Security Concerns

Staff augmentation entails a level of trust as you work with external experts who become an essential part of your internal operations. To address security concerns, it's paramount to ensure that your staff augmentation partner has robust security measures in place. Additionally, obtaining a signed Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) from the augmented staff is a must for data protection. Also, we recommend you regularly carry out security audits to guarantee comprehensive data security.

  • Additional Managerial Effort

Since augmented staff usually do not operate in your office, more efforts are required to establish efficient management and communication to coordinate the work of in-house and external staff and keep both in tune with each other during their work on a project. Effective management becomes paramount to ensure the success of such collaboration.

  • Improper Technical Expertise

The competency of augmented staff can vary. It's essential to meticulously check candidates and evaluate their mastery and expertise to ensure they align with your requirements. First try, then trust!

  • Legal Issues

Based on your location and the location of your augmented staff, certain legal or compliance issues may arise. Sometimes ensuring compliance with employment laws and regulations can be a rather daunting task, requiring a deep understanding of the legal landscape in multiple jurisdictions. Legal and compliance matters must be addressed diligently to avoid potential complications.

  • Dependency on External Resources

Overreliance on your staff augmentation partner can result in a significant dependency. If your in-house team cannot retain the knowledge and skills brought by external experts, it may become less self-reliant in the long run. It's essential to have a strategy in place for knowledge sharing and long-term skill development within your organization.

  • Communication Challenges

Collaboration with a staff augmentation company can introduce communication challenges. Differences in time zones, language difficulties, and cultural misfits may have a great impact on the efficiency of such collaboration. So, when selecting candidates pay attention to their location, proficiency in English, and cultural compatibility.

Being aware of these drawbacks and taking proactive measures to address them is vital for a successful staff augmentation experience. Clear communication, rigorous vetting processes, strong security measures, and effective management practices can help overcome these challenges and give you an opportunity to use the advantages of staff augmentation more effectively.

When Businesses Use Staff Augmentation Services

Staff augmentation is highly efficient, but there are certain scenarios in which this hiring model is especially beneficial:

  • Tight Project Deadlines

Today’s business environment makes businesses respond quickly to frequently changed market demands and trends. Allowing companies to bring in qualified specialists from extensive talent pools spread across the globe as soon as possible, staff augmentation is perfect if you have a need for an extra hand to develop faster and deliver software solutions to the market rapidly.

  • Seasonal Workload Peaks

During peak seasons or periods of high demand, businesses may use staff augmentation services to temporarily reinforce their workforce and boost team performance. This ensures that they can meet client demands without committing to long-term hires.

  • Lack of internal expertise

If your in-house staff has a gap in the knowledge or skills needed to complete a project successfully, staff augmentation lets you access specialists in the corresponding field. This helps bridge the gap and ensures successful project completion.

  • Tight Budget

Salary rates for IT specialists in certain countries are very high, especially when it comes to top-notch experts. For cost-conscious businesses, including startups, staff augmentation serves as a budget-friendly alternative letting them bring in brilliant offshore talent at affordable rates, helping them stay within budget.

  • Unexpected Resignations

There are things that you cannot foresee and control. Your key team member may resign suddenly or take an extensive leave. In this situation, staff augmentation offers a quick solution to assist you with maintaining project continuity. External specialists can step in while you are seeking a permanent replacement.

  • Short-Term Resource Needs

Some projects may involve short-term but highly specialized tasks that require specific expertise. In such cases, traditional in-house hiring is impractical. Staff augmentation comes with incredible flexibility, allowing businesses to engage needed specialists for these short-term tasks without committing to long-term employment.

  • Scaling for Growth

Businesses facing rapid growth use staff augmentation to swiftly scale their workforce—this way they can handle increased workload without the delays associated with traditional hiring strategy.

  • Emergency Cases

In emergency situations, for instance, cybersecurity attacks, businesses may need immediate help from security experts. Staff augmentation can provide access to such specialists to address critical issues.

Tips for Effective IT Staff Augmentation

Finally, we would like to give you some pieces of advice to help you get the most out of this modern hiring strategy.

  • Clearly define your needs

First and foremost, define your project's objectives and requirements. Utterly understand the specific skills or expertise your team needs to achieve your business goals. Clarity in your goals and needs will help you find the right specialists.

  • Select a trustworthy partner

Selecting a staff augmentation partner may require a lot of legwork as you need to thoroughly check your potential partners against a long list of criteria including experience, industry knowledge, portfolio, talent pool, received awards, feedback from clients and employees, etc. Such research needs a lot of your effort and time, but believe – it is worth it. Opt for a company with a proven track record that you can trust.

  • Thoroughly check candidates

Take your time to thoroughly vet and interview all potential candidates. Evaluate their hard skills, experience, soft skills, English level, and cultural compatibility with your team. Ensure their competency aligns with your requirements.

  • Effectively onboard augmented staff

Provide a comprehensive onboarding process for augmented staff. Assign an onboarding buddy and provide available documentation to ensure they understand your project, goals, and company culture. This will help them integrate smoothly into your internal team.

  • Establish effective and transparent communication

Set clear communication to ensure fruitful cooperation between in-house and augmented staff. The use of modern communication tools and regular meetups will keep all team members in the loop which is essential for project success.

  • Set clear expectations

We recommend you clearly define and articulate roles, responsibilities, and expectations for internal and augmented staff. This way everyone on the team will know their duties and contribute effectively to your project.

  • Maintain solid data security

Implement stringent data security measures to protect your sensitive information. Obligate augmented staff to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and make sure they adhere to the security policy of your company.

  • Conduct regular check-ins

Set up regular check-in meetings to assess work progress, proactively address problems, and provide feedback continuously. This ensures that everyone stays aligned with project goals.

Wrapping up

Staff augmentation helps modern businesses meet challenges and efficiently address issues related to talent scarcity, high salary rates, tight deadlines, short-term resource needs, and many others. Utter flexibility, speed, convenience, efficiency, direct control, and budget-friendliness make it a widely adopted hiring model worldwide.

While staff augmentation offers numerous advantages, it's important to be aware of its potential pitfalls, including security concerns, increased managerial effort, communication challenges, and legal complexities. By understanding and addressing these risks, businesses can design effective strategies to unlock the full potential of staff augmentation.

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