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IT Staff Augmentation: Working Principles Guide, Types, and More

Updated 01 Dec 2021

Published 08 Dec 2020

12 Min

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Recruiting in-house IT experts typically takes a lot of time, especially if you need middle/senior-level developers or rare specialists like Scala devs or Big Data engineers. But such an approach may not work if your project requires a teamplayer as soon as possible.

In this case, it would be a smart move to use a hiring model called staff augmentation. It is focused on in-house team expansion to help you hire specialists for your project quickly.

This article will cover what is resource and staff augmentation, benefits to obtain, and when it's appropriate to use such an approach.

How Does Staff Augmentation Work?

IT staff augmentation is quite popular these days. The worldwide software market revenue is expected to reach $968.25 billion by the end of 2021, according to the Businesswire report. Statista shows data as illustrated below, predicting strong revenue growth for the next few years.

software market value worldwide

Global software market revenue (Source: Statista)

Such a rate would be impossible without a large number of software specialists. This way, the global developers’ number is going to grow to 28.7 million people. Resource augmentation is one of the approaches that helps to distribute an IT workforce between businesses.

Let’s talk more about staff augmentation meaning. It’s a cooperation model where a company expands its in-house staff by temporarily hiring one or several outsourcing IT specialists. Augmented specialists become a part of an in-house team and cooperate with the company's employees for a short time commonly.

A staff augmentation example for your better understanding: you have an internal CRM system you wish to update. However, your existing team does not have the necessary specialists or experience to reengineer such a product. That’s why you apply to an outsourcing software development vendor instead of going through the traditional recruiting process such as searching, interviewing, and onboarding.

The vendor cares about your team augmentation, meaning selecting competent engineers who previously worked on similar projects and sending their CVs to you. You (or your company's C-level executives) can interview the chosen experts and sign a contract if hiring them.

staff aug definition

Staff augmentation: definition and illustration of how it works

The resource and staff augmentation approach works best for short-term projects that take less than two years to finish. Let's imagine you need to currently change an engineer who is on long leave. A similar issue: there is a high demand for Flutter developers, and there aren't any candidates available locally.

What is resource augmentation aim here? It may help you find programmers (or other IT specialists) for a certain time and fill in the talent gap in your team.

In case you need engineers on longer projects, it may be better to choose a dedicated team or even project-based development. You can still start with an augmented team, then switch to another model. Most workforce augmentation providers are ready to negotiate such agreements.

We’ve compared three popular outsourcing models — augmented team, dedicated team, and project-based approach, and explained how to choose between them.

Before proceeding, you should define staff augmentation types to fulfill your business needs in the most proper way. Simply put, they are divided into two. The short-term type is used for small projects, if the in-house team is currently unavailable or there’s a high demand for devs. The long-term one is used to fill a skill gap, reduce the time needed for in-house staff employment or cut costs; suitable for prolonged projects.

Staff aug model can be further split into three other categories:

  • Commodity: your project requires trustworthy specialists without a particular skill set for such jobs as manufacturing or warehouse work, physical labor, and so on.
  • Skill-based: you need a reliable team to complete tasks requiring particular skills (like spreadsheet use, typing, etc.)
  • Highly skilled: More advanced skills required can only be obtained via extensive training and experience, both of which are essential.

When to Use Staff Augmentation Services

What does staff augmentation mean for different business domains? It is a solution for the issue of acute personnel shortage (especially in the IT sphere). CompTIA’s Workforce and Learning Trends Report states that 40% of businesses employed their personnel during a pandemic, and 66% are planning to do that.

Staff Augmentation Will Fit If You:

Have an in-house team

Employee augmentation means you extend an already existing in-house team in order to obtain more people capable of performing your workflow tasks or filling the expertise gap finding experts with specific tech stack (for example, MEAN or LAMP) competent in specific IT fields (automated QA, back-end development, blockchain, IoT, data science, etc.)

Need to expand the team fast

If you need a local person with expertise in IoT, Dart, deep knowledge of healthcare software development, or something similar, be ready to search for a while. The staff augmentation model will help you save time for finding a professional — you just need to contact the vendor, look through the developers' CVs, and interview them.

Have a tech-savvy manager on your side

Working with a resource augmentation model means doing management on your side. You stay fully in charge of product development and team management, which means you have to be both a good manager and a tech-savvy one. However, in most cases, augmented staff reports to the company's CTO or PM with enough experience and domain knowledge.

Need people with high-level skills

Software engineers have skills that take time, training, and experience to hone. The skill level is also important: manpower augmentation projects rarely include junior developers as there's no time to train them. It's easier and faster to adapt an experienced engineer to the project and working environment.

Need better communication with the team

The augmented team will perfectly suit your requirements in case you want to totally control your project, knowing every team player that would daily report to you. They’ll also be a part of the in-house team subordinated to you.

Staff Augmentation vs Outsourcing

Outsourcing essentially simplifies the hiring task offering companies the most common relationship models for such a situation: project-based outsourcing and staff augmentation.

The most common distinctions of staff augmentation and project-based outsourcing models are given in the table below to help you figure out what is staff augmentation project and what parameters it’ll have.

Staff aug services & project-based outsourcing: what’s the best?

ParametersIT augmentation servicesProject-based outsourcing

Specialists to provide

Software engineers

Engineers, analytics & designers, project managers, Quality Assurance specialists, etc.

Control over the team

Performed by client

Performed by software development vendor

Flexibility

Flexible for changing requirements & needs

Also flexible according to client’s business goals

Efficiency

Cost-effective for small & short-term projects

More efficient for traditional businesses, major projects, etc.

Scalability

Lack of scale effect

Scalable

Focused on

Resources

Results

Cleveroad presents companies with both staff augmentation services and outsourcing teams to hire. In most situations, recruiting outsource specialists is reasonable because:

  • It lets to adapt the project to dynamic plan changes
  • There are no expenses for hiring, administration, or training processes
  • Specialists with solid experience in outsourcing IT development can assist you
  • The outsourcing cooperation model is easily adaptable to your business needs

However, there are cases when resource augmentation services are more fitting and necessary. Let’s talk about them.

Staff Augmentation Benefits

The advantages of resource staff augmentation range from the obvious ones, such as no hardware or software development costs, no office rent or taxes, to faster and much more cost-effective hiring. Let's look through other pros.

Resource Saving

You’ve got no need to apply to recruiting agencies or take up your internal recruiters’ time (as well as team leads’ one to check test tasks and interview candidates).

The staff augmentation definition dependent on your business needs might help you save hiring resources. However, to obtain manpower for your project, you should be oriented to the vendor’s time. The period to hire augmented employees is determined only by the experience area of the staff augmentation firm: at Cleveroad, for instance, clients typically receive the appropriate candidates in 1-3 days.

Flexibility

With team augmentation, you may hire as many IT experts as you need, and the augmented team is simple to scale up and down. You may start with two iOS developers, two QA engineers, and a UI/UX designer but only work with iOS or Android developers afterward.

The resource augmentation definition is also customizable in terms of budgeting: you can agree to a payment plan (weekly or monthly), hourly rates, and other points (such as sick days or vacations) with the augmented vendor.

Direct Communication

If you outsource web development or software development, the vendor will take care of every detail. However, in case of a staff-augmentation choice, you can personally assign tasks, plan sprints, and fully control the process via corporate project management tools — Jira, Confluence, Trello, and others. Developers will report directly to you, being always in touch.

High Productivity

The high productivity is a distinctive feature of staff aug, meaning the team is totally focused on your project, dedicating their time and effort to it. So, their efficiency level would be higher than in an outsourcing team that can manage several projects simultaneously. This is another reason why IT staff augmentation services are beneficial to use.

Growth and adaptability

Flexible hiring allows companies to expand their operations on a trial basis without committing to a full-time workforce and risking failure or investment loss. Team augmentation services provide growing businesses more alternatives by allowing them to hire on a project basis to evaluate their market acceptance.

Affordable Prices

If full-time specialists’ employment is outside your plans and budget expenses, you should think about hiring an augmented team. The staff augmentation services cost depends on hourly rates, including office rent, hardware, software, and training expenses. For all that, their price is typically lower than for in-house development services.

hourly rates worldwide

Staff augmentation pricing model according to worldwide hourly rates

Ukraine should be noted as one of the top areas for outsourcing and outstaffing IT development due to its favorable quality-price ratio, thriving technological environment, including a big pool of tech experts, and lack of language barriers.

Staff Augmentation Challenges

The staff augmentation role won’t be appropriately played, if we forget the key challenges that the companies can face.

Language & time barriers

The first and the most common staff augment challenge the clients can face is the language barrier. You can get misunderstandings during the development workflow because of the inconsistent level of English. However, you can avoid this problem by checking the vendor’s English level yourself, consulting with a company representative, or speaking to each staff member.

Another issue to solve is the time zone problem. It may also be controlled by establishing a suitable meeting schedule that allows you to set up communication properly. This way, the resource and staff augmentation meaning will be more valuable.

Quality control

A poor developer's work results may cause project delays, expense overruns, and severe security risks for the end-user. Managers that prioritize cost reductions over other criteria are prone to this problem, but there are simple methods to avoid it. Companies may verify whether their engineering team is well trained and capable of completing their allocated work by studying and collecting feedback from these companies' previous clients. It should be done to match the best staff augmentation requirements.

Security issues

Security is a key concern since the staff augmentation business model entails engaging a third party and integrating them in internal operations. Clients' and projects' security and privacy are vital and must not be endangered.

Staff augmentation companies must undertake frequent security audits to address the problem of security threats and hazards, and they must follow all protocols for obtaining NDAs signed after employing the augmented staff to guarantee total security.

Technical expertise

When you discover that the augmented team performance is worse than what you bargained for, the hurry with which you recruit new specialists may prove to be your undoing. Only a meticulous selection method will help you: examine the candidate’s portfolio, paying close attention to the experience in the domain you're interested in, etc.

staff aug challenges

Staffing augmentation challenges

You should also keep in mind that vendors don’t assign a project manager, control the development, or bear responsibility for the staff augmentation solutions development. You need a tech lead or a CTO with enough experience and domain knowledge to manage the team.

How Staff Augmentation Works at Cleveroad

Cleveroad is an East European outsourcing company that provides software development services for 10+ years, including (but not limited to) full-cycle mobile app development and web development services. For a decade, staff augmentation requests are often sent to us, so having gathered a solid experience in this sphere, we want to tell more about how the staff augmentation process works in our company:

  • Initial contact — starting technical staff augmentation process, our clients contact us to expand their in-house staff. The managers obtain and analyze requests. Then, they schedule another call with the customer to discuss the details (such as required devs qualification or what is a staff augmentation contract, etc.)
  • Choosing devs — when the requirements are precise, we choose the suitable specialists with the appropriate skill set. Their CVs are sent to the client to consider.
  • Interview — after the customer approves the CVs, the selected specialists have to pass the tech interview to check their skills. Sometimes interviews are divided into two stages - with the CTO and then with the CEO or product owners.
  • Signing a contract — If things go well, we sign a contract and involve the selected developers in the project.
staff aug in Cleveroad

What is meant by staff augmentation process in Cleveroad

The specialists we provide have good communication skills and an Upper-Intermediate to Advanced English level. They're usually middle or senior-level engineers or team leads if there's a need to oversee the team's work.

One of the recent staff augmentation projects we’ve worked on is Blockbuster, a Danish video-on-demand service. The clients required a few Android and iOS developers to help their in-house team make an iOS app and reengineer Android and Android TV apps.

Our staff augmentation services meaning was the following: we provided iOS and Android engineers who became a part of our clients’ team and worked until the project’s release. Our developers got a list of tasks they had to complete and reported to Blockbuster’s managers.

Henrik Loop, CTO at Blockbuster, gives feedback about our cooperation

Need to augment your team?

On average, our clients get the right candidates in 1-3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Staff augmentation is a cooperation model where a company expands its in-house staff by temporarily hiring one or several outsourcing IT specialists. Augmented specialists become a part of an in-house team and cooperate with the company's employees for a short time as usual.

  • Initial contact — starting technical staff augmentation process, the clients contact the vendor to expand their in-house staff. The vendor's managers obtain and analyze requests. Then, they schedule another call with the customer to discuss the details (such as required devs qualification or what is a staff augmentation contract, etc.)

  • Choosing devs — when the requirements are precise, software solution provider's managers choose the suitable specialists with the appropriate skill set. Their CVs are sent to the client to consider.

  • Interview — after the customer approves the CVs, the selected specialists have to pass the tech interview to check their skills. Sometimes interviews are divided into two stages — with the CTO and then with the CEO or product owners.

  • Signing a contract — If things go well, we sign a contract and involve the selected developers in the project.

First of all, you already have an in-house team and temporarily need to expand it with people, expertise, or both. Here's when the definition of staff augmentation will be properly implemented:

  • Have an in-house team
  • Need to expand the team fast
  • Have a tech-savvy manager on your side
  • Need people with high-level skills
  • Need better communication with the team
  • Resource saving
  • Flexibility
  • Direct communication
  • High productivity
  • Growth and adaptability
  • Affordable prices
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