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How to succeed with staff augmentation

May 5, 2022 / 9 min read

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Are you currently working on an IT project that requires more time and workforce than you initially thought? Perhaps staff augmentation (or team augmentation) is your best bet! In this article, we’re going to talk about this outsourcing-related IT model. You will discover what it’s all about, and what to do to succeed with it.

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When it comes to HR, you have two major options. You can hire more employees or decide to outsource a specific part of your job, e.g., IT management or marketing. Staff augmentation lies somewhere between these two models.

Possible options to scale a team

At some point, your in-house team will no longer be sufficient, especially when your company is growing rapidly. With projects (and deadlines) piling up, you need to find a solution that will enable you to deal with all these challenges without compromising the quality of your work. In such a situation, you can benefit from two typical HR models. Here they are:

1. Hire new staff – typical employment

Many companies don’t give too much thought to the hiring issue, and they just opt for traditional employment. However, you need to be aware that there are some challenges along the way:

  • Such a model can be both time-consuming and expensive. Finding a qualified expert is not always easy. The IT world struggles with workforce shortages, in particular concerning mid- and senior-level specialists and engineers. In many countries, the reality is that there are thousands of unfilled IT positions. So, it can take some time to find a desired specialist.
  • The recruitment process, especially running multiple interviews in a short period, can distract your team. Instead of focusing on the new project, they get involved in finding a worthy candidate.
  • If you're looking for temporary support (for example, during a specific project), hiring a new employee is simply inefficient cost-wise.

2. Outsourcing – get people and deal with processes using an external provider

In many cases, outsourcing is effective, flexible and profitable for both parties. Of course, here, you have to be aware of some challenges, too. First off, finding and establishing fruitful cooperation with an external company can take some time. After all, the agency has their own office, and their employees work for many clients simultaneously. This means that you have to add some time just for the onboarding process.

Thankfully, there is a third way that allows you to overcome all these obstacles. It’s called staff augmentation.

What is staff augmentation, and how does it work?

It’s an HR model in which a client asks an external business partner (a digital agency or a software house) to provide them with an additional workforce, usually software engineers. In this model, you typically pay for the time of those “outsourced” specialists who, for the sake of the project, work just like your other employees.

What’s the difference between team augmentation and typical outsourcing? In outsourcing, your partner (an agency or a freelancer) is responsible for a particular area of your business. This means they are responsible for the whole process that’s involved and take responsibility for the outcome. Additionally, they don’t charge you per hour (usually), but for the job done (or achieved results). They work from their office or home, and they frequently operate in the per-project model. In staff augmentation, on the other hand, the outsourced specialist comes to your office and works with your IT/marketing team on your current project. He or she becomes a part of the company that “hired” them and its processes. Therefore, the project's responsibility and its outcome are still on your shoulders. So, you can think of it as a quick and effective way to get an additional team member for a designated period.

Pros and cons of staff augmentation

There are several staff augmentation benefits that are worth mentioning. For starters, this solution is very flexible. You “hire” this additional team member for a specific period and can easily terminate the cooperation once the project is finished. Moreover, because it’s all based on a B2B contract, more cost-effective than hiring a full-time employee. You don’t have to hire anyone because the outsourced specialist is already an employee of the company that provided him or her. This also means that you don’t have to worry about things like payroll, taxes, sick leaves and vacation – it’s all on the shoulders of that other company.

What’s more, staff augmentation is a service that’s usually offered by experienced IT/marketing companies. This means that you get a seasoned expert who will be able to support your project not just with their work but also with their knowledge.

Lastly, this service is easily scalable. You can hire one or ten engineers based on your current requirements. There are no long-term obligations, so you can adjust the number and specialisations of hired people as you please.

And what about the cons? There is a risk that you will get an expert who will have a hard time fitting into your team; that’s the biggest risk. Of course, such a possibility is probable also with typical employment. To mitigate that risk, many professional staff augmentation companies are willing to replace a specific outsourced specialist with another one to find the perfect match. Secondly, you have to consider the fact that they will need some time to get acquainted with your team, workflow and the project.

Staff augmentation vs. consulting vs. managed IT services

All these three models might seem similar. To clarify the differences between staff augmentation, consulting, and managed IT services, take a look at the table that we’ve made:

Staff augmentationManaged IT servicesIT consulting
Who should use it?A company that runs its projects in-house but needs occasional helpA company looking for comprehensive support in the IT areaA company looking for new technologies and solutions that can improve its operations
Specificity of the modelA mix of employment and outsourcingOutsourcingOutsourcing/consulting
SettlementPer man-day, based on availability and the expertise of the expertAgreed lump sum/per-project pricePer-hour/per-consultation
The scope of serviceThe outsourced specialist works along with your employees on a specific projectThe company is responsible for delivering an expected outcomeThe company offers only knowledge on what can be done and how. They don’t implement the proposed solutions
RiskOn the client sideOn the provider sideOn the client side

As you can see, each of these services is a bit different, and they are not interchangeable. Before you make a final decision, find the answers to several valid questions:

  • What kind of help do we need?
  • Where are we right now, i.e., how far are we in the project execution?
  • Where do we want to be? What do we want to achieve?
  • Do we know how to finish the entire project?

Once you clarify these four questions, you will be able to find and select a form of the IT service that suits your current needs best. This way, you can achieve your goals more effectively and pursue new project with confidence.

Types of staff augmentation services

In general, the team augmentation service was designed to be flexible. Therefore, there is no one-fits-all solution that you can copy-paste to your company. The first step is to find a trusted IT partner and talk to them about your needs and requirements. An advanced IT provider will help you plan, design and implement the model that fits your needs and resources.

In their most basic form, team augmentation services are based on outsourcing software engineers. But in most cases, you can decide to hire different specialists, depending on the offer of a specific company. It all depends on four crucial elements:

  • What set of skills is necessary to complete your IT project?
  • How many people do you need?
  • Is it a short-term or a long-term commitment?
  • What is your budget?

Talk about these four facets with a selected company, and together, you will be able to design a perfect solution. And since we’ve told you that finding a reliable partner is a prerequisite of every successful staff augmentation project, let’s talk a bit more about that.

Checklist for building a successful augmented team

  1. Define your needs: For starters, you need to build a common understanding of your needs and goals. To achieve that goal, look for a company that can provide you with a tailor-made solution.
  2. Match your organisation's culture and values: Pay attention to the external company's style of work, their ability to process feedback, their willingness to learn and even their proactivity in cooperation. For example, you can find out if your interim team members have ever worked in a setup similar to yours.
  3. Review team members' portfolios and client testimonials: Don't hesitate to ask for client testimonials and the team members' portfolios. You can even talk to previous clients and ask them if they were satisfied with the service. What worked well and what didn't? With that kind of feedback, you can make an informed decision.
  4. Be clear about your productivity goals and success criteria: For example, ask your partner how they measure and ensure quality on a daily basis. If you have a ready-made list of such requirements or measurements that work in your company, it's a good idea to share it with your partner. This way, you build understanding from square one.
  5. Make sure the setup is flexible in case your needs change: This point is critical, especially when you're looking for long-term cooperation. Your needs can change over time. Ensure that your cooperation setup is flexible enough to apply necessary changes in the future.
  6. Run your own interviews and focus on people rather than vendors: At the end of the day, you work with people, not a company. Set at least one short meeting with every team member to see if there is a potential for good cooperation.
  7. Prepare onboarding and work procedures: Put some effort into explaining the project and showing the way your company works. This way, your new team members will know what they are expected to do and can be more engaged in your project from day one. Treat outsourced specialists like equal partners who are here to help you achieve your goals.

How to find the perfect IT partner

Before you start looking for an IT partner, define your current situation and needs. Every decent IT company will surely ask you about these things. Having them listed and organised will save both sides a lot of time.

Secondly, try to find out how that particular company chooses their team members. It’s also vital to know whether they have worked in a similar setup in the past. To discover more about the company you’re interested in, verify their LinkedIn profile, their blog, testimonials and portfolio. If possible, try to consult their previous clients – it’s always a vital source of information.

The next step is to set productivity goals and success criteria. After all, you pay a lot of money for that external specialist; you have every right to expect they will do a decent job. To ensure that your new team member will be quickly ready to work, prepare onboarding materials and work procedures so that they know how you work and what they will be responsible for.

Lastly, make sure your agreement takes different situations into account. Find out what happens when your needs change rapidly. How quickly can you terminate or change the contract? What are your obligations? All of that should be included in the agreement.

You now know what team augmentation is all about. All we can do now is encourage you to test this model in your company. We’ve been working like that for years and with great success. Do you want to know more?

Try NoA Ignite’s staff augmentation services

If you think staff augmentation would work for you, we encourage you to test our team. At NoA Ignite, we are used to working with clients off and on-site and have plenty of experience with staff augmentation services. Our team consists of highly skilled, versatile specialists who will gladly support you with everything related to digital services and products. We are particularly experienced with DXP platforms, large scale web applications and e-commerce.

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Greg Kalucki, Chief Commercial Officer at NoA Ignite

Greg Kałucki

Chief Commercial Officer

Greg is a Client Director and Advisor with 15+ years experience in digital platforms and services. He has supported variety of mid-large global organisations in business growth through digitalization.

+44 796 092 1776

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