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What is staff augmentation — a comprehensive overview

What is staff augmentation — a comprehensive overview

What is staff augmentation — a comprehensive overview

Every day, businesses in various niches face challenges that are changing at an incredible rate in an era of fast intake and constant technological advancement. At the same time, it is necessary to remain market leaders to compete for market share among other companies. Being competitive means, first and foremost, being flexible in scaling your business and not being afraid to work with a new technology stack. The stumbling block, among many others, is the time required to improve business processes and the cost of implementation. The answer is obvious — expanding your team of employees with the expertise and experience you need. However, to avoid the lengthy and expensive hiring process that accompanies the hiring of a regular full-time employee, we recommend using the staff augmentation approach. Staff augmentation is primarily about quickly scaling up your team by hiring temporary employees. These employees with the skills your project requires will be able to join your existing teams for a clearly defined period without further long-term commitments. However, we will not reveal all the cards about the benefits and essence of staff augmentation at once, so we suggest you join us to find out what staff augmentation is when you should use this approach, what distinguishes resource and staff augmentation from many other hiring methods, and much more.

What is staff augmentation?

Staff augmentation involves hiring temporary employees based on specific criteria for a limited period. Firstly, the company hires temporary workers to perform specific tasks for a project and augment an existing team, providing valuable skills and experience to achieve primary goals. Second, this staffing practice allows you to hire employees for both short-term and long-term projects. In this case, the company avoids the time-consuming and complex hiring processes required for regular full-time employees. Lastly, team augmentation services allow the company to expand its staff.

To better understand, consider the following example: your business provides software services and is starting to work on a new project. Despite its efficiency and experience with various technologies, the existing development team may need more expertise to use a new technology stack. Strict deadlines for project completion and an insufficient number of employees to achieve them may become another obstacle. The company can apply resource and staff augmentation practices in any of the above cases. By hiring temporary workers, businesses can avoid the time-consuming recruitment process. These employees can quickly integrate into the primary development team to ensure timely completion of tasks. After completing the project, the company can scale down the temporary workforce and launch the product without losing the expected revenue. This flexibility and process optimization allow organizations to remain market leaders by quickly adapting to client needs and changing for various project trends.

Staff augmentation

Resource and staff augmentation models

Different goals require different ways to achieve them, and the choice between staff augmentation models is no exception. Consider one of the three most popular models, each meeting various business needs. Whether swiftly expanding the workforce, acquiring specialized skills, or addressing complex tasks, choosing the suitable model ensures optimal results and organizational growth.

Commodity staff augmentation

This team augmentation services model revolves around swiftly bolstering a business's workforce. It involves recruiting individuals who might not possess highly specialized skills but are proficient in handling essential tasks required by the organization. Commodity-based augmentation is helpful during staff shortages or when filling positions that don't require exceptional expertise.

Skill-based staff augmentation

Skill-based augmentation entails hiring workers with specialized skills and expertise. What sets these employees apart from the average is that they usually have a university degree and the relevant experience required to perform the tasks. Another advantage may be the unique skills of the hired workers, which will fill in the gaps and be an essential addition to the team.

Highly skilled staff augmentation

In this model, companies hire employees with expertise in niche industries and a specific technology stack unique to their business. Such employees have a high level of experience and responsibility in solving complex issues. They can also achieve the desired result faster than other employees.

Types of staff augmentation models by duration

In addition to the three models mentioned earlier, team augmentation services can be divided into various models depending on the duration of an employee's contract.

Short-term staff augmentation

Short-term services entail hiring resources for unspecified durations, typically billed by the hour. Generally, these refer to independent contractors readily available on freelance marketplaces. The benefits are flexibility, efficiency, and relatively low cost of their services. Given the apparent advantages, the company may need more experience and skills of such workers.

Long-term staff augmentation

Employees hired for a longer period — a year or more — are better involved and integrated into the internal team that works on the project. In this case, you should devote more time to the recruitment stage. Thus, we recommend using recruiters rather than freelance platforms. The essential advantage of this IT consulting and staff augmentation model is that it will give you a better understanding of your product, which the hired employee will always be working with. 

Key factors when choosing the suitable staff augmentation model

Now that you have familiarized yourself with all the options for staff augmentation models, it's time to determine the best option to meet all your needs. Here are some important criteria to consider when choosing the team augmentation services model:

Proficiency and experience:

This factor is the most important among all the others — and it's not surprising since an employee is expected to complete work tasks on time and with high quality. Pay special attention to the employee's previous experience and hard skills. 

Communication and time management:

Typically, you'll be hiring for internal teams in your company with established communication and time management models. Find out what project management tools and methodologies the vendor has used in the past to ensure smooth collaboration, meet project deadlines, and avoid potential problems.

Corporate values:

To enhance teamwork effectiveness, your company's values and vision must align with the new employee's. This key factor will facilitate a more seamless integration into the team and lead to better results.

Flexibility and ability to adapt to changes:

Whether you need additional resources to expand the project or adjust the scope of work, the employee should be able to adapt to your requirements quickly and efficiently.

Time zone and geographical aspects:

When choosing an extension worker, you need to consider the not-so-obvious aspect of geographic location and the difference in time zones between them and your company. Differences in working time between team members can lead to reduced productivity and become an obstacle to completing tasks on time.

When to use staff augmentation

We have briefly discussed when and why to use the resource and staff augmentation model. Let's delve deeper into when it's worth using this model. Here are some everyday use cases:

Filling gaps in team skills:

When starting a new project, you may encounter a new technology stack that you have yet to experience despite your team's expertise. Then, using the staff augmentation model, you will close this gap without much effort and won't have to abandon the new project.

Project deadlines are on fire:

Occasionally, your team members may work on large projects that require tight deadlines. Involving employees from other projects in your company is not a good idea, as it will make the tasks inefficient and exhausting. In this case, you won't have to hire new full-time employees or involve your employees from other projects when increasing your staff. Instead, the staff augmentation model will complete the tasks on time.

Quickly replace a critical employee:

Sometimes, unexpected circumstances may negatively affect your internal business processes. For example, one of your employees may leave a critical position. In such a case, you need to hire a qualified person quickly to fulfill the tasks assigned while avoiding a lengthy hiring process.

Types of staff augmentation services

Besides resource and staff augmentation models, which differ in duration of cooperation with hired employees and their level of expertise, there are also different areas of IT outstaffing services. Even though other sources offer different variations of the classification, we consider the ones we use at UKAD:

Project-based staff augmentation:

Project-based  IT outstaffing service consists of hiring experts for specific projects. This type of  IT outstaffing service offers a flexible solution, with newly hired employees not being involved in your business processes but only being familiarized with the part of the business they will be working on. This option will help you quickly scale your team, even for short-term solutions.

Staff augmentation

Outstaffing model:

The outstaffing model, or team augmentation, involves hiring an entire team. The new team will be fully integrated into your business with coordinated processes. The most significant advantage is hiring not just one employee but a whole team with the expertise, skills, and experience required for your project and who is ready to start working without delay.

Benefits and drawbacks of each area of IT outstaffing services:

Upon reviewing the spectrum, it is evident that project-based staff augmentation provides a high level of flexibility that is especially suitable for short-term endeavors. Conversely, team augmentation services provide a deeper level of integration, similar to expanding your internal team. While project-based models offer task-specific expertise, team augmentation provides a holistic approach where teams are adept at navigating your business landscape. You can learn more about each type of service supplied by UKAD developers in our article, Nearshore IT Staff Augmentation Services, where you will learn about our approach and the stages of cooperation with us. You will also get all the answers related to IT staff augmentation consulting.

Pros and cons of staff augmentation

Resource and staff augmentation is a practice that can have both benefits and challenges for companies looking to scale their teams effectively. We should understand the pros and cons of increasing staff to understand its consequences for organizations better.

Pros:

  • Flexibility:

The staff augmentation model allows you to quickly scale your team to meet the needs of a project or several required tasks, depending on the workload.

  • Economic benefits:

When using IT consulting and staff augmentation, a company can save money usually spent during the hiring process for full-time employees, especially for short-term projects. These costs include social benefits, training benefits, and other unforeseen expenses. 

  • Access to specialized skills:

Also, as a company, when you expand your staff, you will have the opportunity to have employees with unique skills and experience that your team previously needed to gain.

  • Speed and timing:

Since hiring employees according to the team augmentation services method is much easier than hiring full-time employees, it will not only be cost-effective, but you will not have to go through complicated hiring processes that can sometimes last from several weeks to months. In addition, newly hired employees will quickly start the project, which will affect the completion of tasks within a clearly defined time frame.

  • Low risks:

Regardless of whether the project requirements have changed or ended, you can continue cooperating with the employee without the legal or financial consequences of dismissing full-time employees.

Cons:

  • Problems of integration:

Communication barriers may arise due to cultural and other differences between the internal team and hired staff, leading to process delays and cooperation issues.

  • Dependence on external resources:

Reliance on increased staff can postpone long-term goals, favoring smaller projects. It can also affect team morale if permanent employees feel overshadowed or undervalued.

  • Quality of services received:

Implementing review processes is essential to ensuring high-quality results and preventing the risk of poor outcomes despite an augmentation worker's experience and skills.

  • Limited loyalty: 

Resource and staff augmentation are typically hired for brief projects, so they may only partially embrace the company's values and objectives. This could negatively impact the motivation of newly hired employees, leading to reduced productivity.

Staff augmentation VS other models

Many different models are available for businesses to apply according to their goals. Still, we decided to compare the staff augmentation model with only two other popular models, namely the dedicated team and the outsourcing model, each of which UKAD can directly provide you with.

Staff augmentation vs. dedicated teams 

While similar on the surface, the critical discrepancy lies in the level of vendor involvement. Clients retain direct management over remote developers with staff augmentation, whereas dedicated teams operate under the vendor's supervision. Moreover, dedicated teams typically handle multiple clients concurrently, while IT consulting and staff augmentation offers more flexible engagement options.

Staff augmentation vs. outsourcing model

If we compare the increase in staff with the outsourcing model, the critical difference between these two models is the level of control. As we explained earlier, the IT consulting and staff augmentation model mainly supplements internal teams with external talent on a short-term basis and according to project requirements. At the same time, your company retains complete control over project management. On the other hand, the outsourcing model involves assigning all business functions or processes to third-party vendors, relinquishing direct control. The project's complexity plays a vital role in selecting a project model, and outsourcing is generally preferred for complex projects.

In addition to the differences presented above, you can find more information about the difference between staffing and staff augmentation in our article Augmentation Staffing vs. Traditional Staffing: What's the Difference?

How does staff augmentation work at UKAD?

Staff augmentation

We've covered what staff expansion is, what models of IT consulting and staff augmentation exist, what problems it can solve, and what advantages and disadvantages it has over other models. In turn, you may be wondering where to find an employee who would perfectly fit the goals of your staff augmentation project and what stages of hiring you as a business should go through to choose the perfect candidate. At UKAD, we provide resource and staff augmentation services, so we'll be happy to walk you through the stages of how this model works in our company and why you should hire an employee from our IT outstaffing company, among many other offers:

Primary discussion: understanding your needs

The process starts with a discussion, either online or in person, where UKAD as IT staff augmentation agency takes the time to understand the complexities of your project and its related technologies. This primary discussion serves as the foundation for the entire process. By grasping your project's nuances and requirements, UKAD can craft a proposal that aligns perfectly with your scope.

Selecting your team members

After discussing your project's needs and technical aspects, we go through a careful selection process. At UKAD, the hiring manager and technical lead select candidates whose experience and expertise would be ideal for your project. The selection process for the UKAD staff takes up to two business days.

Onboarding: seamless integration into your workflow

With the team in place, the focus shifts to seamless onboarding. Our team has integrated communication, tracking, and monitoring tools to simplify the transition for you and the engineering team. Our personal touch sets our IT staff augmentation agency apart — an executive leads every new outstaffing team, ensuring smooth and effective collaboration.

Ongoing support: nurturing long-term partnerships

Beyond recruitment and onboarding, UKAD is committed to nurturing long-term partnerships. We take care of everything from motivation and satisfaction to contractual obligations. Team members remain accessible through channels like Slack, ensuring seamless communication. Moreover, our top brass, including the CEO and CTO, personally engage with customers, fostering a culture of transparency and feedback.

Let's briefly define the key advantages of working with UKAD: First, there is a thorough selection process for employees who will join your team. Also, one of our priorities is to maintain European trust and transparency standards in our cooperation with our clients. Another proof of our expertise is our long-term experience. For about 18 years, UKAD has been providing software services, considering various models and approaches in Scandinavia, the UK, and the USA markets.

Conclusion

The software services industry and other sectors are constantly evolving and changing. Sometimes, it takes time for companies to adapt to changes to keep up with new technological challenges, quickly execute projects, and start new ones. The reason for this can be either a high-cost and complicated hiring process or gaps in the experience or knowledge of the company's existing teams. After defining your primary business goals and considering the pros and cons, you can apply the staff augmentation approach. Resource and staff augmentation provides businesses with the following opportunity — a headache pill in the form of dynamic solutions for your company: a temporary increase in your workforce for specific projects.

Frequently asked questions

What is staff augmentation?

Staff augmentation is a model of collaboration and hiring that companies implement to scale business processes rapidly. The main idea is to hire temporary workers to complete the existing team with a specific technological stack and experience, meet certain project deadlines, and more. When you hire a full-time employee, you commit to a long-term relationship. With resource and staff augmentation, temporary employees can be employed without a long-term commitment, distinguishing it from traditional outsourcing.

When is it most appropriate for a business to use staff augmentation?

The most common use cases for the team augmentation services approach include filling in the skills and experience gaps of your company's existing team. Another scenario is when your team needs help with a task or project within a clearly defined timeframe and when you need to replace a critical employee quickly.

What are the different types of resource and staff augmentation models?

There are three types of IT consulting and staff augmentation models. One of the models is a commodity-based staffing expansion, the main idea of which is to quickly increase the company's workforce with individuals who can perform the main tasks required by the organization. The other type, skills-based staffing, involves hiring employees with specialized skills and experience, usually with a university degree and relevant experience. The last model is the highly skilled staff growth — hiring employees with expertise in niche areas and with a specific technology stack who can take responsibility for solving complex and challenging tasks.

What are the key factors when choosing a suitable IT consulting and staff augmentation model?

Once your company has familiarized itself with all the specifics of the staff augmentation approach and realized that it will perfectly meet your needs, we recommend paying attention to several criteria when choosing a temporary employee. The most crucial factor is to investigate the experience and technological stack of the specialist because if the reason is to supplement the existing team, this is the principal value of the employee. Since the newly hired employee will join an existing team, you should pay attention to the employee's soft skills, such as teamwork and adaptation to change, as well as similarities and differences in the corporate values of your company's employees and the newly hired one.

What are the benefits of a staff augmentation approach?

The key benefits of team augmentation services include the flexibility to scale the team, access to unique skills and experience, speed of hiring without a long-term commitment, and the economic benefits of cooperation by achieving the desired result.

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