In 2022, many scaling tech companies find themselves at a crossroads. Steady growth requires an influx of new and increasingly robust projects, but it can be hard to keep up with demands at current staffing levels. And recruiting then retaining staff present their own unique challenges.
Enter staff augmentation: an efficient, flexible solution to nearly all staffing pain points.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about staff augmentation:
What does staff augmentation mean? It’s a strategy for filling personnel or skill gaps on a temporary or as-needed basis. It integrates outside workers as contractors or temporary employees for a defined period of time, typically revolving around a specific project need.
The workers may be sourced from existing networks, but they are most often recruited through consultant firms.
A typical use case for staff augmentation is when a company identifies a pressing, short-term need for highly skilled work for a special project. There may not be sufficient time to recruit, train, and onboard new staff, and outsourcing the project relinquishes your control over it.
With staff augmentation, the personnel acquired function alongside internal employees as a part of the team. Your business retains control over project direction and workflow.
This approach to staffing is most common in the IT and tech fields, where the prevalence of remote work facilitates staff augmentation across state and international borders. In many cases, “staff augmentation” is synonymous and interchangeable with “IT staff augmentation.”
According to a 2019 study, the tech field has faced major staffing issues since at least 2016:
IT staff augmentation has become critical to surviving and thriving in this environment.
For many companies, these difficulties were only exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For others, however, the “new normal” of remote and flexible staffing opened up new opportunities. Realizing them has been due, in large part, to effective staff augmentation.
Staff augmentation is exactly what it sounds like—an enhancement of your existing staff. Rather than building on the core, permanent members, it pulls outside workers partially into the fold.
In many cases, this augmentation is needed to handle an indirect or secondary responsibility that your core team is struggling to manage on its own. For example, a project may grow in scale without much warning, leading to a preponderance of relatively rote or maintenance-style to-dos and workflows.
Does it make sense to have core staff devote their energies to these low-stakes endeavors? Or would it be better to focus your team’s best skills on the most important developments? For tech companies eyeing sustainable growth, the latter is almost always the better option.
Staff augmentation is often used to approximate automation, freeing up your own best and brightest minds to focus on projects and parts of projects that produce the most value for you.
It’s best to think of staff augmentation as a process functioning alongside other management and resource allocation systems. It works as an extension of closely related suites, such as recruiting staff and outsourcing goods or services. It’s less a replacement than a plugin.
Staff augmentation works by positioning the best-suited external talent in ad-hoc internal roles or those from which they interface with your internal team and resources. How you source, vet, manage, and leverage that talent will depend heavily on:
However, there are some general pillars to the process that shine through, whether you use dedicated staff augmentation companies, staffing firms, networks, or other talent sources.
This is the general process to follow for successful staff augmentation, irrespective of context:
There are other wrinkles and complications your company should consider along the way, such as when or how you plan to terminate your engagement with augmented staff. A more fully fleshed-out strategy prior to augmentation leads to simpler decisions during and afterward.
For companies seeking solutions to their staffing pain points, one puzzling area may be working through what is considered staff augmentation and what falls into other categories. Making the best choice depends on understanding key similarities and differences between your options.
Some of the most common solutions that run parallel to (or together with) augmentation are:
To get the most out of all these services, individually or alongside a staff augmentation project, we highly recommend a comprehensive consultation. External experts will bring fresh eyes to your staffing woes, making clear, unbiased observations about what combination suits you best.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of solving staffing pain points with augmentation will depend on your current team’s relative strengths and weaknesses, given your company’s position. And beyond factors that are specific to your team, the biggest over-arching cons of staff augmentation for you to consider are that:
These potential weaknesses, however, are most often outweighed by the biggest pros:
Above all, the best way to ensure your decision is sound—whether it’s staff augmentation or some other solution—is to inform it with relevant data and progressive analysis thereof.
ScaleTech Consulting offers scalable, tailored staff augmentation services leveraging an expert network both within and adjacent to the IT industry. We value sustainable growth from the top-down, identifying ideal solutions to your problems rather than the lowest common denominators. Above all, we strive to find the best fit for your organization’s culture.
We also offer Fractional CTO and Recruitment suites, and our experts can work alongside your team to identify the best combination of tools and solutions to meet your specific needs.
That all begins with a Technology Consultation.
AirMason. How Long Does Onboarding Take? https://blog.airmason.com/how-long-does-onboarding-take/
Forrester. Forecasting In Uncertainty: Despite The Pandemic, US Tech Jobs Grew In 2020, Led By Data And Security Positions. https://www.forrester.com/blogs/forecasting-in-uncertainty-despite-the-pandemic-us-tech-jobs-grew-in-2020-led-by-data-and-security-positions/
Fulcrum. Explore Foreign Development Markets - What is Staff Augmentation? https://fulcrum.rocks/blog/staff-augmentation/#what-is-staff-augmentation
iCIMS. Hiring tech talent for CIOs and CTOs. https://cdn31.icims.com/icims3/prod/pdf/misc/2019-Benchmark-on-Hiring-Tech-Talent.pdf
Tunga. IT Staff Augmentation 2021 report: a comprehensive overview. https://tunga.io/it-staff-augmentation-report/
UHY. Employers now pay average employment costs worth nearly 25% of employees’ salaries. https://www.uhy.com/employers-now-pay-average-employment-costs-worth-nearly-25-of-employees-salaries/
Vaultes. What is IT Staff Augmentation? https://www.vaultes.com/what-is-it-staff-augmentation/