How Staff Augmentation Can Drive Results in the WFH Era
With more businesses than ever having to adapt their working processes to allow staff to work from home, this has led many companies to wonder how they can continue to hire and scale their business without having in-house staff.
Staff augmentation has been a growing trend in the IT sphere for years now, but it’s only recently that the practice has truly taken off. Combining the benefits of outsourcing with in-house hiring, staff augmentation is set to help the technology industry thrive in the work from home era.
What is Staff Augmentation?
Staff augmentation, also known as team augmentation or as we prefer: Teams On-Demand, is the practice of hiring outsourced professionals to bolster an in-house team. It’s typically used to fill talent shortages on a temporary basis or build an extended team for a new project. However, some organizations use staff augmentation to outsource certain elements of their technology teams on a permanent basis.
Unlike other methods of outsourcing, staff augmentation means that outsourced staff work for a single organization at any one time.
Staff Augmentation Types
Staff augmentation can typically be described by two main types of hiring periods.
An organization hires outsourced staff to cover existing staff absence, such as maternity leave, sick leave, vacation, or sabbatical leave. Outsourced staff may also be hired during peak development or testing periods to assist in-house teams.
An organization outsources staff to cover a team’s skills gap for a long period of time, or permanently. They may also hire outsourced staff in the long term if there’s a long-running project that needs additional support, particularly if the in-house hiring procedure takes too long or there’s a shortage of skilled professionals applying to work at the company.
Breaking it down even further, staff augmentation can also be described by three key hiring needs.
Outsourced staff are hired to perform a certain job or task, but the quantity of staff matters more than their specific skill set.
Example: Data entry, helpdesk filtering
Outsourced staff are hired on the basis of having certain skills, but the level of these skills is not necessarily important.
Example: Preliminary QA testing, Customer service
Highly Skilled Support
Outsourced staff are hired because they have advanced skills that the hiring organization requires, either to fill a skills gap or to build an outsourced team for a project.
Example: UI development, Developers, QA engineers, Dev Ops, Senior Developer Project Managers
Staff Augmentation Sources
Outsourced staff can be hired from a variety of different sources depending on the hiring organization’s needs and budget.
Contractors or self employed professionals are a good option for organizations looking to hire a small number of outsourced staff. While these professionals often have a higher per-hour cost than in-house staff, organizations have more flexibility because these professionals often aren’t governed by an agency’s policies.
Small Specialist Agencies
When an organization needs a small team of specialized staff, then these agencies provide an already coherent and collaborative team for hire. These agencies may not be as flexible as freelancers, but they can often cost less per outsourced hire than self employed professionals. Plus, as organizations will pay the agency directly for their services, the organization doesn’t need to worry about paying freelancer invoices.
Staff Augmentation Agencies
Staff or team augmentation agencies are typically larger companies with a wide range of in-house staff and available skill sets. As a result, organizations looking to hire a larger outsourced team may find that these agencies have more flexibility in how many staff members they can outsource, as well as the available skillset of that team.
Benefits of Staff Augmentation
Staff augmentation can be highly beneficial for almost any organization that needs to expand their talent pool without having the budget to hire and train in-house staff.
Whether organizations hire a contractor or a staff augmentation agency, they don’t need to worry about paying for hardware, software, office space, or other facilities for those workers. Even though contractors typically cost more than in-house staff, over time, remote contractors may work out to be more cost-effective depending on the project. Plus, with agencies, organizations only have to pay a single fee, and the agency takes care of paying their staff.
With hires outsourced through staff augmentation, organizations can be sure that their IP rights remain solely with them. It’s also easy for organizations to arrange non-disclosure agreements with outsourced staff, giving them peace of mind that proprietary information is kept confidential.
A Wider Talent Pool
With staff augmentation, organizations can hire new employees outside of their local area, giving them access to more skilled professionals. Not only that, but as these organizations won’t have to pay to relocate talented individuals, even smaller companies can hire talented outsourced staff from other cities or countries.
For organizations who only need to outsource staff in the short term, staff augmentation offers a flexible solution. Not only can organizations remove in-house hiring costs by outsourcing, but they can also avoid the hassle of having to draw up short-term contracts. This means that organizations can have as many developers or technical staff as they need at any given time without having to worry about downsizing in-house teams between projects.
The in-house hiring process can easily take months, particularly where highly skilled professionals are involved. Plus, it can take even longer if that hire needs to relocate. With staff augmentation, organizations can get an outsourced team put together and ready to work within a matter of weeks.
How Staff Augmentation Compares to Other Staffing Models
While staff augmentation is typically a short-term or temporary solution, managed services consist of an outsourced hire, or team, that is responsible for a full process or service in the long term. While this reduces how much control the hiring organization has over that process, it’s also more cost effective than hiring an in-house team to handle that process or service.
It’s also more difficult to find agencies or contractors that will fully managed highly technical processes, which is where software project outsourcing and staff augmentation are more beneficial.
Software Project Outsourcing
This outsourcing approach works best with organizations that need to outsource an entire project, rather than bring in additional staff to an existing project. With software project outsourcing, the contracted professional or agency handles every aspect of the project, giving organizations less flexibility than with staff augmentation.
In addition, outsourcing in this way can have additional costs. However, these agencies often have a wide talent pool and specialise in certain areas, making them a good fit for organizations who are willing to fully outsource projects.
Determining if Staff Augmentation is the Right Choice
Organizations will typically benefit from staff augmentation if they’re looking for a short-term or temporary solution to skills gaps or a lack of staffing power. Regardless of if this is at the start of a new project or due to issues faced during that project, staff augmentation offers the flexibility and cost-effectiveness organizations will typically need here.
Plus, staff augmentation is great for organizations that need to scale a project or service with additional skilled staff members, but the in-house hiring process either takes too long or doesn’t have an available talent pool. In these cases, staff augmentation offers a stop-gap solution until organizations can either hire in-house again or find a permanent remote solution.
Staff augmentation also allows businesses to continue to scale their production during a time where hiring in-house may be impossible due to reduced budgets and the need to work remotely. This puts organizations in a better position for when they can return to their usual operations, which may mean they’re more competitive in a post-pandemic economy.
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