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A Beginner's Guide to Staff Augmentation

The percentage of businesses struggling to find skilled talent has doubled since 2015 and is now at 77%, according to reports. This talent shortage is dictating new ways of recruiting and hiring specialists, and staff augmentation has emerged as one of the most successful models.

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Staff Augmentation
Staff Augmentation

The percentage of businesses struggling to find skilled talent has doubled since 2015 and is now at 77%, according to reports. This talent shortage is dictating new ways of recruiting and hiring specialists, and staff augmentation has emerged as one of the most successful models. 

This hiring strategy, offering remarkable flexibility, agility, and scalability, empowers companies to access highly specialized talent and scale their workforce as needed while executing projects efficiently. 

If you haven’t already had a chance to employ this model but you’re curious if it’d be a good fit for your business - you’re in the right place! In this article, we set out to explain the ABCs of staff augmentation and the value it can provide to businesses, particularly in the IT industry.

What Is Staff Augmentation? 

Staff augmentation is a hiring model in which employees, usually highly skilled specialists, are hired on a temporary basis to supplement in-house teams. An important feature of this model is that the hiring is not done directly but through a third party.

The term “staff augmentation” implies that you enlarge your team, and the enlargement is usually temporary (although it can be long-term as well). It has become a popular and sought-after recruitment approach as it helps cut costs, reduce hiring times, and allows for quick scaling up (but also down)

The concept of staff augmentation makes it particularly suitable for the IT industry. Permanent hires are not ideal for project-based work, and staff augmentation successfully overrides this problem. 

Similarly, startups and SaaS companies usually don’t have the resources to dedicate entire teams to handle multiple projects or quickly meet goals, and staff augmentation - again - can offload many of the responsibilities, from B2C and B2B business tasks to development, testing and QA.

Staff Augmentation vs. Outsourcing

One of the most common myths and misconceptions surrounding staff augmentation is that it’s just another, fancier name for outsourcing. However, the two concepts are fundamentally different. Outsourcing usually means bestowing the entire project, a big part of the project or even an entire department to a third-party company or service provider. 

Staff augmentation, on the other hand, means complementing the in-house team with external talent while maintaining full control and oversight of the project. 

In staff augmented teams, new talent is fully incorporated into the company culture, processes, and workflow, and their work is managed and controlled internally. In outsourcing, the external teams, after receiving project requests, usually proceed autonomously, without much control.

Furthermore, outsourcing tends to be a "clunkier" strategy compared to staff augmentation, since augmented teams can be scaled up or down very quickly, whether they're short or long-term arrangements.

When Do You Need Staff Augmentation? 

Staff augmentation is not a universal solution that works for just any business. Sometimes, other hiring models would be more suitable. There are, however, situations in which staff augmentation proves ideal: 

When you need to bridge a skills gap in your team. 

  • Let’s say you have a project that requires talent specialized in a skill you don’t have on your team, nor you can afford to hire on a permanent basis. This is the ideal scenario for staff augmentation, as it helps bridge that gap while saving money and resources. 

When you want to cut costs. 

  • Maintaining a full in-house IT team can be quite costly, especially for start-ups and companies in financially sensitive positions. Staff augmentation helps cut expenses related to office rental fees, wages, equipment, etc. - because the recruiting company handles those. 

When you need more flexibility. 

  • Because staff augmentation involves hiring skilled talent for a specific duration, it provides you with greater flexibility and scalability. This model has a more nuanced and individual approach that follows your needs as they change.

During peak periods and increased workload. 

  • Sometimes you need just one or two people to help handle the workload during peak periods, and if the project in question requires highly specialized talent, staff augmentation is the ideal hiring model. The talent can be hired on demand, when needed, and the team is scaled down when the work is done. 

What Are the Benefits of Staff Augmentation? 

We already saw that staff augmentation means better flexibility and scalability of teams. It can also help cut costs significantly. Other key benefits of staff augmentation (especially compared to other recruitment models) include: 

Better process control. 

  • In staff augmentation, the recruitment and other hiring procedures are handled by a third party, but it’s the client who maintains full control of the project - its specifications, dynamics, scope, and outcome. 

Bandwidth to focus on client needs. 

  • Staff augmentation implies a client-centric approach. When working with this model, your specific requirements and parameters are central to finding the right talent. This not only helps the client save time, but also guarantees the best possible match. 

Access to a wider talent pool. 

  • By leveraging external talent through staff augmentation, you tap into a vast pool of specialized skills and expertise that may not be readily available in your in-house team. This access to diverse skill sets can enhance project outcomes and innovation.

Faster time-to-market.

  • With staff augmentation, thanks to faster onboarding of experienced professionals, you can accelerate project timelines and bring your product to market faster, which can be crucial in competitive industries. 

Risk mitigation.

  • Staff augmentation offers a level of risk mitigation since you get to hire external talent for specific tasks or projects without the long-term commitment and potential liabilities associated with permanent hires. This can be particularly helpful in navigating the uncertain market conditions and economic fluctuations more effectively.

How to Get Started with Staff Augmentation? 

Staff augmentation is a complex process with a lot of moving parts, so working with an experienced agency is highly recommended.

FatCat offers full staff augmentation services, specializing in IT talent - from developers, to product managers, marketing teams and everything else. We work closely with our clients to find the perfect match from our wide pool of international talent, starting with a shortlist that you can pick from. You can then interview the candidates you like the best and pick a new hire for your augmented team. To ensure you enjoy full flexibility, we offer a couple of different cooperation models, and you’ll get to plan your budget with transparent and predictable costs. 

Get in touch with us and expand your team with just the right talent.

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