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What is Staff Augmentation and how is it different from a Dedicated Development Team?


Published on: 04 Dec 2020

By Praveen Kumar 

Updated June 2021

Accessing a talented workforce often comes down to two of the most popular IT outsourcing company models: staff augmentation and a dedicated development team. Find out more about the pros and cons in order to make efficient decisions for your company.

The demand for IT professionals has been on the rise as organizations embrace digital transformation by launching ambitious IT projects. In addition to that, new programming languages and technologies frequently emerge, making it challenging for organizations to keep up mainly because it requires a lot of time and effort to acknowledge and adopt them successfully.

However, a company doesn’t need to build these capabilities from zero every time. Not when there are specialized software companies that can offer you the skilled resources and competence you require to push ahead with your project or even better, outsource the entire effort to them.

Both ‘staff augmentation’ and ‘Dedicated development team setup’ are outsourcing strategies that organizations can employ to access professionals to complete an IT project.

While both are well-known practices, staff augmentation has gained much ground in the last couple of years due to workforce globalization. Let’s explore the staff augmentation model and find out what differentiates it from a dedicated team, so you can evaluate which model caters to your needs.

What is Staff Augmentation?

Staff augmentation is an organizational strategy that implies using external talent with a specific skill set for a project’s development for a fixed time.

Although these professionals work for your company, they are legally employees of another organization, usually a software development company.

Through staff augmentation, you borrow a specialized professional from the software vendor to temporarily make up for a particular skill missing from your current team until the project or a specific part of the project is completed.

The employee works under a time and material engagement model and is fully committed to your IT project working like your regular employee, minus the lengthy procedure of actually recruiting and hiring one.

Organizations turn to staff augmentation because of the flexibility and the cost-efficiency of the model, allowing them to strengthen the company’s agility in response to potential internal and external changes.

Besides an outsourcing software company lending you their talent, several other types of staff augmentation services exist. Your company can find professionals on freelancing or on-demand platforms or specialized HR services agencies. However, you need to clearly state your requirements and expectations and partner with trustworthy organizations. Otherwise, you might experience a high cost associated with the entire process.

How is the Staff Augmentation model different from a Dedicated Development team?

The first significant difference between these two models lies in their intention.  While with staff augmentation, you hire a professional with a specific skill set. When you partner with an outsourcing software company for a dedicated development team, you access talent with multiple or additional skills that cover all of the project’s stages.

The dedicated development team model implies outsourcing the entire project to a team assembled particularly for your project. It’s better suited for long-term projects, and the project manager from the vendor usually oversees it, but that is not always the case as it depends on your organization’s preferences.

Having a dedicated development team has multiple benefits, which we described in more detail here. But, if you already have an in-house team that’s missing particular expertise, staff augmentation has a couple of advantages up its sleeve.

What are the benefits of Staff Augmentation?

  • It gives access to a large talent pool

Given that your organization is looking to fill a specialized role for a project, you want to access top talent that doesn’t require training. The IT market is known to have a shortage of IT professionals, so it might be challenging to find a candidate that perfectly suits your company. This allows you to search for talent globally, increasing your chances of acquiring the specialist you need.

  • It is cost-effective

Recruiting and hiring employees is a time-consuming and expensive process. With staff augmentation, you eliminate these steps. And you also avoid the typical costs related to retaining an employee, such as paid leave, benefits, bonuses, and training.

Professionals that join your existing staff through the staff augmentation practice are highly-specialized and don’t require any training other than the usual onboarding. As they are hired for a one-time project, your organization will pay strictly for their effort and implication without the need to keep the employee around even when their skills are no longer required.

  • It offers flexibility

In-house hiring is a lengthy process, and laying off employees is a burdensome one. Going through such bureaucratic procedures that can take even longer than the project itself is not worth it, as it consumes a lot of your company’s resources.

By hiring talent on demand, you have the flexibility to add and remove members of the team as your needs expand or diminish. It helps you quickly and efficiently adapt to project concerns that haven’t been mapped out.

  • The administrative process is the responsibility of the vendor

The software company that is your outsourcing partner is responsible for the documentation and paperwork related to nearly every employee-related process: recruitment, employment, accounting, layoffs.

Your organization is also not responsible for ensuring any of the hardware equipment the employee would require to perform their tasks. Staff augmentation facilitates your access to highly qualified talent by unburdening you from one of the most cumbersome workforce processes.

When should you use Staff Augmentation?

This practice is usually recommended for short-term projects.

As you employ a specialist for a particular project that you plan to complete, for example, in less than six months, it’s more practical to use staff augmentation given that it’s a rather uncomplicated, cost-effective, and flexible outsourcing model.

Some organizations turn to staff augmentation as a trial period to determine if they are compatible with a particular outsourcing software company for a potential future long-term partnership.

Whether you decide to use staff augmentation or a dedicated development team depends on your project’s needs and the model you’re most comfortable with.  Nevertheless, staff augmentation promises specialized talent, flexibility, cost-savings concerning hiring, and operational efficiency that will benefit your organization and help you complete your projects.

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Praveen Kumar