Staff augmentation is an outsourcing strategy where an organization hires an additional team to extend its existing resources. As a popular outsourcing mode in IT services, IT staff augmentation reached $45 billion in 2015 and is expected to grow manifold.
In this blog, we will shed light on the key areas:
- IT staff augmentation definition
- Types of IT staff augmentation
- Process for IT staff augmentation
- IT staff augmentation benefits
- IT staff augmentation tips for businesses
What is IT staff augmentation? Definition & Meaning
Staff augmentation is NOT another buzzword that has yet to emerge in the digital age. The model has been in practice for decades and has become a recurring mode of employing professionals, especially in the tech industry. The practice began when companies would search for administrators to fill in the roles of their employees suffering from illnesses or taking leaves for some reason.
Today, the term has become a popular addition to the IT glossary and vernacular, becoming what we know as IT staff augmentation.
IT staff augmentation entails adding more talent to an already present team or hiring a complete team for a project. Mostly, this hiring is offshore and remote with flexible timings. Various modes have emerged to cater to the staffing demands, such as long-term and short-term staff augmentation.
IT Staff Augmentation Models
A business can choose to hire staff on two bases: short-term and long-term. These are explained in detail below:
- Short-term IT staff augmentation: In this model, companies require individuals for a specific and short period, such as for a project. Since most projects do not stretch beyond some months or a year, this model is also considered short-term.
Businesses can also hire on a short-term owing to the spikes in a season when they have a lot of work to look after or when some of their workforces is on leave and vacation. In such instances, short-term IT staff augmentation is beneficial as the business does not need to hire full-time employees, only to let them go when their demand is no more in the off-season.
- Long-term IT staff augmentation: This is where businesses need additional staff for a longer period, stretching beyond a year. For example, even after your software has been developed and deployed, you may require a team to look after the expanding datasets.
On-site vs. remote IT staff augmentation
When it comes to outsourcing, many businesses are uncomfortable handing over their work to an individual or team they will not be collaborating with onsite. Several managers prefer having their subordinates right before their eyes for better coordination.
Types of IT staff augmentation
The three most common types of IT staff augmentation models are commodity-based, skill-based, and highly skilled.
- Commodity or Basic
Commodity or Basic staff augmentation is when your organization requires some more personnel to carry out a task or project, especially if it is urgent. This type of IT staff augmentation model is suitable for companies that do not need people with specific skills or expertise.
This model is not usually preferred by software houses and IT companies, as their projects tend to require specialized skills. Nevertheless, tasks like data entry and customer support are where IT companies look for freshers who need to gain prior experience.
Skills-based staffing involves hiring a specific set of people with the relevant skill or expertise needed in a project or task. However, the level of skill or expertise can be mid-level in this type of IT staff augmentation.
- Highly skilled
As the name suggests, the Highly Skilled model calls for professionals possessing years of experience and advanced skillsets that directly pertain to the expertise needed in the project or task. This is the most common mode opted for by software houses and IT companies.
Individuals and teams hired through the Highly-skilled model are generally hired for campaigns and short-term projects where specific skills are necessary. However, many employees often get hired for the long term when they’ve become indispensable to a business. For example, an organization considering hiring a web 3.0 development company to work on its virtual store may extend the contract and hire the team to look after the virtual store permanently.
The most skills and domains that organizations demand expertise in are:
- Cloud Computing
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Agile Methodologies
- Full Stack Development
- Data Science
Other Categories and Types of Staff Augmentation Services
Besides the previously discussed staff augmentation types, many companies are involved in making use of the following models too:
- Traditional Staff Providers: hiring laborers (highly skilled or mid-level skilled) on a temporary basis.
- Master Vendor Staff Provider: one vendor operates the entire staffing program. Suitable for quick and bulk hiring needs where cost and skill level can be low.
- Specialized/Boutique Agencies: small organizations focusing on highly skilled and specific talent. The quality and cost here are both high.
- Gig Platforms: online platforms providing immediate and direct access to freelancers and independent workers. With online platforms, it is difficult to keep tabs on the worker, and the work quality may only sometimes be up to the mark.
- On-demand Talent Platforms: online platforms that provide access to highly skilled specialists
- Independent Contractors: Independent contractors are engaged directly by organizations.
Different Types of IT Staff Augmentation According to the Industry
While IT staff augmentation is becoming a popular model for many businesses and organizations, some industries that readily opt for IT resource augmentation include healthcare, finance, manufacturing, transportation, and logistics.
- IT Staff Augmentation in Healthcare
Healthcare technology is gaining a lot of traction in the current era, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of healthcare organizations are investing in digital solutions to speed up their medical processes and increase efficiency while delivering improved medical care.
IT companies that provide healthcare software services dedicate entire teams, especially if the project requires end-to-end development. Opting for IT staff augmentation in healthcare helps ensure that the product developed meets the goal of imparting better medical care, whether it is via patient data collection, telehealth, point-of-care solutions, or telemedicine. Such organizations would have the know-how to build and include essential features in healthcare apps.
- IT Staff Augmentation in Finance
Financial technology (Fintech) is another rapidly growing and popular industry, with digital solutions like investment apps, crypto apps, personal finance apps, and much more. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have remained at the front and center of fintech, and many startups are now focused on providing solutions in fintech app development.
IT staff augmentation remains prevalent when it comes to building fintech solutions since dedicated teams possessing high-level expertise in financial software development work best and up to scale.
- IT Staff Augmentation in Manufacturing
Industrial manufacturing companies are looking to refine their processes by supplementing them with technology. In this lieu, IT staff augmentation can help with solutions like cloud computing, database management, remote monitoring, etc. Trained IT professionals can help train the existing workforce with understanding enterprise application integration, adopt new data collection and storage practices on the cloud, and manage surveillance systems.
- IT Staff Augmentation in Transportation and Logistics
Transportation and logistics companies have been implementing a myriad of technologies to speed up processes, enhance efficiency and increase customer satisfaction. In fact, transportation and logistics software have witnessed an increase in demand with the passage of time, with the emergence of ride-hailing and car-sharing apps, fleet management, GPS tracking, electronic ticketing systems, and route optimization software.
For building such software applications, many logistics and transportation companies opt for IT staff augmentation, hiring dedicated teams with expertise in the domain. Instead of hiring in-house developers, transport companies benefit from outsourcing the development work by getting instant access to skilled software engineers and developers with experience developing transportation solutions that meet regulatory compliance while implementing new technologies.
Benefits of IT Staff Augmentation for Businesses
IT staff augmentation generally poses more benefits to project-based circumstances; nevertheless, businesses can reap several advantages from opting for this model. Benefits of IT staff augmentation include:
- Value addition to your team
Having access to a pool of skilled resources helps fill the gap in your current workforce. Only some employees of yours will be equipped with a wide range of skills, especially in this rapidly paced world where technological change occurs every single day.
- Saves on costs
Instead of going on a hiring spree and spending a large amount on advertising and interviewing, you can quickly assign the tasks to someone already skilled in the domain you’re seeking. Moreover, you need not worry about employee perks, employee engagement, salary reviews, and providing office facilities. All these aspects remain the headache of the outsourced company.
- Saves on time
Since you do not have to spend time creating job postings, conducting interviews, and going through the entire recruiting process, you can save up on a lot of time. This way, the pending tasks, and projects can be completed sooner.
- Helps maintain control
By handing over your tasks or projects to another outside team, you can decide whom you want to lead the projects and what tasks should be on priority.
Based on your requirements, you can hire teams for short-term projects or on a long-term basis. Similarly, you can decide how you pay monthly, weekly, or hourly. On the other hand, with a full-time in-house employee, you have to pay for the entire month even if there isn’t much work to look after and provide them with other perks.
- Client-Centered Approach
The companies that will provide you with dedicated teams will put your projects in the first place, providing you with results that have been evaluated for quality control and compliance.
Challenges of IT Staff Augmentation
As with every hiring strategy, there are challenges to this model too. The major cons of IT staff augmentation include the following:
- Managing multiple vendors and contractors
Since the team is not always under your nose, communication issues can arise, especially if the time zones are different. With communication issues, it can be difficult to manage multiple teams and ensure that your goals are met.
- Ensuring quality and consistency
With managerial issues also come quality issues. Often, you, as the employer, may need help to get your message across, and the project/tasks can face delays. Moreover, if the staff is not competent enough, the work may not be up the quality either.
- Managing security and compliance
Providing your credentials and logins to your systems can pose security issues too. A certain degree of trust is imperative for any operation; however, regular security checks must ensure no malicious activity occurs.
How to Implement IT Staff Augmentation?
Now that we have explored the various types of IT staff augmentation, its popular industries, pros, and cons, we will go through the primary process towards its implementation. The five major steps are:
- Identifying needs and goals for IT staff augmentation
Before you embark on any task, you set forth your requirements. Similarly, to choose the correct IT staff augmentation model and type, you must determine what your organization requires at the moment.
By requirements, we mean the exact details such as:
- The longevity of the project can be short-term or long-term
- Skills required in the workforce you plan to hire
- Experience you seek in the candidates, and level of proficiency
Create job descriptions considering these pointers.
- Sourcing potential candidates
Get in touch with a staffing agency or look for candidates via job boards, professional networks, and social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
- Screening and hiring qualified IT staff
Now that you have the list of potential candidates, evaluate and select based on the requirements you outlined previously. In addition to their skills and experience, ensure that you analyze whether they will be a cultural fit. Attitude is a key factor when it comes to getting tasks done.
- Managing and integrating augmented IT staff into the team
Provide the necessary orientation and training to the new staff members and ensure they are equipped with all the resources required to work on their tasks and projects.
- Monitoring and maintaining communication
Communication is vital; maintain open communication, especially if the team is in a different time zone. Provide feedback at every step of the way and check for updates if all the team members, existing company personnel, and key stakeholders are on the same page.
Best Practices for Successful IT Staff Augmentation
To get the best out of your outsourcing strategies, it is necessary that you implement a set of best practices. To drive success with IT staff augmentation, make sure you follow these practices:
- Foster a positive environment
A culture that breeds negativity cannot bear positive outcomes. If your employees are disgruntled and dissatisfied, the negativity will also seep into your new dedicated team.
As such, try to keep employee satisfaction and engagement at a satisfactory level and encourage an environment of positivity. Address issues and any employee concerns immediately instead of pushing them back to the burner or prolonging them, making them feel heard.
- Provide adequate resources and support
Individuals require the necessary equipment to perform their tasks, whether their laptop or desktop, office stationery, training material, or information regarding their peers. Suppose you have hired a dedicated team to work on a project. In that case, they can only perform to their utmost potential if they have all the essentials with them, like access to tools, login details, project information, documentation, and others.
- Maintain regular communication and feedback
Communication is key in any relationship. The same applies to workplace relationships and coordination. With transparent and clear communication, you can get your message across, which can lead to undesired outcomes such as a lack of clarity on the task goals.
Even if you have provided your new team with all the essentials they may require, keep asking for feedback and check their progress. Discuss all or any shortcomings that emerge and take measures to counter them.
- Manage security and compliance
Since you’re bringing in outside expertise and support, you have to ensure that the data and systems they rely on are secure and comply with relevant regulations and standards.
Here are some possible ways you can prevent possible data breaches and maintain compliance:
- Background checks: Before hiring any resource, do your due diligence and perform proper background checks.
- Data protection policies: measures such as encryption, access controls, and data backup and recovery procedures all make up data protection policies. These policies help us understand how sensitive data will be protected and handled. Data protection policies also help maintain transparency and protocol, keeping all employees and management staff on the same page.
- Compliance with regulations: Make sure that your IT staff augmentation practices comply with relevant regulations and standards, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and ISO 27001.
- Access controls: Your organization should have strict access controls in place to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive data and systems. This can include measures such as two-factor authentication and regular monitoring of access logs.
- Continuous monitoring: Keep systems in place to continuously monitor the data and systems for signs of security incidents or breaches. This can include regular security scans, penetration testing, and vulnerability assessments.
Myths and Misconceptions about IT Staff Augmentation
Falling prey to myths circulating on the internet is common nowadays, which is why there are plenty of misconceptions about IT staff augmentation too. Due to these misconceptions, companies tend to stray away from adopting this model and deprive themselves of hiring skilled professionals who can actually help speed up their projects.
Common myths about IT staff augmentation include the following:
- It is expensive
Contrary to popular opinion, IT staff augmentation can prove to be a much more cost-effective solution than in-house hiring. Though it requires an upfront investment, you can decide when and how to bring a team with a specific skillset on an as-needed basis.
- It is not flexible
You can scale up or down your resource augmentation solution as you deem necessary based on how your business is operating. This helps businesses free themselves from legal headache, which is generally associated with hiring permanent staff.
- It can compromise the quality
With IT outsourcing, you get instant access to highly-skilled IT personnel with the specific type of skillset you require, most often from leading IT firms. As such, the quality of the work and output is not sacrificed. For example, web 3.0 is a growing industry but many developers are unable to work on it. To fully leverage the benefits of Web 3.0, you will need specific Web3 developers.
- It is a short-term solution
While mostly IT staff augmentation is used for short-term commitments, many companies may consider going in for the long haul if they have found the team’s performance satisfactory. In fact, IT staff augmentation can actually help maintain continuity by providing access to a pool of highly skilled and experienced IT personnel who can step in as needed to ensure smooth operations. For example, if you have multiple products that need testing, you opt for QA staff augmentation for a longer time.
- It leads to a lack of control
Lack of control is a major concern for most companies, who believe that an offshore and offsite team will not align with the company’s values, culture, and goals. However, this should not be a cause for worry since you get to decide whom you keep on the team after a thorough evaluation.
Conclusion – How Important is IT staff augmentation?
IT staff augmentation is growing at a fast pace. More and more organizations are gearing towards outsourcing skilled talent, especially since there has been a surge in startups on a global scale. Instead of going through the hassle of hiring in-house employees, many organizations can choose to outsource teams and get their tasks done. Moreover, after the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in remote work, many organizations are finding it convenient to choose an IT staff augmentation service instead of worrying about the cumbersome process associated with hiring in-house.
At VentureDive, you can outsource projects or hire a dedicated team for end-to-end software deployment, custom software development for web and mobile, design, and quality assurance. We can cater to your requirements if you need your software developed from scratch or tested for bugs.
Frequently Asked Questions about IT Staff Augmentation
IT staff augmentation can fill various IT roles, including developers, engineers, project managers, business analysts, quality assurance testers, and more.
IT staff augmentation involves hiring temporary staff to work alongside an organization’s existing IT team, while outsourcing involves contracting out all or part of the organization’s IT functions to an external provider.
IT staff augmentation can provide several benefits, including access to specialized skills and expertise, increased flexibility and scalability, reduced recruitment costs, and improved productivity.