Whether you’re trying to bring a product to launch faster, test out new potential markets, or increase production for a short period of time, staff augmentation can be a powerful tool to help your business stay flexible and grow.
However, there’s a lot of confusion about what staff augmentation is, exactly. If you start to research the term, you’ll find that a lot of the information available is specific to the IT sector. While IT staff augmentation has become an increasingly common phenomenon, it isn’t the only industry where the outsourcing method is relevant.
Are you wondering what you need to know about staff augmentation and whether or not it’s right for your organization?
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
What Is Staff Augmentation?
Staff augmentation is the process of hiring niche staff and specialists based on the requirements and needs of your organization. Utilizing an outsourcing strategy to meet submission deadlines and staff projects successfully, these technique lets companies augment their capability through the temporary use of outside personnel.
When you utilize a staff augmentation model in your workplace, you hire highly skilled resources on a contractual basis rather than hire them permanently. It is a specific type of outsourcing strategy that allows an organization to have the flexibility to staff a project and respond to individual business objectives.
Rather than hiring new, full-time employees when you are working on a particular project or considering expanding your organization into a new market, staff augmentation can allow companies to meet their goals and deadlines without taking on new full-time staff.
What Are the Different Types of Staff Augmentation?
There are several different types of staff augmentation that you’ll want to understand.
The three primary types are commodity, skill-based, and highly-skilled staff augmentation:
- Commodity: This type of staff augmentation allows you to have reliable workers that can perform a variety of tasks, such as manual labor, warehouse work, retail, or events.
- Skill-Based: Skill-based staff augmentation allows you to fill out your company’s needs for types of work such as clerical work, data processing, transcription, and basic copywriting.
- Highly-Skilled: In some instances, you might require that your organization is augmented with highly-skilled work. That might include brand design, software engineering, or contract law.
Staff augmentation can also be divided into short-term and long-term solutions. Short-term staff augmentation services might be used when your in-house specialists aren’t available for a specific project or when your organization only has a short-term need for specialists or workers.
On the other hand, long-term staff augmentation can be used to help cut operational gaps or fill a skill gap in longer projects. Some organizations also might use staff augmentation if they struggle to find the right in-house hire in a timely manner.
How Does Staff Augmentation Work?
In recent years, the term staff augmentation has transformed from a buzzword to a staple in various industries across the globe. While it’s been particularly revolutionary in the IT industry, it doesn’t have to refer to hiring technical specialists specifically.
If your company has aggressive project requirements and deadlines, staff augmentation might be the solution you need to get the competitive edge you desire.
So, how does staff augmentation work?
Firstly, you’ll need to identify where your needs lie. What are the resources your organization or team could benefit from? What expertise or specialization would help you reach your project goals or deadlines?
The next step is to search for temporary staff to fulfill your organization’s needs. Of course, you can augment your staff on your own, but many larger organizations utilize staff augmentation services as they can provide the most time and cost-effective method of augmenting their staff.
Once you have found the ideal candidates to help fulfill your organization’s needs, you will want to go through a previously designed onboarding process. By having a successful onboarding process, you can ensure that your temporary employees will be successfully integrated into the project at hand.
When Should You Leverage Staff Augmentation?
There are countless scenarios when your organization might feel it’s appropriate to use staff augmentation.
Some of these include:
- Strategic: You can strategically use flexible labor as a way to gain a competitive advantage, such as by increasing your team’s agility or increasing the speed of a project to the market)
- Specialized skills: Staff augmentation can be used when you only need specialized skills for a period of time, such as tech setup, brand and logo design, or facilities setup
- Bridge to hire: You can also use staff augmentation to provide capacity while you work towards building a permanent team, such as when you are going into a new line of business or opening a new location
- Increased capacity: Staff augmentation can be used to fulfill a temporary need for increased everyday work, for example, for seasonal businesses, when there are spikes in demand, when you’re increasing production, or when you’re working on a specific project
In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in staff augmentation among companies and organizations across the globe.
If you’re weighing out your options for building a team, you’ve likely been researching the different virtual recruitment tools you can use to attract online talent. In a world where the job market is increasingly online, finding the best talent requires that your organization has a substantial online presence. Check out our list of thirty ways you can make the transition to virtual recruitment seamlessly.
What Are the Benefits of Staff Augmentation?
Only your organization can determine whether staff augmentation is the proper strategy to fit your needs. However, there are certainly many benefits that this practice provides for businesses both on a temporary and ongoing basis.
1. High Productivity
When you hire specialized staff specifically for a particular project, they can put the entirety of their focus toward reaching the goals and deadlines you set for them. Rather than being pulled in several different directions, as regular staff typically are, staff augmentation can help increase your company’s productivity when it matters most.
2. Adaptability and Growth
One of the most apparent benefits of staff augmentation is that it allows organizations flexibility that hiring a full-time workforce doesn’t. If your company is considering expanding its operations, for example, hiring a temporary team can allow them to trial the idea while mitigating risk at the same time.
For growing businesses, staff augmentation allows hiring individuals or teams on a project-by-project basis. That gives them the freedom to evaluate and analyze new projects in terms of their market viability without investing too much.
We all know that hiring full-time staff is costly. At the same time, organizations require specific types of labor and knowledge to function optimally.
Your organization doesn’t need to be short on resources to understand the benefit of hiring a cost-effective workforce. However, staff augmentation can undoubtedly be an excellent option for projects with strict budgets.
How much it costs to use a staff augmentation service will depend on several different factors, including the cost of training, hourly rates, and more. It usually costs less to utilize a staff augmentation service than to hire a full-time staff.
4. Resource Saving
Hiring staff can be a time-consuming and costly endeavor. When you use a staff augmentation service, you can save time and money so that those resources can be redirected elsewhere.
One of the most significant benefits of staff augmentation is that it allows you to increase and decrease your workforce practically on-demand. In a way similar to retail stores hiring seasonal employees during the holidays or busy periods of the year, you can turn up or turn down the size of your workforce at the drop of a hat.
If you’re considering replacing an employee in your workplace, the process should occur discretely. Whether you’re changing your staffing by switching from full-time staff to an augmented staffing solution during a transition period or if you’ve decided an employee’s performance and behavior warrants termination, it can feel difficult to know how to go about the process without creating a scene. Take a look at this article about how to replace an employee with discretion.
What Are the Challenges of Staff Augmentation?
There are also some challenges that staff augmentation presents to any organization.
For example, some projects might require that a specialist have a high level of institutional or contextual knowledge. Regardless of how experienced the temporary team member is, this type of scenario can mean that it takes a long period of time for the project to ramp up to full speed. As you might imagine, this can make staff augmentation less cost-effective.
Some organizations also worry about the sustainability of using staff augmentation services. For example, they might be concerned about having an increased dependency on third-party services from which they draw their talent.
Lastly, staff augmentation probably isn’t the best solution for skills needed on an ongoing basis or for long-term projects. For instance, if you are considering augmenting your staff for a project that you expect will take three years, you are running the risk that the temporary staff will turn over before the project is finished.
What Are Staff Augmentation Services?
When you are engaging staff augmentation talent, there are many different options for you to choose from. Depending on the needs of your company or organization, you’ll likely find that one of the various types of staff augmentation services will be more appropriate.
1. Traditional Staffing Providers
If you’re looking for extra workers on projects where a high level of skill isn’t required, this might be an option that works for your organization. You can typically find skill-based and commodity augmented staff through these methods.
2. Gig Platforms
You can gain access to independent workers through online gig platforms. This can be a good choice when you prioritize speed and flexibility, and you can generally find skill-based and commodity workers this way.
3. Master Vendor Staffing Providers
If you’re searching for a lot of commodity workers at a low cost, these large-scale staffing programs might suit your needs. However, it’s worth noting that talent quality can be very inconsistent.
4. On-Demand Talent Platforms
Another type of online platform that you can use to augment your staff, you can find highly-skilled augmented staff through this method.
5. Direct Independent Relationships
Of course, you can also hire independent contractors directly as an organization. Doing so offers low overhead and lets you control the quality, but this route has its challenges.
6. Consulting Firms and Boutique/Specialized Staffing Firms
Finally, you can also use smaller agencies or firms to hire highly-skilled and skill-based talent. While you can find quality workers this way, there is usually a high overhead.
What’s the Difference Between Outsourcing and Staff Augmentation?
Technically, staff augmentation is a type of outsourcing. However, you might hear the two terms used interchangeably when they aren’t synonymous.
Outsourcing is when you hire another individual or company to be responsible for a task or project that could be done internally. For example, your organization might outsource its web design, customer service, or digital marketing needs. Even though you could choose to have in-house teams for these purposes, it can make sense to outsource particular tasks to save both time and money.
On the other hand, staff augmentation is when you temporarily fill out your staff with additional team members, often in pursuit of a specific project or goal.
While outsourcing is often considered more affordable, it can mean that you lose out on valuable insights from in-house employees or short-term augmented staff. When you hire temporary in-house employees, you can maintain greater control over the workflow.
Even though outsourcing can save you money, depending on the task at hand, the final product might not align with your expectations or fit your organization’s needs. With staff augmentation, you aren’t simply handing over a vital project to another individual or organization. Instead, you are temporarily incorporating an individual or team into your organization, allowing you to have a lot more control over the process and implementation of the project.
Do you or your company have any questions about staff augmentation? If so, please feel free to leave a comment down below. I always reply to every comment and love engaging in conversations about recruiting and staffing solutions.
Andrew Greenberg’s roots in recruiting date back to 1996. He has experience both on the agency-side and corporate-side of the staffing business, with a focus in the financial services space at companies like Bloomberg and UBS. He also has core experience with information technology staffing, and has worked for major software companies such as SAP Business Objects and IBM/Informix Software. To get in touch with Andrew, you can reach him by email or by phone at (800) 797-6160.