Manilka Pathirane

22nd September 2021

With the increase in the use of contingent workers within organizations across the world becoming an imminent trend in recent years, many of these have manifested themselves in the form of working models, the most common being what is now known as Staff Augmentation.

What is Staff Augmentation?

The current trend dictating the rise of staff augmentation services was caused by the abundance of IT resources, declining rates, and narrowing margins for companies that need these services – but what is Staff Augmentation really about?

Staff Augmentation is in simple terms an outsourcing strategy used to staff projects and respond to business objectives on a temporary basis. The technique consists of evaluating existing staff within an organization and then determining which additional skills are required to fill in the gaps in projects in compliance with current organizational objectives. One possible advantage of this approach is that it may leverage existing resources as well as utilize outsourced services and contract workers based on the skills needed on a short or long-term basis.

Types of Staff Augmentation Models

Broadly speaking there are 02 main types of staff augmentation models which include short-term (during peaks of increased demand, seasonal holidays, etc.) and long-term collaboration (fill skill gaps, cut operational costs, reduce recruitment timelines, etc.). These can however be further divided into 03 categories, and it is very important to wisely choose and understand each type:

  • Commodity:  This is the basic concept of needing reliable and responsible staff to get the assigned work done, but the specific skill set within these staff aren’t required. 
    Eg: Basic factory or warehouse work.
  • Skill-Based: Unlike the previously mentioned type, the staff requires specific skill sets to complete the assigned task but the relative level of skill is not critical and in most cases flexible.
    Eg: database processing, clerical work, etc.
  • Highly Skilled: Staff is required to have more advanced skill sets that are achievable only through knowledge, training, and experience, and the level of the skill achieved is also very important.
    Eg: software engineers, designers, etc.

Choosing the right Staff Augmentation Model for Your Organization

Staff augmentation is the perfect tool for quickly scaling up your organization or fulfilling the need for particular skills or knowledge, and thereby choosing the right staff augmentation model to suit your organization is as equally important and would depend on a multitude of scenarios that include but are not limited to:

  • The need to reduce operational costs.
  • Launching new projects that require additional staff.
  • Projects that require specialized knowledge and skill-sets.
  • Testing new products before launching.

Depending on their needs, most organizations utilize a combination of providers. The most crucial thing to consider when considering staff augmentation is to figure out what you’re aiming to achieve and what is most vital. For example, emphasizing cost will be impractical if you are seeking a machine learning specialist (a highly in-demand skill nowadays).

Similarly, if you require 100 employees to complete a job that can be learned quickly, you won’t want to hire based on high skill levels. With so many different staff augmentation models to choose from, it’s vital to assess the benefits and drawbacks of each one before making a decision.

How can Staff Augmentation improve your business?

With there being many different scenarios to consider when making use of staff augmentation services, each will introduce your organization to a plethora of benefits such as:

  • Increased Flexibility and Capacity: Increase staff capacities to meet temporary fluctuations in demand, for example during holiday seasons, implementation of new projects or spikes in customer demands, etc.
  • Time Saving: With specialists being rather difficult to find locally at specific times, recruitment processes can sometimes take months which can be overcome by hiring specialists from around the globe within shorter time spans.
  • Lower Operational Costs: Operational costs such as office rentals, bills, equipment  etc, can be forgone by adapting outsourcing models of staff augmentation.
  • Closing Skill Gaps: Organizations that lack IT talents are able to gain access to global talent pools that provide the required skill sets to achieve operational objectives.
  • Bridge to Hire: For organizations that have longer-term needs, staff augmentation can serve as a temporary bridge to provide capacity until a permanent team can be hired. 
  • Strategic Advantages: This can be used to build organizations or teams to gain competitive advantages through the adoption of more agile practices as well as increase the time to market.

The Benefits of Staff Augmentation

Like any other service, several pros can be identified with the utilization of staff augmentation. Based on these, it is solely up to the management to determine whether staff augmentation is the appropriate choice for their specific needs.

  • Experienced augmented staff can add value to the task they are in and provide filtered and responsible experienced staff.
  • Workforce transparency allows organizations to be informed of every detail of the work assigned through advanced tools of communication and project management strategies.
  • Organizations can hire staff with specific skill-sets for the assigned task and not hire permanent employees, rather recruiting a variety of staff for diverse assigned jobs.
  • Cost-saving is one of the most essential benefits of staff augmentation. For a task that could be completed in a short period, many companies undergo a large cost in hiring permanent employees and providing them training.  With staff augmentation, these costs could be reduced.

In conclusion, staff augmentation is the perfect method to scale a project when your in-house staff is either unavailable or unable to deliver all solutions. It also brings in a multitude of benefits in terms of cost-effectiveness, transparency, and flexibility. 

Therefore it is important that the right model and right provider must be chosen to best suit your organizational needs.

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