What Is Staff Augmentation?

Staff augmentation is a cost-effective way to add staff to your business on a per-project basis. Our expert explains what you need to know about this hiring approach.

Written by Rachita Sharma
Published on May. 20, 2024
What Is Staff Augmentation?
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Staff augmentation is a prevalent staffing model that several companies have tried and tested. It serves as a flexible alternative to the hiring of additional permanent staff and is a way to guarantee responsiveness in adapting to changing dynamics in one’s market and customer expectations. 

What Is Staff Augmentation? 

Staff augmentation refers to the practice of hiring non-permanent personnel to supplement an existing workforce. It allows businesses to scale up when necessary to enhance their capacity. This process usually involves bringing in professionals or building an extended remote team through third-party staffing agencies. Many industries, including IT, finance, and healthcare, have adopted this approach. In essence, it is a form of outsourcing.

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What Are the Benefits of Staff Augmentation?

Let’s see why so many companies have adopted staff augmentation and its advantages.

Access to a Larger Pool of Specialized Talents

As businesses expand, they’ll naturally want to seek skills not currently present among their employees. Augmented staff already have the professional skills that the company requires, providing the benefit of tapping into a vast pool of talent alongside the existing workforce. Staff augmentation proves especially beneficial when the company only needs someone with such skills for a short duration.

Furthermore, this approach offers peace of mind, as experienced augmented staff can proficiently execute the projects for which they were hired. These professionals bring a considerable skill set to your project, allowing you to focus more on the bigger picture — the day-to-day operations of the company.

Flexibility in Scaling Up or Down

Most companies tend to scale up operations and business during profitable market periods. They face the risk of failure or capital shortage when the situation reverses, however. So, having access to a remote team can be a dependable practice for small- and medium-scale businesses in dynamic markets.

This approach enables you to hire the team you need precisely when you need them, typically on a per-project basis. Moreover, it allows you to scale down as necessary without impacting the core of your business or harming employee morale.

Cost Effectiveness

Hiring augmented staff for a short period is more cost-effective than recruiting and training full-time employees. This approach provides the desired quality without excessive spending on recruitment, overhead and employee expenses. By opting for augmented staff, you also save on human resource expenses related to recruitment, interviewing and training.

The goal of augmentation is to enhance your current workforce efficiently without significantly impacting your budget.

Ease of Management

Compared to total outsourcing, staff augmentation ensures smoother control over projects. When you fully outsource your work, you have minimal influence over the intricacies of the project’s progress or its quality. You lose touch with the process and any chance at oversight.

Through staff augmentation, however, you can convey specific requirements to the augmented staff, which gives you more control over the output. By assigning specific tasks or areas of focus to specialists, you can ease the burden on the rest of your team and let them devote their energy to what is fully in their purview.

Another common issue in total outsourcing is the risk of privacy and security breaches. Staff augmentation helps mitigate these risks. You can set up tighter privacy controls for how they access sensitive data. Since part of the work stays in-house, you can easily keep an eye on the information made available to those working on the outside. 

 

What Are the Drawbacks of Staff Augmentation?

Although staff augmentation offers numerous benefits, it also comes with some drawbacks. Let’s see what some of these challenges are and how to overcome them.

Integration with Existing Staff

Your existing employees may offer some resistance to this approach, making a seamless integration of your staff extension challenging. It’s fair to say that new team members can disrupt the dynamics of the office if not integrated properly, potentially leading to breakdowns in communication and cooperation.

One effective approach to solve this problem is to invest in team-building workshops or activities. Through these initiatives, new team members become more accustomed to the office culture. You should also clearly define the roles and responsibilities of every team member. This will help the team avoid any future conflicts where people feel like they are being snubbed, their toes are being stepped on, or someone is getting the short end of the stick. These can be uncomfortable conversations, but being clear about project boundaries up front will keep feathers from getting ruffled and make it clear who people should go to with questions.

Quality Control

Ensuring that augmented staff adhere to the same level of quality expectations as your existing employees is another challenge. It often requires meticulous monitoring of the outcomes of any tasks assigned to them. Otherwise, you may find yourself getting subpar work, negatively impacting your company’s reputation.

To overcome this challenge, set clear performance metrics for the augmented teams and hold them accountable. Regular check-ins or reviews are good ways to initiate and maintain this process.

Knowledge Transfer

Facilitating knowledge-sharing between augmented and existing employees can pose a significant challenge. Merging the skills and assets of a team with precision is the hallmark of any great manager. Any good leader knows that an efficient team relies on a robust and clearly stated plan that addresses the project at hand in every stage and notes its organizational structure.

To address this issue, consider hiring professionals with a methodical approach to project management. Evaluate how promptly the professional can create a learning environment where the internal team and staff-augmented employees are willing to exchange ideas and collectively learn. Everyone should understand the work ethic and culture of the organization, so try to instill it within all employees. Record-keeping is also absolutely essential, with documentation in an accessible and easily digestible format that the whole team can use. Ensure that knowledge transfer is not conducted informally.

Additionally, establish your own rules and expectations to guarantee a successful knowledge transfer. Having meetings and conversations is often scorned outside of work, but having face-to-face time is essential. Formalizing times for supervisors and employees to check in with each other will ensure you can address problems before they start.

Shortage of Talent

A significant concern for companies seeking to hire augmented staff is the risk of engaging vendors with insufficient expertise. This often prompts companies to expand their search beyond local talent and explore remote workers to find the right skill set.

To mitigate this challenge, companies must establish a meticulous hiring process to identify talent suitable for their specific needs. This approach minimizes the risk of onboarding vendors whose delivery may not meet the required standards. Additionally, another viable solution is to engage a reputable staffing agency with a proven track record in assigning professionals matching the company’s criteria.

If you want to find talent on your own, be sure to do your research. Find out other clients the vendor has worked for and follow up with them about their experience. Read reviews. Call other vendors in the same field and ask them who they would want to hire. Forewarned is forearmed.

 

How to Select Augmented Staff

Staff augmentation is one of the best ways to scale up operations while drawing from a pool of diverse talent. To create efficient partnerships, however, you should adopt a guided process. The process of selecting augmented staff typically involves the following steps.

  • Identify your staffing needs to know if staff augmentation will solve them. One of your employees could have the necessary expertise you seek, but nobody in management has raised the issue with the larger company. Merely sending out an in-house email about current needs might find the necessary talent without further searching.
  • Establish clear requirements by outlining the specific skills, experience and qualifications needed for the project. You also need to determine the budget and an approximate duration of time for which you want to hire the vendor. For example, if you want your yard redone, you’ll need to contract with a landscaper and determine what is possible with your budget based on the price of soil, grass seed, trees, shrubs, and flowers. You also want it done in spring so the plants can all set roots before summer. You should make similar plans when augmenting your staff.
  • Research and vet potential partners to evaluate their track record, industry expertise, client references, technology stack, and communication channels. Find a contractor that fits your specifications. Returning to the yard work example, you should conduct research through online websites and reviews to make sure you find a landscaping crew that has the tools needed so you don’t have to contract with a third-party to tear up your old yard and make room for the new one. You also don’t want some high-schoolers showing up with just a lawnmower.
  • Conduct interviews and assessments to gauge their communication style, work ethic, problem-solving skills, and cultural alignment. We all know someone who hired a contractor after a handshake and their bathroom model still isn’t finished.
  • Finally, negotiate terms and conditions to clearly define the scope of work, payment terms, termination procedures, confidentiality agreement and performance expectations. Make sure you get everything in writing. If you do no other step, do this. Having your work scope, timing and financial agreements on paper will save you many headaches.

By carefully following these steps, you can find a partner that aligns with your company’s goals and delivers the desired results.

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Consider Augmenting Your Staff

Staff augmentation has emerged as a successful model to address staffing requirements. This efficient approach enables organizations to rapidly expand their teams, onboard skilled professionals, and maintain control over project outcomes. Particularly advantageous for small and medium-sized businesses, staff augmentation proves to be an adaptable solution in ever-evolving markets.

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