IT Staff Augmentation: Benefits, Tips, and Best Practices
In the fast-changing business landscape, people play a key role. Businesses require a fast way to scale their software development teams, and staff augmentation is the best outsourcing model to supplement your development team according to your needs
Imagine that you need to build a mobile application for your online store. You already have an in-house team of developers that work on your ecommerce website, but now you also need mobile developers.
You go to your HR department and request a search for candidates. At this stage, you may still wonder how many developers you need exactly. (Maybe one cross-platform developer or two native developers, one each for Android and iOS?)
Your HR specialists start the search and recruitment process. Some candidates don’t fit your requirements, others don’t accept offers, and the search takes a month or more. If you need to develop your application fast and require more developers, it becomes even harder to find them quickly.
The complicated hiring process can take up months that you could be spending on developing your application, and this is especially problematic when your competitors are also developing their applications and getting ready to reach a new audience of mobile users. How can you expand your team faster? There are several options. In this article you’ll learn about the staff augmentation pros and cons, and the latest IT staff augmentation trends.
What is IT staff augmentation?
Staff augmentation is a staff outsourcing strategy that allows you to get additional team members for a certain project or task in a really short time. Unlike hiring new developers in-house, which may take months of searching and negotiations, you can get new team members in just a week with staff augmentation while leaving all the hiring burdens and expenses to your vendor.
Staff augmentation allows you to quickly hire developers when you experience staff shortages. These developers then act as your team members under your management.
Staff augmentation can happen for any period of time. Short-term augmentation is often used during peak seasons, vacations, sick leaves of key employees, or holidays, allowing you to keep your usual productivity. Hiring in-house isn’t an option in such cases, as you’ll spend too much time looking for a specialist who then won’t be necessary once your full-time developers are back.
Long-term staff augmentation is used for large projects that require multiple developers in different fields of expertise, such as web, Android, and iOS development.
Benefits of IT staff augmentation
Let’s look at some benefits of augmenting your staff with the help of a vendor.
- Gain outside expertise. Staff augmentation brings experts to your team that previously worked on other projects in different domains, and they can bring unique experience and expertise to your team. This expertise can be technical or even business-related.
- Get developers fast. Staff augmentation is much faster than hiring in-house, as the staffing vendor has already gone through the hurdles of assessing and hiring developers. All you need to do is sign a contract with a vendor and get developers who are ready to work.
- Add capacity cost-effectively. With staff augmentation, you don’t need to worry about all the expenses that come with hiring in-house, including taxes, paid vacations, sick leaves, wages, bonuses, raises, workspaces, equipment, and so on. Everything is covered by your vendor, and you only pay for the amount of hours put into your project.
- Get more flexibility. You can quickly scale your team up and down depending on your current business needs and resources without having to go through the hiring process or leaving some team members without any tasks to do. Staff augmentation works great for replacing sick employees or expanding your team during the high season.
- Focus on your business goals. Staff augmentation allows you to delegate the responsibility for employees and their management to a third party while you focus on your business strategy and operations that are vital to your customers.
- Access a large pool of talents. When businesses hire in-house developers, their search is often limited by location. Staff augmentation, however, gives you access to specialists in any part of the world. This increases your chances of finding a perfect professional for your goals while also getting more options for hourly rates.
- Additional unique expertise
- Fast team augmentation
- Flexibility in scaling your team
- Focus on business goals
- Worldwide access to talents
- Lack of specific institutional knowledge
- More suitable for short-term projects
- Communication challenges are possible
- Tricky management and coordination
Disadvantages of staff augmentation
There’s nothing perfect in this world, and staff augmentation also comes with its disadvantages. For many businesses, these staff augmentation challenges won’t be that significant, but it is still important to talk about them.
- Some projects require specific institutional knowledge that your third-party developers may not have. The solution is to have a clear technical specification developed by people who know the specifics of your business.
- Staff augmentation isn’t the best solution for large, long-term projects that require ongoing support and development. For such cases, it’s best to outsource development or hire in-house.
- Communication with developers from a third-party company can be a challenge due to possible language barriers and cultural differences.
- Management and coordination between your current employees and third-party developers can get tricky if you don’t provide clear instructions on their collaboration.
Many of the pros and cons of staff augmentation are also true for other IT outsourcing models of building a software development team. Let’s review the difference between outsourcing and staff augmentation as well as other ways to build your team.
Staff augmentation vs IT outsourcing
Staff augmentation is very close to outstaffing, and many businesses use these terms interchangeably. We’ll do the same in this article for convenience, and will compare staff augmentation, or outstaffing, to outsourcing.
The main difference between staff augmentation and outsourcing is the development timeline. Though you can still outsource a small project or use staff augmentation for a long period of time, outsourcing is typically used for larger and more complex long-term projects.
Another big difference between outsourcing and the IT staff augmentation service is management. Staff augmentation usually implies internal management. This means that you as the client manage the team on your side, simply integrating additional developers into your existing team.
Outsourcing, on the other hand, often means hiring a project manager as well so you don’t need to worry about internal team communication: a project manager from your vendor will make sure your project is delivered on time and on budget and will handle communication with all stakeholders.
In both outsourcing and staff augmentation, all expenses are handled by the vendor. These include expenses for offices, workstations, equipment, taxes, salaries, bonuses, and so on. Payroll is also handled by the vendor.
What about choosing technologies and suggesting tech solutions? In outsourcing, this is the responsibility of your vendor. Though you definitely can influence the choice of technology, your vendor will in any case assist you with choosing the perfect solution for your business. This is why outsourcing is a great option for companies with no technical expertise, though it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion if you can.
With staff augmentation, you should already know what technologies you work with and just hire additional team members to join your existing team.
The main difference between outsourcing and outstaffing is who manages the team: you or your vendor
Product management is also completely your responsibility when you use staff augmentation, as all business and product decisions are made inside your company. The same goes for outsourcing, since an outsourcer will never influence your business requirements. However, an outsourcer is responsible for translating your business requirements into concrete technical specifications that will be used during development.
The cost of staff augmentation and outsourcing is usually similar and depends on the number of hours your vendor puts in. The cost of outsourcing often includes the work of a project manager, quality assurance engineer, and business analyst.
Most software development vendors offer both outsourcing and staff augmentation, and the number of team members, their areas of expertise, and the time they put into your project are determined by you. Now let’s talk about how to find a perfect vendor for your technical staff augmentation needs and build your team.
How to do staff augmentation right: best practices and tips
Step 1. Find a reliable vendor
Finding a vendor can be hard, as the IT market offers thousands of IT staff augmentation companies across the world. When you opt for offshore staff augmentation, location restrictions go away and your options are almost limitless.
However, there are ways to shortlist vendors without hassle. Here are some tips:
- Ask for recommendations from your business partners and acquaintances that have already used staff augmentation for their projects.
- Check reliable listing sites like Clutch.co and GoodFirms to read reviews from other clients and see whether a company does projects similar to yours.
- Look for expert content. You can google for a particular topic you’re interested in, and if a company’s portfolio and content resonates with you, you can contact them.
Step 2. Contact a vendor
When you contact a vendor, lay out your baseline requirements and needs and ask questions. It’s also a good idea to make sure a vendor’s developers have the expert knowledge in particular technologies you need.
Before discussing your business requirements in detail, make sure to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This way you’ll protect your business ideas and intellectual property.
I recommend scheduling a call and meeting developers that you want to include in your team. Pay attention to their communications skills to make sure they’re a good fit for your current team.
Step 3. Makes sure the cooperation models are flexible
Even if you’re looking for staff augmentation in particular, it’s good if your vendor offers multiple cooperation models like outsourcing, outstaffing, and IT consulting.
Companies that offer multiple cooperation models usually have more developers on hand, so you can expand your team at any time and request management, quality assurance, and business analysis without needing to find another company.
At Mobindustry, we’ve had clients who have their own in-house development teams but still came to us for custom end-to-end app development to free their developers for everyday tasks and supporting current software. Any type of cooperation should be possible with your vendor.
Step 4. Sign a win-win contract
An IT staff augmentation contract protects both you and your vendor and regulates all aspects of your cooperation. Its content will depend on the type of cooperation model you chose. For example, a staff augmentation contract will determine the number of hours developers spend on your project as dedicated members of your team and the ways you can request more team members. A contract also includes payment terms, notice periods, intellectual property protection, governing laws, and ways of resolving disputes.
On average, the whole process from choosing a vendor to signing a contract takes one to two weeks. This period may be longer with outsourcing, but it’s still much faster than recruiting developers in-house.
Best destinations for staff augmentation
Because you can hire developers from basically anywhere in the world, the staff augmentation market size is huge. Let’s talk about the best destinations for staff augmentation. My list will mostly contain Eastern European and Asian countries, as they have the best price–quality ratio. Clients from Europe, the US, and other countries often partner with IT staff augmentation agencies from Eastern European and Asian countries for cost-effective development.
Ukraine is a large Eastern European country with strong engineering education and over 200,000 developers, 4,000 development companies, and around 1,000 annual developer conferences where developers share their expertise and improve their skills, both business and technical.
Ukrainian institutions graduate almost 40,000 software engineers annually, so there’s no shortage in highly skilled specialists.
Ukrainian developers are typically highly praised by the international community. According to HackerRank, Ukraine is the best destination for security and fourth best in mathematics.
The biggest IT centers in Ukraine are Kyiv, Dnipro, Lviv, Kharkiv, and Odesa. There you can find lots of reliable vendors and contractors for outsourcing staff augmentation.
Ukrainian development companies on average charge $20 to $50 per hour, depending on their skills and experience.
Poland is another top destination for outsourced staff augmentation, outsourcing, and outstaffing. Polish developers are also famous for their strong skills and European mindset, which makes them great at communicating with clients.
Although there are nearly 300,000 developers in Poland, a large number of them are involved in business process management, so they aren’t available for staff augmentation.
The main IT centers in Poland are Krakow, Warsaw, Poznan, Katowice, Wroclaw, and Rzeszow.
India is one of the most popular destinations for staff augmentation and outsourcing. This large country has a crazy 5 million developers, and India consistently ranks among the top 10 countries in the world based on developers’ skills.
The most powerful IT centers that have thousands of IT staff augmentation providers in India are Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, and Delhi.
However, some businesses prefer not to work with Indian developers because of concerns about English skills and potential communication problems. Businesses often have the same concerns about working with specialists from China, which also has an immense number of developers.
The Philippines has around 190,000 developers who speak English, as 92% of the population speaks this language. There are specialized STEM high schools in the Philippines that graduate new developers each year.
Though the Philippines government works hard to improve the quality of education, the skills of developers from the Philippines are still somewhat lower than in other countries I’ve mentioned. For more complex projects, developers from China or Ukraine will be the best choice.
Like the Philippines, Romania invests heavily in their IT sector and offers citizens tuition-free education in STEM fields. An average developer in Romania earns three times more than other professionals in the country, so this will definitely bring more skilled workers into the field.
Romanian developers have good English skills, so the risk of misunderstanding is minimal. Convenient time zones for Western European clients and even clients in some parts of the US will only contribute to good communication.
Staff augmentation at Mobindustry
At Mobindustry, we provide all kinds of software development services, from IT consulting to full-cycle development and of course the IT staff augmentation services. Over the course of 10 years, we’ve tried out all kinds of collaboration models with our clients, and staff augmentation has proven one of the most popular. The longest outstaffing project we’ve had lasted for over three and a half years.
If you’re interested in staff augmentation at Mobindustry, we’ll gladly provide you with professional web and mobile developers. Our specialists create mobile apps in Swift, Kotlin, Objective-C, Java, React Native, and Flutter. Our tech stack for web projects includes Java, PHP, Ruby, Python, and Node.js.
The longest outstaffing project we’ve had at Mobindustry lasted for over three and a half years
If needed, we can also augment your team with quality assurance engineers, project managers, and business analysts. Or we can shift to an outsourcing model if you need long-term collaboration with minimal management from your side.
If you want to add new expertise to your team or need temporary replacements for developers on vacation, feel free to contact us. We’ll find a perfect match for your team for any period of time.