IT Staff Augmentation: What Is It and How Does It Work?
IT staff augmentation describes when businesses rely on a form of outsourcing to meet their technical needs, adding to their staff structure in the process.
If you know your vocabulary words, figuring out what IT staff augmentation is might not be so hard. ‘Augment’ means to increase or make something bigger. And IT is that guy who comes and fixes your computers every time a restart and turning your device off and on doesn’t work.
To be honest, that is the gist of it. But if you happen to be the one responsible for your company’s staff augmentation process, that won’t be enough. Cutting corners is not an option.
Full-time IT computer specialists are hard to find, at least according to 68% of HR professionals in a 2016 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). And professionals in the technology industry are routinely lacking.
By this measure, IT staff augmentation may be a necessary component to running your business smoothly.
IT staff augmentation could be what you need to fill in the gaps in your business. Keep reading to find out what staff augmentation is and how it works!
What Is Staff Augmentation?
Staff augmentation is a means of responding to business needs by extracting specialized skill sets via outsourcing.
The mainstream idea of outsourcing is when some high-powered corporate entity hires underpaid employees in the Far East because they don’t care to pay their local employees fair wages.
Although this surely holds true in some cases, outsourcing can be far more than meets the eye. For example, it’s quite common actually for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to outsource their IT needs. This is because SMBs often don’t have the resources to hire everybody they need outright.
However, that doesn’t mean that the business neglects its own team. In fact, small businesses and startups tend to be very tight-knit. Responsibility isn’t concentrated at the top of the pyramid and managers tend to make it clear that staff members are not taken for granted.
Still, SMBs often suffer from a lack of resources. For one, many startups do not have the budget to host physical infrastructures for their servers and databases, making cloud technology a reliable solution.
But even when the cloud serves its purpose well, just about every business needs professionals to manage their information technology (IT) department because computers happen to be a central part of working operations.
At this point, IT staff augmentation comes into play. Via outsourcing, businesses can add new members to their team for a temporary or prolonged period of time.
The Pros and Cons of Staff Augmentation
While IT staff augmentation might sound convenient in theory, there are still many factors you should consider before using IT staff augmentation for your business. The following is the good and the bad of IT staff augmentation.
The pros of IT staff augmentation are what you're here for in the first place. But some of the ways in which IT staff augmentation can help you aren’t obvious, so pay attention.
⁍ Guaranteed Talent
An outsourced IT partner is by definition able to fulfill your business’s needs. IT staff augmentation warrants that your new staff members are prepared to seamlessly integrate into whatever setting you need them most, increasing the power of your workforce.
As a result, they will stabilize the processes experiencing bottlenecks due to being short-staffed or under-resourced. And you can come out on the other end feeling satisfied with the effectiveness of IT staff augmentation.
⁍ Hiring Efficiency
IT staff augmentation usually relies on an outsourcing agency with trained and vetted IT professionals on hand at request. Their entire job revolves around meeting the objectives their clients set, no matter who the client is.
Looking for IT support this way is much easier than browsing dozens of job boards and filtering candidates yourself.
The cost of hiring is also not cheap, adding up to over $4000 per hire with nearly a month and a half of an empty position. With IT staff augmentation, not only do you save time, but money.
⁍ Increased Flexibility
The fact that there are so many euphemisms to describe the singular act of firing someone suggests that there is some profound meaning behind it all. That’s likely because losing a job is never fun and even the person on the other side probably isn’t having the best time either.
But in economic recessions — whether it be the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009 or the coronavirus recession starting in 2020 — mass lay-offs are no stranger. Even when businesses simply go under, maintaining staff numbers is a big concern.
However, if you allocate some percentage of your staff to always be temporary through IT staff augmentation, this prevents the unexpected from ruining the lives of permanent staff while temporary staff can find other work through their agency.
Because of such flexibility, businesses can increase and decrease their workforce as applicable, when necessary. Overall, the business will be more stable and you can take some accountability when it comes to supporting your staff.
Now that you know the pros of IT staff augmentation, it’s up to you to decide if these cons are deal-breakers or just minor inconveniences.
⁍ Quality Risk
Though outsourced teams are usually highly qualified professionals, there are still some risks that present themselves with IT staff augmentation.
For instance, if your IT project requires a high degree of context, getting your augmented staff well-acquainted with the project can be a difficult task.
Sometimes hiring a dedicated staff member can be more beneficial in this regard. Familiarity would be a prerequisite.
⁍ Time Delays
For that same reason, meeting deadlines can be a challenge. Familiarizing new staff with your project can take quite a bit of time but doing so is not optional if a quality outcome is the goal.
The time it takes for onboarding and training can push back your project, and the extra work may seem especially cumbersome if your new staff members won’t even be there for long.
Some business managers find that the management overhead for IT staff augmentation is just not worth the cost.
⁍ Long-Term Dependencies
On-going dependency to third-party providers is not sustainable. In some ways, you can undercut your own business by continuously relying on external resources to meet an end goal.
Although you are in control of your company and IT project, ultimately the outsourcing agency is in control of your staff. If something unexpected happens to your augmented staff or their outsourcing agency, you’ll be left vulnerable.
In the short term, it makes a lot of sense for SMBs and start-ups to use IT staff augmentation to get their feet on the ground. But eventually, your business should be well off enough to manage its own resources.
It’s best to have some plan in place to scale internally. In the long-term, you’ll be better off.
The 3 Types of Staff Augmentation
Your staff augmentation model can vary depending on your exact needs. There are three principal types of staff augmentation: commodity, skill-based, and highly-skilled.
Staff augmentation by way of commodity does not call for specific specializations. The circumstances for this staff augmentation model lean more towards urgency than honing certain skills.
Therefore, this type of staff augmentation may involve manual labor, factory work, or retail, among other things.
Skill-based staff augmentation requires — unsurprisingly — a bit more skill. Still, the level of skill for this type of staff augmentation is not demanding.
Typing or data entry for clerical work are a few examples of what skill-based staff augmentation might look like.
Last but not least, there is highly-skilled staff augmentation. And it just so happens that this is probably exactly the type of staff augmentation that you need.
Highly-skilled outsourced partners work in professions like IT or software development. Training and experience for these professions are essentials and IT staff augmentation makes no excuses for lapses in those areas.
How To Augment Your Team Successfully
There are several steps you should take to augment your team successfully. Like the scientific process, the IT augmentation process should be careful and precise.
Identify the Problem
First and foremost, you should identify the problem. Ask yourself questions like, “What does my business need?” or “What is my business lacking?”
You can also ask your permanent staff for their input. Of all people, they have a pretty good understanding of where and how your business thrives and fails.
Specify Your Needs
Once you identify your problem you can specify your needs in several different ways, all of which are important. Here are a few of the different needs you should specify:
- Do you want your staff augmentation to be short-term or long-term?
- Is your staff augmentation commodity, skill-based, or highly-skilled?
- How many new people do you need for your IT staff augmentation?
Research Staff Augmentation Agencies
Look closely at the IT staff augmentation market before deciding what outsourcing agency to use. Figure out what you want and make that the pivot point for all your searches.
And don’t just go for the lowest price tag. The costs should be reasonable but always keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
Nearshore and offshore outsourcing provide different benefits and disadvantages. Weigh the pros and cons and make a sensible decision.
In the end, it will be a give and take based on what your business demands at the time.
Narrow Down Your Choices
Review and if possible, test your candidates’ skill set. In addition, you want to ensure your augmented staff have the soft skills to work well and collaborate effectively with your team.
Take a call with your potential providers and make sure there is good rapport. You don’t want to hire someone that doesn’t play well with others.
Negotiate With Your Chosen Partner
A negotiation of sorts should take place in order for you to learn all the details of your contract with your chosen IT staff augmentation agency.
You should not feel manipulated by the people you work with. Don’t be afraid to be honest about what you want, but also be rational about your requests.
Sign a Contract
Finally, you can cross your ‘t’s and dot your ‘i’s. Sign your John Hancock on a mutually agreeable contract between you and your new IT staff augmentation partner.
When Is Staff Augmentation Recommended?
IT staff recommendation is recommended for people who want the best of both worlds. The traditional model of outsourcing people are generally familiar with involves outsourcing your whole company to what at the time may feel like a strange and foreign agency.
Yet with staff augmentation, you and other business managers can get a feel with the people you are working with, as agencies for IT staff augmentation — and likely other forms of highly-skilled staff augmentation — will lend you a few choice professionals at a time who will be sure to integrate smoothly into your team and projects.
Because of this flexibility, the idea of hiring specialists seems a lot less resource-consuming if you’re utilizing IT staff augmentation. It can also be a short-term solution to resolve otherwise ongoing issues.
IT staff augmentation is an intricate, well-oiled process that could be a bonafide answer to all the questions you’ve been asking about getting your startup up and running or your small business steady on the ground.
If you want highly-skilled IT staff augmentation, then Trio is the right place to look.
Trio developers take a special niche within the IT industry. They don’t work directly on the machinery of computers. However, they can make the application you need to take your business to the next level.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Staff augmentation is a means of responding to business needs by extracting specialized skill sets via outsourcing.
The different types of staff augmentation include commodity, skill-based, and highly-skilled.
IT staff recommendation is recommended for people who want the best of both worlds.