What is staff augmentation?

Author:
Managing partner at Uvik Software

Staff augmentation is a flexible way to hire skilled IT resources from outside your company and manage them as part of your internal IT team. These resources are employed directly by a staff augmentation vendor, thus eliminating the cost and hassle of hiring full-time staff members.

Offshore and nearshore staff augmentation services enable you to tap into the global talent pool and quickly get access to the right expertise if there is a shortage of IT professionals in your area. You can hire qualified professionals to work for you remotely from across the world, usually at lower prices than hiring locally.

IT staff augmentation can be a lifesaver in a wide variety of situations. Below are some of the most common that call for a staff augmentation model.

  • Rapidly growing project

    Your project is growing rapidly, and there’s an urgent need for extra specialized staff to handle the increased workload.

  • Urgent tasks

    You want to develop a different component of your product or a new urgent task takes priority and you need extra resources to ensure that your project doesn't stall.

  • Lack of skills

    Your project requires specific skills your current team doesn't have, or you need to implement a new technology that your team isn't familiar with.

  • Temporary skill gap

    One of your key employees has announced plans for an extended period of absence, such as a childcare leave, a sick leave, or a sabbatical, and you need help covering a temporary skill gap.

  • Remote workforce

    You want to communicate with your team directly on a regular basis and you want your remote developers to feel like part of your local team.

  • Tight budget

    You're under tight budget constraints or you need to cut down on project costs. Augmenting your team with offshore development experts can help you dramatically reduce your project’s expenses and help you save up on the recruiting, training, and staff management.

Why is staff augmentation so popular in software development?

For starters, let's take a look at some of the reasons why staff augmentation is so common in the IT industry, and why it may be the solution you’ve been looking for.

  • Time-bound projects with tight deadlines

    Time is of the essence when it comes to software development. There are always-looming deadlines, shifting priorities, and constant pressure to produce more in less time. This is probably why the job turnover rate for tech, and software, in particular, is now the highest of any industry.

  • The increased cost of acquiring tech talent

    The demand for software is growing faster than the job market can keep up with. The rise in demand forces IT, employers, to offer higher salaries and improved employee packages in a bid to attract and retain the best available talent.

    When you’re not looking to hire additional staff permanently, staff augmentation saves you the cost of paying full-time salaries along with benefits, training, taxes, workspace expenses, and other expenditures associated with having people on the payroll.

  • Long hiring cycles

    According to Glassdoor data from 2017, it takes an average of 40.8 days to hire a software development engineer in the US. When you have an urgent need to fill empty positions at your company, a long hiring process can be a waste of your company's time, money, and effort. To be a winner in today's turbulent markets, you need to get the best talent on your team and need to do it as effectively and efficiently as possible.

    Staff augmentation helps you grow your organization quickly while staying flexible about the size and structure of your teams. You don’t have to go through the lengthy process of finding, interviewing, hiring, and training new staff. Moreover, staff augmentation makes it much easier to scale your IT team up or down when you need it.

  • The lack of specific skill sets

    There is an increasing talent gap in the market, especially when it comes to finding skills in the latest technologies. Many IT companies struggle to attract employees. Moreover, as the war for talent continues and turnover rates go up, companies often struggle to retain their top talent.

    Staff augmentation gives businesses an opportunity to add additional temporary resources to their internal teams based on the extra skills required to meet a specific business goal. This includes access to rare skills that are hard to find locally or within tight time constraints.

  • The pros & cons of staff augmentation

    Just like all other hiring options, the staff augmentation model comes with its own list of pros and cons to weigh. Below, we list the benefits and challenges of staff augmentation to help you determine whether it’s the right model for your needs.

Benefits of staff augmentation

There are numerous benefits you can reap with the right staff augmentation contractor. Here’s how it can benefit your business.

  • Staff augmentation allows you to bring in expertise on a scalable, per-project basis

    Staff augmentation allows companies to adjust their teams on a per-project basis, enabling them to quickly respond to new challenges and opportunities. You can hire staff for as long as you need, as well as adjust capacity or scale your augmented team up and down whenever you need to.

  • Save costs compared to hiring in-house

    Staff augmentation minimizes the cost of hiring and the potential liabilities associated with in-house employees. It is a great option for businesses that need top-tier talent with the right expertise for the job, but don't want to spend resources on recruiting, training, and retaining that talent themselves.

  • Increase or decrease the workforce on demand

    Staff augmentation gives businesses the flexibility to quickly respond to rapid changes in the market and exploit new opportunities for growth. Businesses can easily upsize or downsize the team and deploy specialized talent when they need it, without having to worry about employee turnover or project delivery speed.

  • Avoid the risks of wrong hires

    Staff augmentation facilitates the challenge of recruiting, managing and assessing skilled employees on-demand. You can tap into the vendor’s resource pool and get candidates whose experience and expertise are already known to match your needs, rather than spend weeks of time looking for the right team member. Staff augmentation also reduces the risk of hiring an employee that wouldn't fit and would need to be replaced later on at a significant cost.

Drawbacks of the staff augmentation model

Every hiring model has its drawbacks, and staff augmentation is no exception. Here are some of the challenges associated with staff augmentation — and how you can turn them into benefits.

The risk of poor cultural fit

Augmented staff may not always fit in with your company’s existing culture and working procedures. There’s always a learning curve before your contractors become fully familiar with the workflow. This is why it’s important to hire people who share your company’s values and appreciate your working style.

When you hire remote specialists from UVIK, you’re free to hand-pick the members of your augmented team yourself. You can conduct as many personal interviews as you need to test your potential team members and see if their personality and skills are a good match for your business.

Not the best fit for long-term projects

Outstaffing vendors must add overhead and margin to their direct labor costs. In the short-term, this increased cost is offset by the reduced costs of hiring and turnover, as well as decreased administrative expenses. However, when used as a long-term solution, staff augmentation may turn out to be less cost-effective or even more expensive than outsourcing or hiring in-house. Another important risk to consider is the potential loss of knowledge control. Your augmented team will accumulate knowledge and skills that may be essential for your organization. Without contracted service commitment or proper documentation, chances are you’ll end up losing a lot of important information if your remote staff leaves the team.

At UVIK, we’re proud to say many of our clients have stayed with us for years since we started in 2016. We’re committed to a long-lasting cooperation and the value we bring to their projects and businesses. You or your project manager can control task completion, while we take care of the rest, including payroll, talent management, and workplace. Our account managers will stay in touch with you at all times, making sure your remote developers have all the tools and infrastructure they need to work on your tasks — at no added cost.

The need to rely on the service provider

In the staff augmentation model, remote staff members are employed by an outside service provider. It can take some time to find the right staff augmentation agency offering the right skill set for your project. Moreover, it’s worth remembering that your augmented team members are primarily committed to their direct employers. If you decide to terminate the contract with your outsourcing vendor or a team member assigned to the project decides to leave their job, you may need to start over again with new people. Hence, you may end up spending more time and money rearranging things.

At UVIK, we start with understanding your project requirements and quickly integrate ourselves with your team to get the job done. Most of our employees have stayed and grown with UVIK for over 5 years. We know how important it is to maintain long-lasting relationships with your remote team members, and we take special care to retain each talent you hire with us. And in the rare case when you’re not satisfied with the recruited professional, UVIK will find a substitute without charging any fees for the replacement.

The added complexity of working across time zones

Different time zones may become one of the major challenges with an offshore development team. It is better to schedule meetings, planning sessions, and reviews for overlapping business hours between time zones when both your in-house and remote offshore teams are up and working.

With UVIK, you can take advantage of the convenient UTC+2 (EET) time zone, which makes Ukraine a great destination for both offshore and nearshore staff augmentation. We’re 7 hours ahead of the Eastern Time, 10 hours ahead of the Pacific Time, and just 1–2 hours ahead of most European countries. Our developers are available 8 AM to 8 PM EET, so it will be easy for you to stay in touch with your Ukrainian engineers and receive timely updates on your project’s progress, no matter where you are in the world. Should the need be, we can adjust the working schedule of your augmented team to have more overlapping working hours with your on-site staff.

Management challenges

Staff augmentation often comes with added costs for management overheads. You may need extra time and resources to supervise the increased number of people in your team. Some staff augmentation vendors may offer you to hire their project managers alongside the remote development team. Either way, it’s important that you have sufficient insight into what your augmented staff is doing and stay updated about each task in the process. If you lack relevant management expertise or your internal management processes happen to have flaws, the staff augmentation resources will be affected as well.

At UVIK, we make every effort to ensure seamless collaborations at all stages. We connect you directly with your remote developers and let you manage your augmented team yourself, without any intermediaries. Our experts will adapt to your management approach and you will have full control over each step of the development process, with regular standups, code reviews, and retrospectives.

Who provides software development services?

Staff augmentation isn’t the only option for offshoring/nearshoring your development. If you feel that the staff augmentation model doesn’t fit you for some reason, consider the following other ways to source remote development talent.

IT staffing agencies

Staffing agencies handle the work of finding qualified in-house workers on behalf of a company, or appropriate positions for a candidate looking for a job. As a rule, IT staffing agencies focus on finding the right technical fit for a particular industry or type of work, based on the requirements set forth by a company. In some cases, a staffing agency may also assist in salary negotiations, interviews, and paperwork.

Gig platforms

Gig platforms such as Freelancer, Upwork or Guru connect clients and freelancers for a commission fee, providing quick access to software engineers from around the globe. You can hire freelance software engineers on an hourly or fixed-price rate. As a rule, clients and freelancers are able to leave reviews about their experience working with one another. This helps users set the right expectations before any project begins, but aside from that, there is no guarantee to the quality of work produced.

On-demand talent platforms

With on-demand talent platforms such as Toptal, businesses can hire specialists from a pool of previously vetted freelancers with niche skills in a selection of industries. Besides the vetting process, businesses can also take advantage of faster talent-matching for their personal business requirements. However, talent platforms are often criticized for their intransparent pricing and lack the after-hire support clients often need.

Independent contractors

An independent contractor is an individual, business, or corporation providing IT services under a contract or a verbal agreement. Independent contractors often work as freelancers, but they typically engage with one client for a longer time frame.

Boutique software consulting firms

Boutique software development companies such as UVIK focus on providing high-quality niche services to a small number of clients. As a rule, these are small, industry-focused companies with deep specialized expertise, experience, and technical know-how to handle complex projects in specific areas and/or industries. Boutique software development companies aim to establish strong, trustful relationships with their clients and commit themselves to the clients’ success. For these reasons, they’re believed to be the most trustworthy and efficient service providers in the software outsourcing industry.

Software outsourcing vendors

“IT software outsourcing” is an umbrella term covering multiple practices of contracting work to an outside party. That said, companies presenting themselves as “outsourcing agencies” are often larger companies offering multiple sourcing models to corporations and smaller companies alike. As a rule, their developers will work separately from your company, and won’t be directly involved with the rest of your internal development activities.

Captive IT offshore centers

If you’re looking to deploy a large team of professionals to work for you on a long-term basis, a viable solution would be to establish your own offshore R&D center in a country with a more favorable business environment and wider tech talent pool. Opening a remote R&D center from scratch in another country means you’ll need to delve into the legal system of the country, learn its cultural specifics, and take on all associated risks and expenses. However, having a full-fledged team working exclusively for you will almost certainly pan out well in the long run.

What’s the difference between staff augmentation, managed team services, project outsourcing, and independent contractors?

Now that you know the market of software development better, let’s see how different service providers compare to staff augmentation.

Staff augmentation vs managed team services

A managed team, also known as the dedicated development team model, falls somewhere between staff augmentation and a fully outsourced approach. Much like with the staff augmentation model, your managed team is 100% dedicated to you and your project. The difference is that you and your managed team share the risks and responsibility for the scope, responsibilities, timelines, deliverables, and service levels associated with your project. The dedicated team works independently of your internal team and has its own outsourced project manager who oversees the team’s daily processes and reports to you or your in-house project managers.

The managed team model is sometimes confused with the managed services approach, a type of outsourcing where you delegate full responsibility and control over the project to a service provider, at a predetermined fee. Managed services is a great model if a company needs long-term external assistance with recurring tasks.

Staff augmentation vs outsourcing

The main difference between staff augmentation and project outsourcing is that with staff augmentation, you have direct control over your team, while with outsourcing, you pass the responsibility for the project to another company. The outsourcing model is results-centric, meaning that the service provider is fully responsible for implementation, maintenance, deliverables, and any other tasks that have been agreed upon beforehand. The main risk of outsourcing is that you pass management control over the project to a third party. As such, the success of your project may rest on your ability to find a quality service provider.

Staff augmentation vs independent contractors

As a rule, independent contractors work to deliver a complete service or system to solve a clearly defined problem. The contractor decides on how to deliver results within the deadlines agreed upon in the scope-of-work (SOW) contract, and the original organization does not control the work process. Independent contractors are self-employed entities, they are responsible for their own taxes and workplace. Some specialized agencies may also offer you a direct-hire service where you can recruit a special contractor directly into your company. This is similar to staff augmentation, except you get a single individual to help fill a company’s specific needs in the long-run.

Below, we’ve put together a table to help you understand the specific features of different hiring models.

 

Staff augmentation vendors In-house developers Managed team service providers Outsourcing vendors Freelancers & Contractors Own R&D center
Team Selected by the client from among the service provider’s employees Permanent on-site hires employed directly by the client Selected by the provider and managed by the client Selected by the service provider Self-employed individuals or entities providing work or services to an organization under direct contract Dedicated remote team recruited exclusively by the organization
Location Onshore

Offshore

Nearshore

On-site Onshore

Offshore

Nearshore

Onshore

Offshore

Nearshore

Onshore

Offshore

Nearshore

Offshore

Nearshore

Scope Estimated based on the task or project Determined exclusively by the organization. Result-centric; based on the scope of the project Project-based; predefined by the organization Defined by the SOW agreement or other contracts Determined exclusively by the organization
Team scalability High Low Medium to High High High Low
Flexibility High Low Medium High Low Low to Medium
Client involvement Required Required Medium Low Low Required
Overlap with in-house teams High High Medium to High None None Medium to High
Technology selection Client Client Service provider Service provider Service provider Client
Task management & project management Client Client Business requirements provided by the client; software requirements managed by the service provider Service provider Service provider Client
Workflow development & supervision Client Client Service provider Service provider Service provider Client
Workplace & HR Service provider Client Service provider Service provider Service provider Client
Payroll Service provider Client Service provider Service provider Service provider Client

 

How do you choose the right model?

With that much information, it might be hard to make the right choice. Here are some hints on when to choose each of the software development models.

You need staff augmentation when:

You have an in-house development team, but you need an extra boost of talent for a specific project. This may mean bringing in new specific skills or simply speeding up your development timelines. With that, you want to maintain control over the development process, and you have sufficient management resources and experience to manage your extended team.

You need managed team services when:

You want to remain centrally involved and retain decision-making control over your project, but you lack technical expertise in the desired area and you don’t want to manage a remote team on a day-to-day basis.

You need project outsourcing when:

You have an idea of what results you want to achieve, but you don’t know how to get there. Your company doesn’t have a development team or resources for the specific task, and you can afford to entrust development processes and management to a service provider.

You need an independent contractor when:

You clearly understand your needs and goals and you simply need an extra set of skilled hands to get the job done.

How to make the most out of team augmentation

IT staff augmentation has many benefits, including reduced operational costs, quick access to the latest technologies, and the flexibility to scale. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your staff augmentation resources.

1. Ensure clear communication

Communication is key to the success of every development project, particularly those with remote workers. A study conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) revealed that at least one out of five projects fails to meet its original goals, deadlines, and business intent due to ineffective communications.

When hiring offshore software engineers, it is essential that you establish clear and consistent communication practices for everyone involved in the project, including both in-house and remote teams. Make sure to check in with both teams on a regular basis and quickly address any concerns that may arise.

Another thing to keep in mind is that hiring offshore professionals will bring a more diverse workforce. It is important to create a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas, experiences, and knowledge. This will help your teams create a shared vision of your project and increase productivity throughout the project.

When you hire offshore software developers from UVIK, we start with understanding your business and your processes before selecting candidates for the job. You can personally interview all prospects to see if their personality and skills are a match for your business. All our employees speak fluent English and share the same get-up-and-go attitude towards deadlines and goals.

2. Establish clear roles and work processes

Clearly defined roles and workflows make it easier to coordinate your teams’ activities. An effective staff augmentation model demands that both internal and remote developers understand their specific tasks and how they fit into the overall project. It’s you who knows your project like no one else, and it’s up to you to need to set out clear expectations for everyone involved in the project.

When you hire remote developers from UVIK, you have full control over your augmented team and all project activities. From the very beginning, we will work with you to understand your scope, objectives, requirements and timeline. We will adapt to your management style and deliver according to your in-house standards.

Here are a few project management tips and ideas to help you manage your team effectively.

  • Define the scope of each milestone in your project development.
  • Create acceptance criteria for these milestones and how you will achieve them. 
  • Create technical specifications to explain what needs to be done and how. 
  • Perform quality assurance checks to ensure every build works as expected. 
  • Manage the delivery process to keep it in line with your time frame and budget.
  • Review and give feedback to minimize the number of back-and-forth changes and motivate your team.
  • Document your workflow to reduce ramp-up time and make it easier for augmented staff to integrate into the team.

3. Embrace Management Tools and Technologies

Today’s project management tools and technologies make it easier for teams to keep projects on track by monitoring their progress at every stage of the development lifecycle. Not only will such tools help you get the most out of your augmented team, but they will also provide you with a better picture across all development processes, systems, technologies and developers’ performance.

The developers you hire from UVIK are familiar with all popular management systems. They’ll adhere to your working and reporting procedures just as if they were working for you on-site.

4. Document your code

Software applications require constant updates and maintenance. Documenting your code is a good practice to help different developers understand each other’s code, make updates, and scale in a timely manner. Companies should make an extra effort to ensure that both in-house and augmented teams record their code at every stage of the project.

When you get an augmented development team from UVIK, you own all the code developed for your project and can use it at your own discretion.

5. Embrace flexibility

Remote teams are easier to manage if companies encourage flexibility. Embracing lean development and Agile principles enables teams to be more flexible and achieve the desired results in less time. The Standish Group 2018 Chaos Report showed that Agile projects enjoy a 60% greater chance of success than non-Agile projects. It’s also important to encourage feedback and ideas from both of your teams to identify new ways to improve efficiency.

At UVIK, we apply Agile methodologies and make sure we stay on the same page at all times with daily standups, code reviews, and retrospectives.

UVIK staff augmentation services

Our experts are ready to join your team at any stage and add resources to support project delivery within your timeline and budget. We offer you our expertise in the following areas:

How to get started

When you cooperate with UVIK, the staff augmentation process flow goes as follows:

  1. Evaluating your needs. You will work with UVIK managers to discuss the requirements for the skill set that would best serve your project. We will sign a strict NDA agreement to make sure your idea remains safe with us.
  2. Pre-selecting candidates. We’ll put together a shortlist of employees in accordance with your requirements and preferences.
  3. Interview rounds. At this stage, you can screen and interview the specialists we pre-selected for you. You can conduct as many personal interviews and test rounds as you need to find the right mix of knowledge, skills, and values for your team. The ultimate hiring decision is up to you.
  4. Getting started. We’ll work alongside your company to help new team members get into your processes as quickly as possible with all the tools and project-related knowledge they need.
  5. Ongoing support. Once onboarding is complete and the developers are fully up to speed, UVIK will provide the necessary administrative and office support for your offshore staff members. We’ll also stay in touch with you throughout the project to quickly address any issues you may have.

Why choose UVIK

1. Senior-level engineers

We are not a hiring agency. All our developers are full-time employees at UVIK who have proved their worth and commitment to our company working across a broad portfolio of projects. All the engineers you hire with us are top-tier senior experts with years of experience in the industry. They require a very short ramp-up time and can begin producing results right away. It will only take about 7 days to assemble the team for your unique situation and challenges.

2. Scale-up and down

With UVIK, you can scale your team up and down whenever you need without sacrificing time or quality. You’ll get the exact skills you’ll need as your business grows or changes.

3. Save up to 60% of costs

With UVIK developers as your augmented team, you’ll only pay for the actual hours each developer worked on your project. We give accurate time estimates and deliver results without delays and budget overruns. Having UVIK as your remote team will cost you up to 60% less than having in-house employees. Our outsourcing rates are considerably lower than those of the USA and Western Europe.

4. No administrative hassle

We also cover all overheads and administrative work — at no added cost. You won’t have to pay for interviews, infrastructure, onboarding or human resource management. It’s all on us. Our account managers will take care of tech equipment, infrastructure, onboarding, paychecks, taxes, office management, HR, retention, and all other administrative duties.

UVIK staff augmentation services

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