There is a growing market for staff augmentation, with the industry expected to hit $82B BY 2025. What does it mean, and how can you use this approach to level up your company? We’re so glad you asked!
What is staff augmentation?
Staff augmentation is a hiring approach used to quickly expand an in-house team by adding one or more specialists to the crew. To understand why companies choose this model, let’s take an example scenario, and then compare staff augmentation to a few other alternatives.
Brent is a manager who is tasked with getting a product to launch. He has a limited number of software engineers and product managers, and he has been told that the deadline is non-negotiable for 12 months’ time. He’s also aware of some missing skills and key competencies which will be necessary to get the project over the line.
Brent knows that he needs to expand the team, and he has some varied options to consider:
Considering hiring in-house
Brent could start the process of hiring full-time employees to launch the new product. However, the average time to hire is estimated to be 60 days, which means Brent will be two months into the deadline by the time the candidates have signed their contracts.
Not only that, but this is a one-off product launch, and Brent isn’t sure he will need full-time staff once the launch is complete.
Speeding past the idea of outsourcing
Brent briefly considers outsourcing, either to independent contractors or to an agency of some kind. However, he knows that the staff will need to work closely with his internal team, using the same processes and tools, and be available according to the teams’ schedule.
When you utilize outsourcing, you need to cede a lot of control, so it isn’t going to work here. Brent is actually happy this approach doesn’t suit, because he also knows outsourced talent can be inconsistent, and he’s looking for highly skilled workers who can hit the ground running.
Striking off managed services
For similar reasons, Brent quickly crosses Managed Services off his list. With Managed Services, a third-party provider takes a project off the company’s hands altogether, which isn’t relevant here.
Brent has an existing team of skilled staff, and needs extra hands on deck to help get an internal project over the line on time and to budget. He doesn’t want to outsource a critical product launch to anyone else.
Landing on staff augmentation
After crossing the other options off his list, Brent considers staff augmentation. He already knows the company considered staff augmentation in the past, when the Marketing team needed an extra designer to help tweak the last minute design for the new website.
In that case, it didn’t work, as the ramp up time to get a designer up to speed on internal tools and processes was too long when launch day was just weeks away.
However, Brent needs to onboard staff for at least 12 months, and he knows that staff augmentation is a great fit for short term projects of a few months, up to longer term roles of 2 years.
Brent quickly draws up a checklist:
- A need for staff who will work alongside an existing team ✅
- The ability to train and work on our tools and systems, and with our processes ✅
- A quick start, without a long hiring process if possible ✅
- Close monitoring of work, productivity levels and output ✅
- Highly skilled talent with a proven track record ✅
Staff augmentation is the only model that checks all of the company’s boxes, and feels like a great fit.
The growth of staff augmentation
Due to IT skills gaps, and the fast-paced nature of change in technology needs, staff augmentation started in the IT industry. However, it’s quickly spreading its wings and making its mark across many different verticals and teams.
The main reason for its growth is the ease of knowing that all of your staff are working according to the same processes and tools. This reduces security risks, adds visibility and control, and puts everyone on the same page.
You can see in this graph from the Deloitte Human Capital Trends report how prevalent staff augmentation is becoming, across a wide range of departments.
Today, you can find use cases for staff augmentation across many different skill levels and job types.
For example, commodity-based staff augmentation will involve finding reliable workers who have the availability to augment the capacity of your team, but they will not need to be highly skilled or have niche areas of knowledge. This could be adding workers to your warehouse team over the holiday season for example, or scaling up staff to perform manual labor during a conference tour or event.
Skill-based staff augmentation will vary in terms of how much expertise workers need to have. You could use staff augmentation to add team members who are experienced with data processing or clerical work, especially if it’s of a sensitive nature and you need to know they will be using your internal tools to keep data private and secure.
On the other end of the spectrum, staff augmentation can be used for highly skilled roles such as legal consultation, software engineering, cloud architecture, or brand design. These will require you to augment your team with staff who have years of experience, and often specific education, too.
Doing staff augmentation right
To succeed with staff augmentation, you need to have a process in place which will be different from hiring in-house or outsourcing to independent contractors. We will leave you with a few quick questions to consider:
- How are you going to find the right talent, those with the skills you need and proven experience?
- Have you codified an onboarding plan that gets augmented staff up to speed and working with your systems and tools as quickly as possible?
- What documents do you need to collect, and does Legal have any steps you need to complete before they can begin?
- What rules and responsibilities will you define between your business and augmented staff, and how do they differ from your relationship with employees? This could be anything from payment terms, to benefits or working hours.