A Guide to IT Staff Augmentation

Entrepreneurship IT Staff Augmentation
A Guide to IT Staff Augmentation

What Is IT Staff Augmentation?

As modern business relies more and more on technology, software solutions and new technologies are becoming the world’s most valuable assets.

However, these assets aren’t easy to create and maintain. They require enormous amounts of effort from highly-skilled individuals, such as software engineers and software developers. That makes these experts exceptionally sought-after, as there are always more development projects than developers who can carry them out.

In fact, this shortage is so pronounced that as many as 40 million software development jobs went unfulfilled globally in 2022 due to a lack of skilled workers.

In addition to that, the recent Tech Downturn has resulted in 150,000 layoffs and decreased the tech sector’s ability to hire new talent until the economic forecast improves.

So not only is exceptional IT talent extremely difficult to find, but hiring and retaining it has become exceedingly risky for companies who, nevertheless, need to carry on with business as usual and achieve their business objectives.

A possible solution to this conundrum is IT staff augmentation, a relatively new model of service that allows IT companies to quickly and effectively enlarge their in-house teams with top-tier experts without having to take on the effort, or the risk, of direct employment.

The unique value of the staff augmentation model lies in the fact that the experts you source in this way will integrate seamlessly into your in-house development team instead of working as external consultants and will be managed by your staff as fully-fledged employees.

However, they’ll be recruited, salaried, nurtured, and retained by your staff augmentation partner, allowing you to focus on what’s really important for your core business: developing your products and getting them to market.

Taking into account the enormous value staff augmentation can bring to IT companies, it’s no surprise that this type of alternative staffing solution is slowly becoming the norm in the industry.

Indeed, a third of IT companies report using alternative workforce solutions, such as staff augmentation, extensively on long-term projects and another third say they use it on occasion.

The Average Cost of Sourcing an IT Expert - 1

Illustration: Newfire Global Partners / Data: Deloitte

The bottom line is that IT staff augmentation can help and empower your company to pursue your software development projects confidently and without risk, which explains its growing popularity, maybe even necessity, in the IT sector.

How Is IT Staff Augmentation Different From Other Types of Outsourcing?

Using staffing partners, enlisting external help on projects, working around direct hiring – none of these concepts are new to IT companies that don’t do all of their work in-house. So how is staff augmentation actually different from other outsourcing models?

To find out, let’s compare staff augmentation to other types of outsourcing.


IT Staff Augmentation vs Dedicated Teams

In both of these cases, your team receives reinforcements from a staffing partner to take on work on a specific project. However, the difference lies in how these reinforcements are managed. 

In the case of dedicated teams, the staffing partner is responsible for managing and supervising the outsourced experts. Conversely, the augmented team is under the complete control of the client.

So, if you were to opt for staff augmentation, for example, salary considerations, workload, and deadlines, among other aspects, would remain your sole prerogative. That means this model gives you more control over your project.


IT Staff Augmentation vs Outsourcing

In general terms, staff augmentation can be thought of as a type of outsourcing (as can the other models we’re discussing here). But in a more narrow sense, outsourcing usually refers to an isolated team of experts that take on a segment of the project (or even a full product to develop) and carry out the work independently.

For example, let’s say you’re developing a software solution for early cancer detection. Your project is carried out by an in-house team of engineers, but you need a website to promote the product, find users, and recruit talent. In that case, a good way to move forward would be to outsource the creation of this website to an external web development agency.

Staff augmentation wouldn’t be of much help here because web development is a separate activity (albeit still IT-related) from what your team is doing.


IT Staff Augmentation vs Independent Contractors

There are a couple of advantages to hiring independent contractors (or freelancers). They are usually less costly than other models mentioned here, and they can act independently as outside experts recruited for project segments you need done.

However, therein lies the problem. Recruiting freelancers isn’t much easier than finding quality staff members, meaning you’d still need to go through the hiring process, which you’re trying to avoid.

It’s also more difficult to verify an independent contractor’s reputation, meaning hiring them might come at considerable risk for your company. On the other hand, with augmentation services, you’re working with an established company whose reputation is easy to check and which comes with specific arrangements for confidentiality, security, and other risk-related project elements.

All in all, there’s an outsourcing model for every need in the IT industry. Staff augmentation is the best solution when you want to add experts to your team as quickly as possible, keep the project under your control, and de-risk your operations.

When to Use The Staff Augmentation Service

We realize that filling in the gaps with external IT experts isn’t the easiest call to make. Furthermore, staff augmentation isn’t necessarily the best solution for any set of business needs.

However, there are a couple of indicators you can use to make your decision to implement staff augmentation easier. We’ll examine what they are in the following subsections.


IT Is Not Your Primary Field

If you’re trying to develop a software solution or technology, but your company doesn’t operate primarily in the IT industry, it can be difficult to find the right team of developers to carry out the project, even if you have a dedicated recruitment team because your recruitment specialists aren’t trained to source and vet IT staff.

Partnering up with a staff augmentation vendor can be a solution in such situations because these companies usually have ready-to-deploy IT personnel on staff. And if not, they definitely have specialized recruiters who can find ideal candidates.

For example, Newfire Global Partners has extensive experience in working with digital health companies, as well as major players in education, fintech, and the video game industry – partners who are firmly rooted in their own sectors but still have a need to develop and deploy technological solutions.


You Need Niche/Rare Experts

To build on our previous point, staff augmentation providers usually have a skilled recruitment team that specializes in sourcing even the rarest types of IT experts from around the world. Therefore, if your project requires a niche specialist with a specific skill set and you don’t have the time or resources to track one down, a staff augmentation partner could help you overcome this obstacle.

They’re perfectly equipped not only to source such an expert but to find tech talent with experience in the type of project you’re working on and to ensure a cultural fit with your in-house team.

Here’s an example of how Newfire’s recruitment specialists source the perfect expert in the shortest amount of time possible:

And let’s not forget: your new specialist will be employed with your staff augmentation partner, meaning you won’t have to worry about taking on a new full-time employee or retaining them after the project is complete.


You Need to Ramp Up/Pivot/Expand Your Services

Finding the right experts to boot up projects or expand your teams when demand is high can take an enormous amount of time. Because of this delay, you may see opportunities pass you by.

But what if you could deploy a team to work on new projects as soon as they take shape? What if you were able to expand your team quickly whenever there’s increased demand for your services?

Well, with staff augmentation, you can do all of that and more. Here’s an example to prove it.

Buoy Health is an AI health assistant that enables users to input their symptoms and advises the next steps on how to approach care.

As you can imagine, this very useful app saw a sharp increase in demand during the Covid pandemic. 

That’s when Buoy reached out to Newfire Global Partners. In collaboration with the client, Newfire developed agile processes and solved architectural problems that helped Buoy Health stay on top of demand, even in the midst of a pandemic. Newfire also contributed by building a user flow algorithm and a contact tracing system that brought accurate answers to users when they needed them the most.

That’s just one example of how highly-skilled staff augmentation can give a boost to your projects with very little ramp-up time.

To sum up, while not every IT staff needs to be augmented, companies working on technology or software projects that need highly-skilled staff and the ability to boot up, pivot, or expand in very little time will definitely find value in this service.

Top Benefits of IT Staff Augmentation

As we have already established, the IT sector is becoming increasingly dependent on alternative labor resources, staff augmentation among them. It’s clear, then, that staff augmentation gives companies an advantage over their competitors.

How much of an advantage? We’re about to find out as we delve into the top benefits of IT staff augmentation, starting with:


Cost Cutting

Can opting for staff augmentation cut costs for your company and result in financial savings? The answer is a resounding yes, but not in the way you might think.

The salary and benefits enjoyed by your outsourced team will be paid by your company for the hours these experts spend on your projects indirectly (your partner will bill you for their services and pay your augmented staff). That means you won’t be able to pay augmented staff less than your full-time employees.

The real savings will come from sourcing these experts. Remember, staff augmentation companies have considerable resources at their disposal when it comes to finding the right experts, and in many cases, these experts will already be a part of your partner’s in-house team.

In other words, you’ll skip the painstaking and, these days, extremely costly process of recruiting the right tech talent for your team. Have a look at the figures below to understand the true costs of hiring IT developers and engineers:

Now imagine your project needs to include ten senior engineers and you’ll see how quickly those costs can add up to spell doom for your project. That is if you’re not delegating expert sourcing to your staff augmentation partner.


Access to Top-Level Talent

Even if you take this path of greater resistance, there’s still a chance that your new team member won’t be completely aligned with your project. Their experience might be tied to a different industry, or their seniority level might not be what you hoped for, or the culture fit with the rest of your team might just be off.

In those circumstances, you could risk going forward with an inadequate team, or you may even decide to repeat the recruitment process, creating even more costs and time delays.

On the other hand, staff augmentation companies are specialized in sourcing top-tier talent and ensuring a maximum project and culture fit for their clients.

This level of talent access provides stability for your projects because you’re putting them in the hands of the most capable people. It also de-risks your operations because you’re reducing the likelihood of your project falling behind or derailing because of staffing problems.


Complete Control Over Your Team and Projects

With many other types of outsourced work, you’re essentially handing the reins to someone outside the company and accepting reduced control over the work while maintaining full responsibility.

But with augmentation, your incoming staff member reports to your managers and executives. Project responsibilities, workloads, and chain of command are all in your domain, and you retain full control over how the work progresses.

On top of that, you’re not responsible for your remote team members as an employer because your augmented staff is employed with your staffing vendor. That gives you more freedom to experiment and pivot without putting your team at risk.

Have you noticed that a team member isn’t the best fit for the project? You can easily replace them. Have you come to the decision to abandon a project because it’s become infeasible? You can release the entire team and they will be put on one of your outsourcing partner’s other projects.

This way, staff augmentation puts control over your projects squarely in your hands and allows you to develop and manage them with confidence.

The key benefits of staff augmentation are reduced costs, better access to talent, and easier management of your projects. The interplay between these advantages results in increased project quality, faster delivery times, and unparalleled growth for your organization.

Key Considerations for Choosing the Right Partner

Now that we’ve established the key concepts, common scenarios, and pros of IT staff augmentation, you must be eager to start looking for a staff augmentation partner for your own IT projects.

That’s great and we want to help. So, here are some of the most important considerations for companies seeking to augment their teams with external IT experts.

First, it’s a good idea to research your potential partners and find out what kind of experience they have working on projects in your domain and the reputation they enjoy as an outsourcing company.

A good place to start is reviewing case studies the company might have as well as reviews from previous and current clients.

This should provide insight into how your potential partner approaches projects and if their experience is relevant to your needs.

You can also take a deeper dive and find out if the company you’re interested in has received any rewards or industry recognition to establish its bona fides. 

Better yet, you can check with your industry colleagues whether they’ve used staff augmentation services and if they were satisfied with their provider. Like we said, this model is becoming the norm in many industries, so chances are you’ll be able to gather some valuable data this way.

Another key consideration is where your augmented specialists will hail from. Does your potential partner operate a global team? This is important because it can pave the way for some major savings down the road. As you surely already know, IT experts in North America fetch a much bigger price than their counterparts around the world in terms of hourly rates.

Here’s a comparison to clarify this distinction:

Comparing Developer Rates around the World

Illustration: Newfire Global Partners / Data: Softermii

But it’s not just about cutting costs. Experts from different regions come with a unique set of advantages that can help you facilitate development processes.

For example, here at Newfire, we operate a team on four continents and a variety of regions:

  • Costa Rica and Latin America: Team members in these regions are in the same time zones as our North American clients, which allows for synchronous project work.
  • Asia-Pacific: The time difference between Asia and North America allows our colleagues in this region to provide round-the-clock service and support for U.S. based clients.
  • Croatia: EU-level quality developers with a very high English language proficiency.
  • Ukraine: Boasts one of the largest IT talent pools in Europe with broad expertise in technologies and software.

In these ways, a partner with a global workforce can help you cut costs on your projects without sacrificing delivery times or project quality.

Finally, it should go without saying that a happy workforce is a productive workforce, so make sure you’re working with a partner that has an exceptionally strong HR department and a comprehensive package of benefits for the experts you’ll be working with.

Here at Newfire, we’ve found an optimal work-life balance for our team members to make employee retention easier and to ensure our engineers can do their best work. Here are some of the benefits we offer:

  • Career development: Includes personalized career planning, mentorship programs, education budgets, and free English classes.
  • Work flexibility: We have a work-from-anywhere policy, cozy offices, control over work scheduling, and no time tracking.
  • Wellbeing: We offer medical insurance, gym memberships (where applicable), and generous PTO.

We also consider ourselves a culture-first company and our HR specialists are always hard at work organizing team-building events and opportunities to come together as a community.

Remember, the happier your external team members are, the more quality work they’ll do for you, and the less likely it is they’ll leave the project in search of better opportunities. So pick a partner that focuses on nurturing a satisfied and productive workforce.

With a reputable staff augmentation partner that operates globally and takes good care of its engineers, nothing will stand in your way as you develop tomorrow’s technologies and software to change the face of your industry.

Augment Your Staff With Newfire’s Top Talent

In conclusion, it’s clear that IT staff augmentation is a powerful model of collaboration we’re sure to see more of in the future. And with the many benefits it offers, as well as its power to circumvent today’s labor market limitations, it’s hardly surprising it’s becoming the norm in software development.

But not just any staff augmentation partner will do the trick, and companies should look for perfect alignment with regard to industry experience, staff quality, and ease of operations.

The leadership at Newfire has dedicated their careers to developing disruptive technologies in a variety of sectors. For the last seven years, we’ve been providing leaders in healthcare, education, fintech, and other industries with the best IT experts in the world to enhance their projects and help them grow. So get in touch today and let’s accelerate your projects tomorrow.

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