What are the benefits of staff augmentation?
So you’re looking to understand the benefits of staff augmentation to potentially add some flexibility to your team.
Well, you’ve landed in the right place because that’s exactly what we’re going to touch on in this article.
The idea of a staff augmentation is nothing new. Essentially leaning on a third party to provide you with the people needed to fill the gap in your current team. Ideally, some amazing people can not only help plug a leak but will overall leave the place better than they found it.
Is that wishful thinking?
We definitely don’t think so, but from talking to many of our customers it seems that it’s not the standard operating procedure. But, that’s for another article.
Are the benefits of staff augmentation worth the cost?
While at first glance, staff augmentation may seem like a higher cost. When you’re just looking at rates and comparing them to what you would pay an in-house resource, it looks disproportionately more expensive to bring on a third party.
But, when you take a step back – you’re not comparing apples to apples. You’re comparing a staff augmentation apple to a bundle of grapes. Where the apple is one complete view of cost, you pay this one fee and you get everything you see. Versus the bundle of grapes that has many smaller pieces of costs that add up very quickly such as recruitment, training etc. (I’m surprised my analogy held up there!)
As we mentioned earlier, there are a number of hidden costs that come with having full-time staff. In the long term, these make complete sense. You’re investing in your people, helping them grow, and hopefully, you’ll reap exponential returns.
But if you have a short time horizon, say less than 2 years. You’ll get better returns outsourcing the work to get through that and get the wins you need.
Let’s touch on a few costs that can come with managing full-time personnel.
It’s important to remember that recruiting new employees can be a costly and time-consuming process. The process of vetting resumes / CVs, screening, technical interviews, hiring, contract discussions etc. adds up fast! If you’re using senior staff in your organization to handle a lot of this. The hidden cost can be huge! Not just in salary, but in the opportunity cost of not having these senior resources doing the things they’re really good at! Staff augmentation can help you reduce recruitment costs by allowing you to hire personnel who have already been vetted and trained by a staffing agency. Saving not only costs, but also recruitment pains!
Training and Onboarding Costs
Once you have your chosen personnel onboard, you will be starting the process of bringing them onboard. While there’s an onboarding process with third parties. The benefit of staff augmentation onboarding is that it’s typically a much faster track.
Here’s how a typical full-time vs. staff-augmented onboarding would look:
- Meet the team and understand roles and responsibilities
- Review company policies, sign use policies etc.
- Gain access to tools, offices, repositories etc.
- Technical onboarding
- Start punching out tickets
- Orientation days or week to understand the company culture
- Walk through benefits with people & culture teams
- Discuss your bonus structure with the benefits team
- Review company policies, sign use policies, and NDAs etc.
- Meet the day-to-day team
- Meet cross-functional teams
- Meet your boss, boss’ boss, and maybe even boss’ boss’ boss
- Create a career growth plan with your manager
- Define your quarterly goals
To be honest, even that is a shortened list for a full-time person onboarding. The actual list of activities typically ends up a lot longer. So you’re looking at 2-3 weeks before you can get someone committing code.
Is it more efficient than keeping it in-house?
Another benefit of staff augmentation is increased efficiency. By augmenting your existing workforce with additional personnel, you can improve resource utilization, scalability, and performance monitoring and management.
Another key benefit of staff augmentation featured on the cereal box, is that you can move faster and more efficiently. With a staff augmentation plan, you have access to all the lego blocks in to build the team you need for the situation.
While you’re in the process of planning your initiatives for the quarter or year. You’ll likely identify constraints that will hamstring your ability to hit your goals. Can your current team tackle this new initiative? do they have the skills currently? can they learn this new technology in the timeframe I need in order to hit my OKRs? Can my team learn Terraform in the next 2 weeks so our product development team can have automated infrastructure spun up for them quickly by the end of the quarter?
This is a scenario where it makes the most sense to bring in specific personnel to tackle this issue. Sure, you can utilize the existing team and in many circumstances, this makes the most sense. As long as you can absorb the additional lead time that it will take for your team to get up to speed on the concepts and have time to practice what they’ve learned.
The benefit of staff augmentation in this is that you can have someone in to unblock the first constraint and ideally also use them to up-skill your team. Setting them up for future initiatives and to support the new infrastructure.
Scalability of staff augmentation
To be as efficient in your work as possible is to only use the number of tools and materials you need to get the job done. This is how you can think of staff-augmented personnel. Use them as tools in your tool belt, pull them out whenever you need and slot them back in later.
The benefit here is that you only need to call on your vendor when you have constraints and specify however long you’ll need them. Whether it be to help tackle a big initiative or to serve as a stop-gap until you have the time and resources to bring someone on in-house.
Will I get the expertise I need through staff augmentation?
Getting specialist help can go one of two ways. Get a specific expert in for a short and concise engagement, or bring on an in-house expert and hope they have the adaptability to be an expert on other things as well.
The issue with the in-house expert is that they’ll cost a kajillion dollars of salary and outside of their specialization, they may not provide more value beyond that. This is where a staff augmentation is likely going to make the most sense.
The cost of an in-house principal engineer or principal architect to provide you guidance can be astronomical once you factor in their salary, recruitment, and onboarding cost. (Finding these people is not cheap!)
Specialized Skills and Expertise
Big initiatives on a roadmap can come with very specific problems. For example, a big cloud migration from on-premise to AWS may call for a specialist in data compliance in the cloud. Does your team know how PII and SOCII work in cloud environments, how to migrate that data in a secure way, ensure its encrypted in transit and at rest?
You may have in-house compliance personnel, but are they specialized in understanding how that data works when it’s off-premise?
Why not get an expert in to assess your migration strategy, or better yet find yourself a team that can be responsible for that entire piece? Essentially offloading that risk from your roadmap of initiatives.
Staff augmentation can also help you gain access to experienced personnel who can provide guidance and support. By hiring personnel who have worked on similar projects, you can benefit from their experience and insights, improving your project outcomes.
If you’re in the Super Bowl and want to be the one lifting the Lombardi triumphantly with all the confetti raining down on you at the end of the game. Would you take the team of rookies (even 1st round draft picks) or would you take the team that’s been there a hundred times and has a handful of rings?
I’m guessing the latter.
No matter how talented your team may be, having a team of experienced professionals could be the difference between success and the other thing.
The benefit of having experienced staff-augmented personnel is that they’ve likely gone through the exact scenario that you’re encountering currently. They have the battle scars, failures, wins, and learnings to know how things are likely to pan out. Then be able to guide you on the best path forward.
Will it help reduce risk?
No one wants to think about the failure of a project or initiative. To be fair, if you’re planning to fail that isn’t a great start. But, any smart manager should know to mitigate any known risk to the success of their project.
This is where you can benefit from staff augmentation.
By bringing in a third party to help augment your team, you’re also offloading a number of risks that come with handling everything in-house.
You’ll reduce the risk of not having the right people to deliver, the risk of losing people during the course of your project, and ultimately you’ll effectively have a ‘get-out-of-jail’ card if things do go really badly in the end.
A flexible staff-augmented workforce is essentially your insurance policy for lack of resources. By having the right partner, you’ll be able to lean on them to get you the team you need, when you need it to deliver on your strategic objectives. If you’re lacking the right people before your roadmap kicks off, then you’re already at risk of losing. Factoring in the recruitment and onboarding time, you’ll be far behind where you need to be.
Whereas if you’ve found yourself a strong delivery partner, they should be able to get you the right person within at least 4-6 weeks even at last minute notice. With the right level of communication and transparent relationship, you can cut to down this lead time even further.
The best staff augmentation agencies will have a warm pipeline of candidates, a bench, and also have a clear understanding of what your needs will be over the coming quarters.
People move on from companies.
They’ll find new opportunities, higher salaries, and maybe even better benefits. This will never change, especially in the pace at which technology evolves today.
The benefit here for staff augmentation is that your vendors are contractually obligated to keep those people in your team. Sure, there’ll be instances where those resources move onto other things. But, then your vendor is the one that has to find a suitable replacement that fits your needs.
Offloading this risk can provide a much needed reprieve for many managers, and it allows you to focus on the strategic delivery.
We all kick off projects with the intention of making them successful. But, there’s always a level of risk, assumption, and unknowns that come with it.
When you take on an initiative entirely in-house, you absorb all that risk yourself. It’s on you and your team to deliver and make it successful.
Working with a third party however can help offload some of that risk to a third party. By working with you and providing you their best people, they’re taking on part of the risk of delivery (or more depending on the scope of the project).
It may sound harsh, but in truth – it’s a lot easier to end a staff augmentation services contract than it is to let go one or more people internally.
Conclusion on the benefits of staff augmentation
The benefits of staff augmentation may be obvious in a few ways, but there are more subtle features that many may not be aware of. Having the right box of lego bricks or tool belt can help reduce / eliminate many of the headaches that come with resourcing the right team for your strategic objectives.
Just make sure that you find the right partner to work with. One that really understands your organization and what you’re trying to achieve. Be on the look out for vendors that are just trying to get a foot into your org so that they can continue to drill in deeper and become an irremovable piece of the office furniture. Find yourself a partner who prioritizes solving your pain points first and foremost.
If you’re looking to learn more about the benefits of staff augmentation and how it could work for your team, reach out to us at Autimo. We’ve been placing expert technical resources in teams for years and we’re also all from a background as augmented staff, so we know the best practices and where things can go wrong!