Staff Augmentation / IT Staffing

Staff augmentation is a powerful tool for any organization’s arsenal, but not many understand the different types of staff augmentation and how to choose the right model. This is the perfect place to get started.

Staff augmentation is incredibly common—the global staffing industry, one of the primary suppliers of staff augmentation talent, is estimated to support $490 billion in annual spend. Another source of staff augmentation talent is freelancing, which has been around for centuries but recently gained notoriety through the rise of global freelance platforms. It is estimated that in the US 34% percent of workers engage in freelancing today, and that number is expected to grow steadily over the next decade.

Choosing the Right Staff Augmentation Model

Most organizations use a mix of providers, depending on their needs. When you are considering staff augmentation, the most important thing is to determine what you are trying to accomplish and what is most important. For example, if you are looking for an expert in machine learning (a highly in-demand skill today), prioritizing cost will be unrealistic. Likewise, if you need 100 people to do a task that can be easily trained, you won’t want to hire based on a high level of skill. With a broad range of staff augmentation models available to organizations, it’s critical to weigh the pros and cons of each arrangement before selecting.

Consideration #1: Project Length

A staff augmentation arrangement can help to meet the demands of an organization in unique ways. Still, it’s not a perfect solution in every scenario. Staff augmentation is typically best utilized in shorter-term projects, as opposed to long-term projects, which require months or years to complete. It could still make sense for an enterprise to engage a contingent worker on longer projects, in which case an outsourcing arrangement would be a better option than a staff augmentation model. Often, staff augmentation providers are willing to negotiate such agreements.

Consideration #2: Secrecy

Some projects are of a clandestine nature and involve critical intellectual property (IP). Staff augmentation solutions should be carefully evaluated in these instances. However, the rationale for that decision is more often attributable to psychological comfort than hard evidence. Objectively, an agreement signed with a contractor is as bulletproof as one signed with a full-time employee. It’s worth noting that one of the most famous data leaks in history was helmed by a subcontractor who was previously employed by a tier 1 services firm and is currently living under asylum in Russia. The upshot: organizations should proceed slowly and with caution when hiring augmented staff for top-secret projects.

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