If your business is in any way connected to information technology and software (and you probably wouldn’t be here reading this if it weren’t) you must have heard of massive layoffs in tech companies in 2022 and 2023. You must have also heard that, contrary to the fact that layoffs took place, there’s actually a shortage of tech talent on the market.
One of the solutions for the latter is IT staff augmentation.
Mind Studios provides IT personnel augmentation services alongside other cooperation models. We’ve worked as outstaffers on multiple projects, among which industry leader in meditation apps Asana Rebel and a revolutionary supply chain solution Lumachain. Thus, we feel well-equipped to shine some light on what an augmented workforce can bring to the business table, which is why this article was born.
IT staff augmentation is a cooperation model that entails hiring extra staff from outstaffing agencies to fill in temporary positions in their IT departments. It’s a model beneficial to business owners as it allows them to access a bigger pool of talent, often globally, while saving on a certain portion of costs. But let’s do it all in proper order.
5 main benefits of IT staff augmentation services
When software is an integral part of your business, it’s sensible and logical to have an in-house team of developers, right? Many mid-size and some small companies have their own IT departments. However, it’s not unusual for such departments to consist of only one person per specialization or, sometimes, a couple multi-taskers — to save on money.
Even if your in-house team is chuck-full of geniuses, you’ve probably hit a wall or two, needing more people or specific skills to deliver your product on time and capture the audience. Hiring more people in-house is the go-to solution, but the process is:
- expensive (the average hiring cost in the US is $4,000 per employee)
- long (it takes about 24 days to find a suitable employee for US-based companies)
- disruptive for the existing team (onboarding new employees takes time off working on the product)
That’s where IT team augmentation can be of help. Here are some of the prominent IT staff augmentation benefits.
A big chunk of spending for an in-house team is the spending that’s not salaries: taxes, employee benefits, equipment, work space, utilities, etc. When you augment your IT department with external workforce, you save money on these extras.
Temporary employees tend to have their own equipment, they often work remotely, and they aren’t granted traditional benefits like tax compensation or paid sick leaves and vacations.
2. Access to specialized skills and upskilling your in-house team
IT contract staffing these days is mostly done with remote teams, meaning the whole planet is your talent pool. You can choose employees with more freedom and, therefore, you can focus more on specific skill sets or technologies you require. When there’s no skilled Elixir developer in your area, you can hire one from across the globe.
Additionally, the staff augmentation model with the help of an agency makes it easier to hire temporary specialists that will work closely with your existing team. That’s a contrast from hiring freelancers, for example: since freelancers usually juggle multiple projects simultaneously, they tend to prefer tasks not dependent on close interaction with an in-house team.
Close collaboration with external specialists offers your in-house team an opportunity to learn from them.
3. Increased flexibility and productivity
Outstaffed IT specialists are flexible by default: they need to be to operate as temporary additions to any team that needs their skills. And their productivity is usually also high for the simple reason that they’re paid for work completed, and to earn more they need to take on more jobs.
This is true for all kinds of external workforce, be it developers from IT staff augmentation firms or freelancers.
4. Security of business information
Here’s another reason to employ agencies instead of freelancers: established companies have policies in place to protect their clients’ information. They readily sign NDAs and regulate all sides of relationships between their staff and clients hiring them.
Moreover, reputable temporary IT staffing companies set up processes to protect themselves and their clients from accidental leaks and data breaches. While freelancers may also follow proper procedures, your control over them is not as tight, meaning information sharing shall be extremely careful.
5. Reduced HR workload
As we’ve mentioned above, hiring a new employee is both costly and time consuming. This includes looking for in-house staff as well as freelancers: your human resources department will have to expand effort to do that.
On the other side of the scale is the established IT outsourcing and outstaffing companies that already have a pool of talent ready to start working as soon as the agreement is signed. When you have a partner like that, the need to burden your HR department with looking for temporary staffers disappears. In one of our insights, we compared staff augmentation and IT outsourcing, so that you can understand which model is more preferable for you and make the final choice.
The two types of IT staff augmentation
The staff augmentation model is employed by businesses in two main cases:
- When they need extra work force to finish the product faster, or
- When they need temporary staff with specific knowledge or skills to implement certain functionality
Therefore, we tend to divide the IT team augmentation into two categories: commodity and skill-based.
This category includes all-purpose IT staff with a wide range of skills applicable in many niches. These people are allocated to projects where there’s need to speed up the development or help with tasks of lower importance your in-house team would otherwise postpone.
It by no means entails low-skill employees, though, please don’t make this mistake. The key to being a good commodity staff extra is being skilled with what one does, as low skills means slower work and more mistakes.
The second category of staffing solutions for IT is skill-based. These are specialists that have mastered specific technologies or can build certain high-level features for software. For example, the rise of AI in the latest years gave rise to high demand for developers well-versed in technologies like Google ML Kit and TensorFlow’s Keras.
At Mind Studios, we have accomplished professionals of both categories: we have experiences developers with a wide range of skills for commodity staff augmentation (backend, front-end, Android & iOS developers, designers, QAs, and BAs) and staff with specialized knowledge like machine learning, high-end security in software, and more.
How to do IT team augmentation successfully: 5 tips
As any hiring, IT staff scaling using temporary external work force can go wrong. To avoid that and save yourself time and money (and a good chunk of mental health), we recommend following several rules.
1. Clearly define your project requirements
The IT staff extension methodology works best with well-defined goals and software requirements. When you know exactly what you need from external temps, you’ll find appropriate people faster.
Discuss with your in-house team exactly what they need to finish your project on time and with all necessary functionality. Do they need commodity temps to complete tasks faster or do the work with lower business information access so that in-house developers could focus on something only they can do? Or do you need a specialist knowledgeable in a certain area?
Set up proper deadlines and outline clear requirements so that when you approach IT staff augmentation consulting companies, they can quickly choose proper staff for you.
2. Choose the right provider
The global market offers an enormous pool of talent, meaning you’ll rarely need to compromise too much. But on the flip side, it means you might sometimes have a hard time choosing.
Here are things we recommend taking into account when choosing IT talent augmentation:
- Portfolios of completed projects. Check and whitelist companies that have experience in your niche or with building functionality you require.
- Hourly rates. If you can afford to spend a lot of money on augmented staff, that’s great. But seeing as one of staff augmentation’s biggest perks is cost-efficiency, keeping in mind your budget will do you good.
- Time difference. Augmented staff will have to collaborate with your in-house team. Depending on how close that collaboration needs to be, you might be limited in options across oceans due to time differences. In some cases of very tight schedules and extremely close interaction between augmented and in-house employees, for example, your only options might be onshore or nearshore staff augmentation. When time difference is of lesser importance, offshore remote IT staff augmentation might be a cheaper and/or more high-quality solution.
- Cultural barriers. Most software development professionals these days speak English at a sufficient level, meaning language barriers are a fairly rare occurrence even if your augmented IT staff is from a country far away. However, it’s important to consider cultural differences as well. Work ethics and processes vary not just on a personal level but also from country to country.
We at Mind Studios have experienced this first-hand when working with clients from China, Middle East, Europe, and the US. You need to find a team that’s adaptable to your in-house team’s mindset, for smoother cooperation.
3. Establish clear communication channels
When you’re working with a remote team — which is the case in most augmented staff situations — managing the collaboration becomes trickier than with an in-house team. More so when it’s not management-team communication like in outsourcing but team-team communication.
If you have internal communication software, you can add augmented staff there, or you can use secure instant messengers and project management software with messaging functionality. The important thing here is to set up everything and establish communication guidelines for temporary employees.
4. Set expectations and goals
On-demand IT staffing is a model where clear goals are of utmost importance, especially if you want to stay within budget. Since you’re working with temporary staff, their understanding of your business intricacies and processes is by default limited, as is their immersion into your business goals.
That’s why you need to specify what your goal is for the augmented team and what you expect of them: the scope of work, the deadlines, the communication style, etc.
5. Provide ongoing support
Honesty and transparency go a long way to ensure quality collaboration. Keep up communication with your augmented staff beyond onboarding to catch any miscommunication or other issues before they escalate to cause financial loss and missed deadlines.
Mind Studios as your tech partner
We at Mind Studios have been doing IT staff augmentation for years, although we just recently singled it out into a separate service. For example, Asana Rebel, the famous yoga app, partnered with us several times throughout the years to build new functionality into their Android app; the latest stint took place just last year in 2022.
We’ve also been a part of Lumachain, a product in the meat industry logistics and supply chain.
In Fitr.Training, our developers worked in collaboration with our client’s management and marketing team to deliver a superb product to the fitness market.
One of our ongoing clients started our partnership with us by hiring our specialists to augment their existing team, but later entrusted the whole project to us and moved their in-house team to a new product.
According to our Head of Business Development Anton Baryshevskiy, our clients appreciate Mind Studios as partners because we go above and beyond just bare requested service. Even as commodity staff, our engineers immerse themselves in the project, analyze it, follow its lifecycle, and voice their ideas for improvement. Thanks to this, many of our clients ended up with more successful products. And we’re proud of that.
IT staff augmentation is gaining popularity with small companies and huge corporations alike, and this trend is set to continue into the future. The benefits of hiring temporary project-based staff from specialized agencies are too great to ignore: from cost saving to flexibility and upskilling, the pros outweigh the possible cons quite nicely. So now is exactly the time to hop on and help your business grow faster with less investment.
Mind Studios values quality communication and speedy delivery of high-end products at moderate IT staff augmentation cost. If you’re looking for specialists to enhance your in-house development team, feel free to leave us a message in the contact form; our business development specialists will reach out to you with a free 45-minute consultation so that you can check if we match with your team for partnership.