What Is It Staff Augmentation and How Does It Differ From Other Engagement Models

When you work on a software development project, it’s a common case that you might require a few additional people on the team or a specific talent that your in-house team lacks. Or you might need to quickly close the gap in your resources but don’t want to spend time on a lengthy recruitment process.

This is where staff augmentation saves the day. But what is staff augmentation exactly and why opt for it and not for other engagement models? In this article, we explain the main benefits and the working principle of staffing augmentation and compare it to outsourcing and T&M models.

What Is It Staff Augmentation and How Does It Differ From Other Engagement Models

IT staff augmentation: meaning explained

Say, you have a software project and realize you need one or two people (or more) to join the team as your resources are not enough. Or you need a person with a specific skill set for a short-term project. These and other use cases call for the team expansion for a short period of time – this is what staff augmentation definition is all about.

In other words, it is an engagement model that implies the use of external talents (resources) on a temporary basis to scale your team and close the existing skill gaps. The main features of this model are:

  • Full control from the client’s side: despite hiring the external specialists, the client retains full control over the project and the team;
  • Rapid onboarding: speed is critical in staff augmentation and usually, the specialists join the team almost immediately after the client interviews and approves them;
  • Short-term collaboration: staff augmentation is perfect for short-term projects.

When do you need staff augmentation services?

Since there are a variety of engagement models out there (fixed price, dedicated teams, full outsourcing, etc.), you might ask: when exactly should I choose IT staff augmentation? Here are the most common scenarios when businesses benefit the most from this model.

Reinforcement of the existing in-house team

As already mentioned, technical staff augmentation is usually the #1 solution when it comes to adding extra resources to your team. Whether you simply need more people for the project or need a specific tech talent to join, staff augmentation can help you with that. Another great thing is that the process of hiring talents is relatively simple. Instead of going through the full-cycle recruitment process, you just need to contact the selected vendor, interview the candidates, and select the ones that meet your needs the best.

Addition of high-level/specific skills to the project

It takes a lot of time and effort to train in-house developers to master a specific skill/technology. So to speed up the process, companies often use staff augmentation services. This approach allows immediately adding a specific talent that you won’t need outside the project. 

Quick team scaling

In a fast-paced software development environment, you often don’t have time to go through the lengthy screening process. Staff augmentation makes it faster and easier to look for needed specialists, and is often more cost-saving compared to hiring and training an in-house employee.

Full control over the project

When you want to retain full control of your project, increase the visibility of processes, and improve communication with team members, staff augmentation works perfectly. It does not imply bringing an external manager to the project, and lets you control and organize all processes the way you need them.

Main benefits of staff augmentation

Though staff augmentation is a highly effective method, there are several advantages that set it apart from other engagement models. They are:


Instead of going through the full-cycle recruitment process, your biggest concern would be choosing the right vendor. As soon as you select a company that provides staff augmentation services, things escalate in a swift and effective manner. The vendor will present you suitable candidates, you will conduct interviews, and select the ones that fit your project needs the best. In this way, you are free from the hassle of conducting technical interviews or screening a great number of candidates. This, in turn, greatly saves your time and resources and allows for quick onboarding of selected candidates to the project.

Easy scaling

A great thing about IT staff augmentation services is that you can hire as many or as little specialists as you need, and it’s easy to scale the team up and down, depending on the project status and requirements. With this engagement model, you and the vendor agree on a pricing method (weekly, monthly) and hourly rates and plan the workload and the budget according to the progress on the project. This allows you to easily add needed specialists to the team and precisely plan finances and project-related activities.

Increased transparency

We’ve already mentioned that with IT team augmentation, you get full control over the team and the project. That means, all team members report directly to you, and you are aware of everything what’s going on. If project control is important to you and you actively take part in project management, staff augmentation is your best choice.

“Trial run” opportunity

Finally, staff augmentation is a great opportunity for a trial run of team expansion. With more people on the team, you can check how well your organization is prepared for growth, whether current processes support team scaling, and what needs to be optimized before hiring more specialists on a full-time basis.

Main considerations and limitations of staff augmentation

By now, staff augmentation seems like a perfect solution for the majority of software development issues – however, there are certain challenges that are to be kept in mind. Also, after analyzing these challenges and benefits, you might want to consider other models – we’ll discuss them in detail later. Back to the challenges:

Timezone and language 

It is a common scenario that a company hires specialists from a different country. And while international talent pool offers a plethora of benefits, it also brings certain challenges like the potential language and time barriers. Hence, it is important to organize a transparent and effective communication process to avoid possible barriers and ensure that your working hours overlap with the ones of the team.


When you work with external specialists, the risk of security issues grows, especially if these people work from a different location. To minimize and mitigate potential threats, it is recommended to establish effective security policies and regularly conducts security audits. We’ve already written numerous articles on security in our blog – but if you don’t know where to start, we recommend the one on CIS security controls.

Dependence on the vendor

With staff augmentation, there is a certain dependence on the vendor, which might bring several challenges. First, if the initial project takes longer than planned, the augmented staff may not be available anymore in the future, so you need to consider that. Second, staff augmentation leads to a certain level of vendor lock-in. You will need to select a reliable and experienced vendor with a suitable talent pool that precisely matches your needs.

Staff augmentation vs outsourcing 

Outsourcing is similar to staff augmentation and includes various models, such as fixed price, Time & Material, and dedicated teams. You can read more about each model in this article and for now, let’s briefly compare staff augmentation and outsourcing.

Staff augmentationOutsourcing
Project control100% project controlThe project is managed by the PM of the outsourced team
Integration with the in-house teamEasyMore complex
ExpertiseSelective (depending on current needs)Extensive (includes QA engineers, business analysts, designers, etc.)

Final word

After answering the “what is staff augmentation” question, we hope you now feel more confident about deploying this model. Staff augmentation is a highly effective method for quickly scaling your team and adding the needed expertise to it. And if you need recommendations on how to select a reliable vendor, we have a series of articles dedicated to working with IT vendors – check out our blog or leave comments below in case you have any questions left.

Want to stay updated on the latest tech news?

Sign up for our monthly blog newsletter in the form below.

Softteco Logo Footer