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What Is Staff Augmentation in Software Development?

Written by Jimmy Rustling

Staying competitive in the software development industry is a constant struggle for most startups. Due to tight budgets, hiring top-tier IT specialists is almost impossible for startups.

So many of these tech companies resort to using the staff augmentation model to address these challenges.

This recruitment strategy enables small companies to hire software developers at much lower costs. These professionals are paid by the hour or per project and deliver great work that boosts the company’s revenue base.

Over the years, contract staff addition has gained popularity among startups. Contract staffing is a fast-growing market worth $90 billion in 2021 but will grow at a CAGR of 9% to $130 billion by 2030.

With technological advancements, the software development market is set to grow exponentially. For startups to stay ahead, they need the services of top-quality IT specialists, which staff augmentation helps them with.

This article tells about staff augmentation meaning, why you should use it, and the challenges you are likely to face. But first, let’s see how it works.

The Way Staff Augmentation Works

Staff augmentation means a recruiting strategy that gives software companies and startups access to elite talent. It is an arrangement where professional developers or specialists in related fields are contracted to work with in-house teams temporarily or on specific projects. These professionals bring premium skills to deliver high-quality projects for startups.

A report from LinkedIn states that it takes an average of 44 days to fill IT roles. This delay is because candidates for IT roles must have specific skills, which take a lot of time to verify. Startups don’t have the luxury of time and need to recruit experienced hires quickly on short-term contracts.

Staff augmentation is usually for a short period ranging from weeks to under 2 years. Some IT staff augmentation lasts for much longer. Whichever time frame you choose, the process is similar. Let’s get down to it.

Choose the service provider.

The service provider/vendor is the third-party agent who recruits outsourced staff for companies. So the first stage is to contact the vendor with details of what you need. Provide information about your budget for the role, duration of the project, and business aims for adding contract staff.

One best practice for choosing a service provider is to learn more about their experience and success rate. Contact past clients for reviews of their work and get performance data from them to gauge their level of expertise.

Identify the skill set needed.

By now, you should know the particular skill set you need and what the ideal candidate should possess. You may also add the experience level you are looking for, especially if it is in a niche area or tech development.

The vendor provides a shortlist of suitable candidates based on your requirements.


Interview the qualified candidates to discuss the project you need them for in detail. Also, talk about the duration of the engagement and remuneration to be on the same page. You should also factor in time zone differences if the candidate lives in a different region.


The candidates with the most relevant skills are hired. Contracts have been signed, and they are ready to contribute to your project.


Finally, train them on your workflow processes and work culture. Also, introduce them to the other team members for easy communication, and you are ready to go.

Identifying the Right Time for Using Staff Augmentation Services

There are times when you need proficient IT staff augmentation to complement your work. Some of these instances include the following.

To beef up an existing team

Your in-house team may have been sufficient for some projects. But you can always make the team super by dipping into the pool of high-skilled staff to add to your team. Having this option gives you an edge over your competitors.

To fill gaps in your team

You may have projects that need some rare skills in some areas. Personnel augmentation solves this problem by helping you draft in experts to fill the knowledge hole in your team. For instance, if you are working on a project like an online casino, you would need a developer with experience in blockchain and cryptocurrency development.

To build a larger team

Another instance is when you need to assemble a larger team. Some projects are complex and more hands are needed to achieve them. Resource augmentation boosts your staff strength at a fraction of the cost of hiring full-time staff.

To finish a project quickly

When there are deadlines to finish up projects, there is limited time to begin the full process of a fresh hire. Instead, you can call in experts to speed up the work. Flexibility in recruitment means you can hire staff on short notice without going through the rigors of training them.

Staff Augmentation Benefits: Why You Need It

Adding short-term staff to your team is great and here is why.


Hiring elite IT personnel on project-based contracts is a wise financial decision for any startup. You don’t have to spend on additional costs such as healthcare or pension contributions if you were hiring permanently. You also don’t have to rent a workspace or pay for office equipment for these professionals.

Hiring flexibility

Recruiting full-time staff is usually a long, drawn-out process or vetting and several stages of interviews and mock projects to test suitability. This is time-consuming and wastes productive time. Hiring outsourced staff is faster as you only need them for a specific project, and once completed, you part ways with them. Depending on your budget and available projects, it also helps you upscale or downsize your operations.

Access to quality IT specialists

Augmentation provides unparalleled access to the best talents in the tech industry. For instance, you may want experts for cloud computing, Metaverse, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain technology. Developers in these fields are costly, but staff augmenting allows you to work with the top 1% of developers.

Diverse Pool to Choose from

You are open to more than specialists from a particular country which is the case in full-time on-site recruitment. You can recruit developers from countries like Ukraine, Estonia, Brazil, and India. Moreover, these developers are highly experienced but cheaper than their Western Europe and United States counterparts.

Reduced training time

An outsourced professional is already trained compared to fresh hires that need training or onboarding. These expert staffs bring their wealth of experience to your project, making the onboarding process relatively shorter.

Increased productivity

Imagine having some of the world’s finest talent working on your venture. This will drive your productivity through the roof. Accomplished staff can help you streamline your workflow and be an example for your existing staff. This breeds a positive work culture and results in higher productivity.

Growth potential

Outsourcing top talent means you can take on bigger and more complicated projects. Your business reputation is enhanced when you have impressive projects in your portfolio. It undoubtedly gives you a higher ceiling and accelerates your brand growth.

Challenges You May Face with Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation is great but has its peculiar challenges. These are some issues you must contend with.

Communication challenges

Even though developers universally understand programming languages, human communication is more complex. Good communication is a pillar in executing software projects. However, progress will be improved if team members speak the same language.

Cultural Clashes

There is also the issue of cultural differences, which hinders team bonding. Developers are human beings and are shaped by their culture. There is also a difference in the work culture they use.

Meshing these cultures is a hurdle that startups must overcome.


Time Zone differences

A big issue is harmonizing work hours. A startup may need to hire staff living in different regions of the world. These time differences usually affect workflow, which ultimately affects productivity. For instance, if a startup is based in California and hires a developer based in Mumbai, India, it must deal with the over 12 hours difference between the countries.

Security challenges.

Intellectual theft is a big problem when bringing in outside staff. These short-term experts are exposed to some trade secrets and IP infrastructure, which they may exploit when their contracts end. You can prevent this problem by asking them to sign Non-disclosure Agreements (NDA), which makes them liable for any information breach.

Poor expertise

There are instances where an outsourced programmer may be unfit for purpose. Yes, they come highly recommended, but there is always the risk of them needing to fit into your project. So affordable costs must not be your first priority.

Staff Augmentation Models

You can choose any staff augmentation for your project.

On-site staff augmentation

This refers to a model which targets short-term employment of an IT expert to work as an in-house staff. The employment could be full-time, but the crucial thing is that it is not a permanent position. It is a great model for companies looking for projects that need proximity, physical interaction with team members, and better coordination. This model encourages camaraderie and a strong team spirit.

Remote-based model

As the name suggests, the IT professional works from his location, not in-house. Remote-based model is perfect for companies who want a global pool of talent at cheap rates. However, time and communication problems are challenges you must deal with if you decide to use this model.

Project-based augmentation model

The hiring of IT specialists in this model is limited to a project or a series of projects. Some projects may require a certain level of expertise but are unavailable locally. You can use this model to fill that skill gap tailored to that project. The project-based model is flexible and suitable for high-quality but short-term tasks.

Team-based augmentation

Instead of one or two professionals, this model recruits an entire team to execute projects quickly. This model works for startups looking for a ready-made team with experience executing similar projects. A company can leverage the team’s existing harmony to finish projects in record time.

Hybrid augmentation model

Combining any of the above models lets you enjoy the best of both worlds. Especially if you have a set of complex projects and you need quality hands to execute them speedily.


The benefits of staff augmentation make it very attractive for companies to use. Flexibility, cheap hiring costs, and access to top-level IT talent give it a considerable edge over full-time recruitment. However, you must be wary of the pitfalls of augmenting your staff with remote IT personnel.

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.