More than ever, companies are turning to IT Staff Augmentation to fill short term developer needs, and even to support long-term engineering teams.
As the world adjusts to life after a pandemic, entire industries are racing to fully digitize their commerce. The increased demand has created a global developer shortage. The “crunch” is especially tough for those recruiting software developers with 5+ years of experience as it becomes too hard to compete for talent with top tech companies (and the salaries they are willing to pay).
On-demand developers can help businesses chase time-sensitive business opportunities, infuse engineering teams with varied and specialized software experience, and reduce engineering turnover.
What Is IT Staff Augmentation?
When companies expand their engineering teams, they can either hire internally or seek outside help. IT Staff Augmentation is an approach that companies use when they need to add developers in the short term, perhaps while they are actively recruiting and hiring, or when they need to scale development resources up and down based on changing business requirements.
It can take months to recruit and hire a developer. Retaining your IT employees as they gain more experience and the competing offers become sweeter creates a real challenge for technology continuity. Agencies that specialize in hiring, training, and managing software developers know how to staff technology projects and how to retain team members. For this reason, companies often hire an agency to provide and maintain a portion of their developer workforce.
These situations are often short term until a company can build out its internal team, but oftentimes companies choose to continue working with staff augmentation resources who work alongside in-house team members, report to in-house management, and provide valuable expertise and perspective to in-house teams.
IT Staff Augmentation vs Outsourcing
IT Staff Augmentation refers to the process of filling skill gaps by bringing external team members to work alongside your existing team. You are responsible for the processes and controls within the team, and how the team communicates and coordinates.
Your IT Staff Augmentation partner is responsible for finding, training, retaining, and keeping external team members happy. Augmented team members may go to an office with colleagues on a different project, take part in social activities, and share specified knowledge required by an interesting problem, but they will attend virtual meetings and take direction from internal managers, while collaborating towards common product goals with internal team members.
Outsourcing, on the other hand, is when entire projects are assigned to an external team to be managed and completed. It’s more hands-off, but requires additional project and process management on the vendor side.
How It Works? [+ Statistics]
When bringing in IT staff augmentation partner, first identify talent gaps. Perhaps you have strong front-end developers, but no back-end developers. Or you have web developers but mobile developers. Sometimes you have senior engineers who can architect and lead, but you need mid-level developers to build out features. No matter where the gap is, an IT staff augmentation vendor can identify external resources with knowledge and experience to complement your team.
Here Are Some Statistics Drawn from CompTIA Technology Trends 2022:
When integrating externals into your team, the more communication and transparency you can provide the better. These are your colleagues now, even if just for a short time. They will only succeed if you help them to succeed. You can include external team members in all scrum processes, and even in product or strategy meetings.
It’s also helpful to integrate your external team members into HR processes when possible. You can have 1:1s with your externals, give them (and your vendors) actionable feedback, and take part in goal setting sessions.
IT Staff Augmentation can fill talent gaps while saving time and money. Hiring is time consuming and risky. Staff Augmentation vendors do this full time and are pretty good at it. While your organization works to fill critical needs, external team members can step in for the short term. If your vendor is good, they will have carefully vetted external resources.
Because they work for an IT staff organization, they’ve also likely worked in a myriad of software development scenarios - with big teams and small, chaotic and organized, with urgent deadlines or slow moving feature sets. In short, they’ve been through battle and will be able to step in and quickly provide value as well as perspective on what they’ve seen work and not work.
Related: IT Staff Augmentation Services
While one of the benefits of IT Staff Augmentation is the increased control you have over your external team members (as opposed to shipping out the entire process to an outsource agency), this can also be a drawback. Added control also increases the need for supervision and management overhead. External team members will need to learn the processes and culture of the organization before they are at peak performance. If your organization isn’t, well, organized, then integrating different types of people with different skill sets and backgrounds can be challenging.
You also have less control over the work environment that your external team members have. Are their laptops secure and high performing? Do they have reliable internet access? What are their overall working conditions? These questions are all fair game in vendor interview, and most reliable companies will offer a site visit too.
The most common uses cases for IT Staff Augmentation are as follows:
- You need to reinforce your in-house team. While you may have in-house software developers, you might need expertise in a specific technology, or a more experienced developer. Or maybe you need extra firepower. This is particularly the case when launching new products.
- You are on a tight deadline. Recruiting can be a long process. IT staff augmentation firms can jump in on short notice with capable staff to help meet a deadline while you work through recruiting.
- You need specific skills that you don’t want to hire for. Perhaps you need a Hubspot expert, or a mobile developer for an integration with a 3rd party. If the need is short term, there is no reason to hire in-house.
- You need it as a bridge for hire. While interviewing for full time team members, you can use staff augmentation to keep things moving along. We’ve even been hired to help interview full time candidates.
Whether your need is short term or long, specific or generalized, an intro conversation with an IT Staff Augmentation vendor can help shed light on your technology strategy.
Is IT Staff Augmentation the Right Model?
Whether you plan to hire in-house or you plan to rely on the scalability and speed of an IT Staff Augmentation vendor, it’s good to understand your options for assembling a high-quality software developer team. Why not try both approaches and see what fits best for your organization and workstyle?
You can ask for guidance on how to assemble an ideal software team for your product. Request a trial work period from an IT Staff Augmentation vendor and see how an external developer can augment your team’s capabilities and knowledge. And when the time comes that you no longer need that person’s specialization or skill, you can notify your vendor and feel good that your external will be placed in another interesting and exciting position.
HERE'S AN INFOGRAPHIC REFLECTING STATISTICS ABOUT SF APPWORKS, A SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT & IT STAFF AUGMENTATION COMPANY