Staff Augmentation in IT: Pros and Cons

Calendar Icon

Publish date:

May 19, 2023

Updated on:

March 8, 2024

Clock Icon

Read time:


Staff Augmentation in IT: Pros and Cons


Staff augmentation may sound like something modern, but it’s actually a staffing method that’s been around for a long time. The phrase was coined in 1988, when Gartner, Inc. would outsource administrators from different organizations to fill the gap when its own staff was unavailable because of illness, vacation, etc. Since then outsourcing has continued to grow, particularly staff augmentation in IT, but for different reasons than covering for someone while they’re unavailable for a short period.

IT staff augmentation is incredibly popular around the world. One of the biggest suppliers of staff augmentation services, the international staffing industry, is worth over $650 billion. Another excellent resource for staff augmentation services is freelancing. This flexible way of working has been around for centuries but has become more popular in recent years due to the positive work-life balance it affords. Today, around 36% of the US workforce is involved in freelance work.

Three people laughing at a desk using laptop computers after being hired through IT staff augmentation.

When do you use it?

There are many different scenarios in which IT staff augmentation is a smart move. Here are some of the most common situations in which it’s an efficient and effective means of staffing:

1. Increased capacity

Sometimes you may need a greater number of staff to fulfill a temporary spike in everyday work. This could be due to an additional project that needs extra workers or seasonal businesses that experience higher customer volumes at certain times of the year.

2. Bridge a gap

You may need some temporary staff to bridge a gap while you put together a permanent work team. This could be because you’re setting up a new department or you’re physically moving offices and not all your original staff were able to come with you.

3. Specialized skills

If none of your permanent employees have the right skills for a certain project, it may be a good idea to outsource a team with the required skills until the project is complete. In terms of staff augmentation in IT, this could be a top web development company to create a website or a graphic design company to design a new logo.

4. Strategic

Staff augmentation doesn’t always have to be temporary. You could use this means of staffing to create a team or entire organization with flexible labor to help you gain an advantage over your competition. It could allow you to launch your product or service quicker than expected, be more agile, etc.

IT staff augmentation pros

When it’s done correctly, staff augmentation in IT for a project such as mobile app development or website design can be incredibly beneficial. Here are some of its most valuable benefits:

  • Top-quality augmented staff can provide great value to a team and project.
  • Organizations can introduce new skill sets when needed, instead of having to hire new employees long-term.
  • Working with augmented staff can allow a company that’s struggling to avoid laying off all its permanent workforce.
  • IT staff augmentation lets a business increase the workforce when things are busy and decrease the workforce when things are quiet.
  • This method of staffing is an excellent way of giving people a trial run to see if they’re a good fit to become permanent employees of your business.

IT staff augmentation cons

Staff augmentation isn’t always the best move for all businesses. Here are a few reasons why you should consider a more traditional approach to staffing:

  • You may have a project that demands a high level of company knowledge. In this case, augmented staff would take too long to train for it to be worthwhile.
  • If the project you need augmented staff for is going to last years, such as ongoing website maintenance and updates, there’s a chance the staff may turnover within that timeframe and you’ll have to update different people each time.
  • Staff augmentation could lead to becoming dependent on third-party organizations for staffing. This could be a difficult habit to break and add a level of risk to your sustainability plan.
IT staff augmentation workers sitting in an office working on desktop computers.

Common myths

While there are certainly many pros and cons to consider when it comes to IT staff augmentation, it’s important you realize that there are also some misunderstandings of the staffing method.

Myth 1. IT staff augmentation is a way of saving money

Some recruitment managers believe it’s possible to avoid the costs associated with paying benefits for a full-time employee by choosing augmented staff. This just isn’t true. The staffing provider is responsible for paying the benefit costs, which are factored into the rate you’ll pay. This myth is very damaging and can lead to an organization paying more for augmented staff than traditional full-time employees.

Myth 2. IT staff augmentation is too expensive

Hiring augmented staff isn’t cheaper than full-time employees — but it’s not more expensive, either. For example, you may think that hiring a contingent worker for $100 per hour is more expensive than hiring a full-time employee. But take into consideration that employers now pay an average of 25% of employees’ salaries in employment costs. This makes augmented staff better value for money and costs about the same as hiring full-time employees with lower hourly rates.

Myth 3. IT staff augmentation is the same as managed services

The wording in the IT sector can get confusing and many people think phrases are synonyms of each other, instead of being just similar. Staff augmentation and managed services are two things that people falsely think are the same. Staff augmentation involves a position with a job description that’s paid for on a material and time basis. Managed services involve a definitive deliverable.

For example, you may hire a developer to write code for a mobile application that uses a different language than the one your development team is familiar with. This is staff augmentation and the worker would be paid by the hour. On the other hand, you may hire a single contractor or a team to create a specific app from scratch. This is managed services and the individual/team would be paid when the app is complete.

Staff Augmentation IT FAQs

Q1. How do you start staff augmentation?

Choose projects with a limited time requirement, confirm talent gaps in your company, identify specific skills required, and search for teams and individuals that meet all your needs. Using a website that lists the best talent for your type of project, such as the best AI companies for your health tech development project, is easier than seeking them out yourself.

Q2. What is an example of staff augmentation?

Your health organization wants to create an app so patients can make appointments online. You require seven developers to do so, but your in-house health tech development team is made up of only four. You use IT staff augmentation to externally hire three members of staff from a top Flutter development company to support your team and build the app.

Q3. What is team augmentation in agile?

Team augmentation in agile is the process of hiring external workers when you already have a formed team but you need extra help for a specific project or a set period of time. This is also known as staff augmentation and involves employers personally choosing the workers they want and managing them with the tools and methods they prefer.

In the same way you may hire one of the top Android development companies to help you build a game app, a healthcare organization may temporarily hire a health tech development team to help them implement AI software.


Enjoyed the article?

Like it and let us know what you think, so we can create more content tailored to your interests.

Nicola Quinn

Linkedin Icon

Hi, I’m Nicola – a Brit living in Tenerife who can’t get enough of the frustrating parts of digital marketing that stress most people out.

While most people don’t know where to begin with creating a powerful SEO strategy, I pull out my trusted strategy blueprint and get to work creating actionable, effective steps.

While most people groan at SEO writing, I delve into keyword research and pull out my creative flair for the ultimate website content that wows your readers and Google.

While most people haven’t got a clue what to post on Facebook, I analyse audiences to find out where they are, what content they want to see and use it to build a sensational social media marketing strategy.

While most people get lost down the Pinterest rabbit hole and end up with an account full of pins about things they love, I refine my proven social media marketing strategy and use it to reach and influence your target audience.

Basically, I’m the right balance of geek and creative. I know how to do all the background stuff to please the search engine masters, while also connecting with your people and delivering them engaging, exciting content they love.

I dived into my line of work in 2011 and I haven’t stopped swimming since.

More from this author

Join the community.