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May 1, 2024

Guidelines for Choosing the Right IT Staff Augmentation Company


Staff augmentation is a strategic approach to business staffing that enables companies to add skilled professionals to their teams on an as-needed basis. This model allows businesses to respond flexibly to project demands or expertise gaps without the long-term commitments associated with hiring permanent employees. By slotting skilled professionals into their existing workforce, companies can address specific skill shortages, manage fluctuating workloads, and drive projects forward more effectively without the time or expense of finding and recruiting the right people to become full-time employees. 

The agility provided by staff augmentation is particularly valuable in industries where technological advancements and market demands evolve rapidly. That includes IT and software development businesses can adapt to these changes by quickly bringing in specialists with the required competencies. This not only speeds up project delivery and innovation but also reduces the overhead costs associated with recruitment and training. Consequently, staff augmentation not only fills immediate skill gaps but also enhances the overall agility and competitiveness of a business. 

Sometimes these augmentations come from directly contracted freelance professionals, but they may also come from staffing companies, general or specialized. When you want to add staff for a software design project, choosing the right IT staff augmentation partner is critical. A general staffing company that traditionally excels at providing administrative staff, for example, is not going to have a bench of the expertise you need to reap the benefits of IT staff augmentation. You can’t get the benefits of IT staff augmentation if your partner doesn’t have the knowledge to understand your needs and provide the right people to meet them. 


A Note on Hiring Freelancers Directly Instead of Through an IT Staff Augmentation Partner

Don’t do it!  Staff augmentation partners offer several advantages over directly hiring freelance contractors for IT or software development projects. 

Firstly, they streamline the talent sourcing process. Established partners maintain a vast network of pre-vetted professionals, saving you valuable time and resources otherwise spent on recruitment and skill evaluation. They can match your precise project needs with the right expertise, often much faster than you could individually. “Pre-vetted” is the most important piece of that. By the time you realize a clever freelancer has misrepresented their skill set, you’ve sunk a lot of time and money into having them on your team. 

Secondly, augmentation partners provide a layer of management and accountability. They handle administrative tasks, mitigate potential risks, and often offer performance guarantees. This allows you to focus on core project goals while the partner ensures smooth integration of the augmented talent.

Additionally, staff augmentation allows for greater scalability than individual freelance hires. If your project demands fluctuate, partners can swiftly add or remove resources, giving you flexibility that would be difficult to achieve when managing a roster of freelancers yourself. 

Finally, some partners offer specialized knowledge in emerging technologies or niche areas, helping you stay ahead of the curve. 


Key Factors in Selecting an IT Staff Augmentation Partner

Now you know not to waste time hiring freelancers directly. So how can you know you’re choosing the right IT staff augmentation partner? To find the ideal partner for your company, these factors are crucial:

  • Expertise and Specialization: Prioritize partners who demonstrate a deep understanding of your industry and the specific technologies your software development or other IT project demands. A service partner that works with professionals who specialize in your sector will have a ready pool of candidates with the skills you need and fluency with the challenges you'll face. This streamlined approach accelerates onboarding and minimizes the learning curve, key to leveraging the benefits of IT staff augmentation.
  • Reputation and References: A company's history speaks volumes. Don't hesitate to request references and investigate client reviews or testimonials.  Pay attention to project success rate, client satisfaction, and instances where the partner went above and beyond to meet a client's needs. How does the provider vet its candidates? Are they tested? Does the partner collect detailed feedback from previous assignments? 

These KPIs provide invaluable clues as to the partner's reliability and dedication. That advice applies to both the service provider and the individuals they send you for consideration. Just because the company has a great reputation doesn’t mean their candidates are the exact fit you need at the moment. 


Additional Considerations

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Thoroughly compare pricing models, as staff augmentation can be billed in various ways (hourly, project-based, retainer). Depending on the nature of the work you need, one of those models can be the right one now and not next quarter. Factor in the potential savings of avoiding full-time hiring (benefits, taxes, recruitment) versus the costs of leveraging the augmentation partner.
  • Cultural Fit:  Does your IT staffing augmentation partner understand your company’s culture? The candidates they offer should integrate seamlessly with your workplace culture. Look for alignment in work ethic, communication style, and adaptability. This compatibility fosters effective teamwork and helps to avoid friction. 
  • Communication and Transparency: Proactive, open communication builds trust. Seek a partner with well-defined communication processes, regular updates, and clear escalation paths for addressing any potential issues. That includes making sure that your team has good communication with the partner’s liaison AND that the individuals they send know how to communicate on both sides of the equation. 

Important Note: Inquire about the augmentation partner's approach to data security and intellectual property protection. These measures are paramount to safeguarding your sensitive information. That includes ensuring that proper NDAs are in place, on both sides – yours and the staffing firm’s. 

By carefully evaluating these factors, you increase your chances of choosing the right IT staff augmentation partner that will not only provide the necessary talent, but also positively contribute to the overall success of your projects.


Role of Oversight and Management Support

What should you expect in terms of oversight and management of augmented team members? It depends… but when choosing the right IT staff augmentation partner, you should make sure that everyone - your onsite team, the staffing partner, and any workers the place with you - are crystal clear on who is responsible for managing which aspects of the worker’s role on your team. Your right-fit IT staffing augmentation partner should establish the following: 

  • Clear Expectations and Goal Setting: Collaborate closely with the client company to define project objectives, deliverables, and timelines for the augmented staff. This ensures everyone, including the augmented workers, has a shared understanding.
  • Regular Performance Reviews: Establish a routine review process (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly) to assess performance aligned with the client's priorities. This includes feedback from both the client and the augmented worker.
  • Ongoing Communication and Support: Maintain open communication channels. This involves:
    • Regular check-ins with placed workers, fostering a sense of support and addressing any potential concerns or needs.
    • Maintaining clear communication with the client company to ensure alignment and address issues quickly.
  • Professional Development: Provide opportunities for augmented workers to develop their skills and stay updated on industry trends, even while on assignment with a client.
  • Conflict Resolution: Implement processes for addressing disputes that may arise either between augmented workers and the client company or internally within the augmented team.
  • Knowledge Transfer: Facilitate knowledge sharing between augmented workers and their client teams. This promotes long-term value for the client even after augmentation ends.
  • Administrative and HR Support: Handle essential administrative tasks including payroll, benefits, time-off management, and any required compliance paperwork.

Best Practices and Strategies:

  • Dedicated Account Managers: Assign account managers to each client relationship for clear accountability and streamlined communication.
  • Performance Tracking Tools: Utilize project management tools or specific software to track progress, hours, and deliverables, enhancing visibility for both the augmentation company and the client.
  • Cultural Integration: Emphasize the integration of augmented workers into the client's company culture through participation in relevant meetings, team-building events, and access to the client's collaboration tools.
  • Proactive Problem Solving: Encourage an environment where challenges are identified early. Develop processes for swift issue resolution or escalation.

Balancing Oversight and Client Autonomy:

Striking the right balance is essential. IT staff augmentation companies need to provide the necessary level of management and support to their workers while also respecting the client company's autonomy and established workflow. This open collaboration ensures the success of both the augmented talent and the project.

A structured approach ensures comprehensive coverage of all critical aspects to consider when selecting an IT staff augmentation partner, aiming to guide readers in making informed decisions that align with their specific business needs and goals.

Choosing the right IT staff augmentation partner will provide your organization with the skills you need in a flexible, scalable and efficient way. They’ll have the depth of bench to offer the right team members when you need them, taking the burdens of HR and hiring off your plate. Following the advice above will help you get the greatest benefits of IT staff augmentation. 


Rich Wanden

As Chief Customer Success Officer, Rich oversees Accelerance marketing and sales operations globally with a focus on helping customers make the best decisions for choosing a software development team and working together. Prior to joining Accelerance, Rich has worked in management consulting, IT advisory and...

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