Comprehensive Guide to Software Development Staff Augmentation

by | February 6, 2024

In today’s tech-driven world, there’s an increasing demand for experienced software developers, but studies show that building an in-house team comes with more obstacles than expected.  

In the United States, employers were only able to hire 6 for every 10 open tech positions in 2019. In addition, the time-to-fill for app software developers averaged 81 days, reaching up to 100 days with onboarding and notice periods. What if a company can’t wait 3 months to add a software developer to their team? 

With companies facing a technology talent deficit, software development staff augmentation has been the key to accessing quick talent. 

Let’s explore what software team augmentation entails, how the staffing model works, and how to plan for successful software team augmentation. 

What is Staff Augmentation in Software Development? 

Software development staff augmentation is an outsourcing model that allows companies to hire external talent as an on-demand service. Software developers can be hired as part-time or full-time contractors, depending on the needs of the company. This hiring model gives companies access to global tech talent with minimal hiring time and an hourly payment basis. 

Software Staff Augmentation vs. IT Staff Augmentation vs. Technology Staff Augmentation 

These terms are often used interchangeably, but they have slight differences in their areas of focus: 

 

  • Software staff augmentation, as discussed above, involves hiring external software developers to help companies meet their development goals. 
  • IT staff augmentation also involves hiring contractors but includes a wider range of IT roles, including network administrators, system analysts, cybersecurity experts, database administrators, and more.  
  • Technology staff augmentation is the broadest term and includes software developers, IT roles, and other technology-related positions. 

Main Benefits of Software Development Staff Augmentation 

Dedicated software development augmentation teams offer companies numerous benefits, including: 

 

  • Access to a global talent pool: Companies that are open to remote contract work have access to global talent with the skills their development projects require. This helps them tap into a specialized global pool that they may not have had access to otherwise. 
  • Saves time: Most companies need quick solutions to their software development needs. (Who has time to wait 3 months to grow their team?) Software staff augmentation has quick hiring processes and often doesn’t require much training. 
  • Cost-efficient solution: Hiring external contractors reduces overhead costs when compared to in-house employees. Since this hiring model typically pays on an hourly basis, businesses only pay for the time they require. 
  • Flexibility: Businesses can hire developers with certain skills for specific projects, making it ideal for both short- and long-term projects.  
  • Scalability: Software engineering staff augmentation allows businesses to scale up and down quickly depending on project demands. 
  • Risk mitigation: Hiring external developers helps mitigate the risks associated with hiring in-house employees, such as risking a poor culture fit or hiring an under-skilled employee. When you hire hourly contractors, you can find a good fit without the commitment of a full-time employee. 

Understanding Software Team Augmentation Staffing Model 

Opting for the software team augmentation staffing model may seem intimidating to companies that have only ever hired in-house employees. However, the process is much less intimidating than many think. Let’s explore how this staffing model works, when to consider team augmentation, and the types of roles that are in high demand. 

How Does Software Team Augmentation Work? 

Software development team augmentation is quick and simple, making it an appealing choice for many companies. As with any hiring process, companies must identify their goals and project requirements. This helps them determine what specialized skills they require, the time requirements, and how many developers they need for the project. 

Once this is defined, businesses must find contractors that possess all the skills they require. Businesses can hire individual freelancers, or they can work with a software development company that offers these types of services. The advantage of working with a remote software company is that they have an experienced development team with diverse skill sets ready to take on projects. 

Once an agreement has been made with the external software developers, they can be onboarded to new projects. Since software engineering staff augmentation relies on remote work, having clear and open communication about project requirements is crucial to the success of a business’ project. 

When to Consider Team Augmentation 

When is software team augmentation necessary? 

Here are some of the signs that your business could benefit from hiring an external software developer: 

 

  • You need to quickly expand your team: There are many reasons why a company may need quick solutions; they may have a rapidly growing client userbase or have team members that are suddenly out for an extended period. 
  • You need a specific skill set: Some projects require special skills that are hard to find locally in a short amount of time. Having access to global talent means you can find solutions to all your development needs. 
  • You need flexibility: Bringing on every specialist as a full-time employee is expensive, especially if you only have temporary workload surges. Having access to software professionals when you need them means you have flexibility to hire them for specific projects or roles when you see fit. 
  • You need to meet tight deadlines: The market is constantly changing, and your business may need quick results in a short amount of time. To streamline the process, you can hire professionals who require little onboarding and training. 
  • Lack of internal capacity: If your in-house team is already at full capacity, you may need someone to step in to help with additional responsibilities. This prevents the need to hire a full-time employee and reduces burnout in your existing team. 
  • You need to cut costs: As mentioned, team augmentation is a cost-effective solution that reduces overhead costs. If you need talent but don’t have the budget for a full-time employee, a part-time contractor may be the right option. 

Types of Roles and Skills Typically Augmented 

Common roles in software development staff augmentation include: 

 

  • Front-end developers: Front-end software developers specialize in building the user experience and user interface of a website. They focus on a range of areas, including cross-browser compatibility, responsive web design, testing and debugging, and the implementation of dynamic features. 
  • Back-end developers: Back-end software developers build and maintain the server side of software systems. The behind-the-scenes work may include databases, server-side programming languages, API development, and implementing security best practices. 
  • Full-stack engineer: Full-stack engineers are experts in both front- and back-end development. This means they can work on the entire web development stack, making them a great option for businesses that require expertise in both areas. 
  • DevOps engineer: DevOps engineers have knowledge in both software development and IT. Their key responsibilities include automation, continuous integration, monitoring and logging, and cloud computing, among others. 
software team augmentation

Software Development Staff Augmentation Compared to Different Models of Software Development Outsourcing  

There are different outsourcing models that companies can choose from, with popular options including: 

 

  • Project-based: Project-based outsourcing focuses on individual projects with defined deliverables and outlines. In this model, the client delegates the project to the vendor, making them responsible for developing the entire project. 
  • Dedicated team: A dedicated team is a model where a team of external developers work closely with the client’s in-house team to complete a project. This model relies on cooperation and communication between both parties. 
  • Staff augmentation: Staff augmentation helps companies leverage external talent as an on-demand service. This is usually done on a temporary or part-time basis for projects that require special skill sets. 
  • Offshore development centers: These centers are offices set up in different countries that operate under the same brand. This integrated business model can be used by both startups and large businesses. 
  • Managed services: This refers to the practice of hiring a third-party service provider to assume responsibility for the management and operation of specific functions and processes. Managed services help companies focus on core functions. 
  • Freelance marketplaces: These are online platforms for companies to meet and engage with freelancers with specific skill sets. This model is great for temporary projects. 

 

To better understand the differences between these outsourcing models, let’s take a look at some of their defining characteristics: 

 

Outsourcing Model 

Project-Based 

Dedicated Team 

Staff Augmentation 

Offshore Development Centers (ODC) 

Managed Services 

Freelance Marketplaces 

Key Characteristics 

Entire project is outsourced  

Vendor responsible for end-to-end delivery  

Client should provide detailed project requirements 

Outsourcing partner provides a team that exclusively works for the client 

Team acts as an extension of the client’s in-house team 

 

Skilled professionals are hired to augment the client’s existing team 

Professionals work under client’s management 

 

Dedicated development center in another country 

Leverages cost advantages of offshoring 

 

Specific software services or operations are managed by the outsourcing partner 

Maintains software so client can focus on core tasks 

 

On-demand talent platforms 

Recruit temporary workers for certain tasks 

 

Control Level 

Low 

Client has limited control over day-to-day operations 

High 

Client manages the team directly 

 

Very High 

Professionals integrate into the client’s existing team 

 

Moderate to High 

Client has significant control, but with geographical limitations 

 

Low to Moderate 

Depends on the scope of services outsourced 

High 

Client works closely with freelancers to meet project requirements 

Cost Efficiency 

High 

Fixed cost for the entire project 

Moderate 

Costs vary with team size and duration 

 

Variable 

Based on the number and expertise of staff 

Often paid on an hourly basis 

 

High 

Reduced operational and labor costs 

 

Variable 

Various pricing models available; per device, per user, monthly, etc. 

Variable 

Freelancers typically set their own hourly rate 

Dependent on expertise 

Flexibility 

Moderate 

Flexibility depends on outsourcing company, but changes can be difficult and costly 

High 

Works closely with client, making it easy to scale and adapt to changes 

 

High 

Quickly scale up or down based on project needs 

 

Moderate 

Requires time to set up but offers long-term flexibility 

 

Low to Moderate 

Depends on contract terms and service scope 

 

High 

Quickly scale up or down based on project needs 

 

Ideal Project Type 

Projects with clear requirements and deliverables 

Long-term projects 

Continuous, scalable projects that require ongoing maintenance 

 

Projects requiring specific skills temporarily 

Best cost-efficiency for short-term projects 

Large-scale operations 

Continuous development needs 

 

Routine operations 

Non-core functions of the business 

Management and maintenance 

Projects requiring specific skills temporarily 

Short-term projects 

Risk Level 

Moderate 

Success depends on outsourcing company and project clarity 

Low to Moderate 

Dependent on team management and integration 

 

Low 

Client retains overall control and direction 

 

Moderate to High 

Includes risks associated with offshore outsourcing 

Requires clear communication and project requirements 

Low 

Risk is largely dependent on service providers 

 

Low 

Success depends on freelancers, but client can supervise project closely 

 

 

How to Plan for Successful Software Team Augmentation? 

The goal should be for your augmented team to seamlessly integrate with your in-house team, but how? 

To help your team collaborate more effectively, you should define clear objectives and expectations. This helps both external partners and in-house employees better understand how they should work together, what deadlines should be met, and the overall purpose of the project. Since external developers are new to the project, make sure to properly onboard them so all expectations are clear. 

You should also establish clear communication channels between your augmented team and your in-house team. This may include platforms for communication, finding a time to collaborate if members are in different time zones, and setting clear expectations on the level of communication you and your team require. 

Common Challenges Companies May Face 

Companies may face the following challenges during software development team augmentation: 

 

  • Finding the right talent: With software development in high demand, it may be difficult to find professionals with the specialized skills that your project requires. Finding candidates may seem taunting in some outsourcing methods, such as freelance marketplaces, where companies must consider hundreds of profiles that may or may not be qualified. By working with a software development company with a large talent pool, it’s easier to find qualified candidates that match the needs of your business. 
  • Communication: Great communication can be the difference between a successful project and a not-so-great collaboration. Your new external contractor will already have the skills your project requires, but you need to communicate how they should be utilizing them. This ensures successful project delivery and helps both you and the developer feel more comfortable with this new alliance. 
  • Time zone availability: Global remote workers may be operating in different time zones than your team, creating a lack of real-time communication. To address this, find a schedule that’s comfortable for your in-house team and your external contractor. A lot of companies find it helpful to keep meetings to a minimum but prioritize communication channels, such as Slack or Teams. 
  • Legal issues: A quality and detailed contract can help prevent breaches of security and various staffing challenges. Make sure your contract outlines your specific business goals but also includes clauses that prevent legal complications. This includes penalties for non-compliance, liability clauses, and non-solicitation clauses. 
software staff augmentation

How to Choose the Right Vendor or Partner for Team Augmentation 

When a company decides to augment their software team, they must find a vendor that understands their unique business needs, but how? 

Before choosing a partner, consider the following: 

 

  • Evaluate their experience: You should check the vendor’s work history and professional expertise to ensure they can handle the unique requirements of your project. You can do this by reading reviews, checking their portfolio and credentials, and making sure the vendor has experience in the specific field you require. 
  • Assess contract types: Every vendor has distinct contract types available. It’s important to find a partner who’s open to tailoring work agreements to your company’s unique business needs rather than a standard, one-size-fits-all approach. 
  • Check their communication protocols: Just as you need clear communication with your new contractors, you should develop defined communication protocols with your potential staffing partner. This may include how often they’re checking in, how long it takes them to respond to your inquiries, and how fast they can tackle potential challenges. 
  • Check their security measures: Staffing agencies should prioritize security measures so their clients aren’t put at risk. This includes rigorous hiring processes, data security procedures, and training their staff on intellectual property. 
  • Find the right cultural fit: The staffing partner that you choose should assess your company’s culture to provide you with candidates that match your expectations. This includes language, values, the ability to handle time-sensitive workloads, and essentially, finding a candidate that can seamlessly integrate into the team. 

 

Best Practices for Onboarding and Managing Augmented Software Staff 

You’ve found the perfect vendor and candidates for your next project, so now what? 

Despite this being a temporary hire, proper onboarding increases the chances of a successful end project, helping to engage employees and opening an opportunity to work together again in the future.  

Here are some onboarding and managing tips to consider: 

 

  • Introduce new members to your team: To improve collaboration between your in-house team and external contractors, properly introduce new hires to your team. Many companies skip this step since it’s a temporary position, but it’s a great way to create a friendly and efficient working environment, especially when they work remotely. 
  • Provide resources quickly: Contract developers typically require little training, as they’re already equipped with the skills necessary to work on the project. To streamline the process, make sure you have all the required resources ready so there are no delays in their tasks. This includes setting up communication tools and giving them access to internal and external tools. 
  • Mitigate risks and legal compliance: There are many legal and ethical considerations that should be outlined in the contract. That said, all necessary requirements should also be discussed during onboarding. This includes understanding contractual agreements, ensuring compliance with labor laws and regulations, and addressing intellectual property rights. 
  • Monitor performance: You should continuously monitor their performance and provide constructive criticism when necessary. This ensures they understand the project’s requirements, allowing you to address any major changes or misunderstandings early on. 

Our Expertise in Software Development Staff Augmentation and Case Studies   

At Scopic, we have a network of experienced developers that spans over 60 countries. Our global talent pool of developers provides specialized skills and exceptional IT staff augmentation services to help you meet project deadlines. To ensure success, we work with clients to understand their unique project requirements, choose suitable specialists, onboard the extended team, and manage the remote staff. 

Here are some of our previous projects that we’ve worked on: 

MD Ally

MD Ally provides real-time telehealth support that connects non-emergency callers to telehealth and local community resources. MD Ally partnered with Scopic to create this platform, enabling our developers to create some of the platform’s key functionalities. We implemented Twilio video, audio, and interactive voice response features, among other upgrades, to improve the platform’s functionality. 

LasikPlus

LasikPlus, a company that provides laser eye surgery, needed a website that improved the user experience and cultivated trust. Scopic rebuilt their application in collaboration with the client’s internal team. The result was a fully responsive and engaging website for visitors to find out more about laser eye surgery and drive sales. 

Thankster

Thankster had a vision of creating personalized greeting cards that were efficient in the corporate world. To bring this idea to life, Scopic’s team worked alongside Thankster’s development team to build the platform, creating a user-friendly workflow that’s easy to navigate. 

At Scopic, we also have software development consulting to help you navigate your software goals and assist in strategic planning. Understanding the differences between staff augmentation vs consulting may be confusing, but in general, staff augmentation is more common for smaller projects, while consulting is better if you want to bring strategic expertise to more complex projects. 

Final Thoughts and Key Takeaways 

Dedicated software development augmentation teams help bring development ideas to life, crafting unique solutions for your distinct business needs. At Scopic, we have 15+ years of experience in the software industry, with the right tools and knowledge to bring together existing teams and external developers for a tailored solution.  

Contact us if you’re ready to collaborate on your current or upcoming software development projects. 

Software Staff Augmentation FAQs

How to effectively integrate augmented team members into existing teams?

To integrate augmented team members into existing teams, you should properly introduce them to your team, clearly define the roles and responsibilities, set communication protocols, and provide the necessary resources. 

Can team augmentation be a long-term strategy or is it just for short-term projects?

Team augmentation can be for both long-term and short-term projects. The decision between the two should be based on project scope, budget, skill requirements, company objectives, and workforce flexibility. 

What are the cost implications of team augmentation?

Team augmentation is typically a cost-effective solution, as you can hire great talent without needing to bring them on as a full-time employee. That said, cost implications can vary depending on factors like the type of roles required, the duration of the engagement, and the specific needs of your project or organization. 

How to measure the success of team augmentation?

You can measure the success of team augmentation by analyzing productivity, project deliverables, quality of work, cost savings, return on investment, and flexibility. 

About Creating The Software Development Staff Augmentation Guide

This guide was authored by Baily Ramsey, and reviewed by Nhat Bui, a Technical Lead with experience in leading and delivering complex software and application development projects.

Scopic provides quality and informative content, powered by our deep-rooted expertise in software development. Our team of content writers and experts have great knowledge in the latest software technologies, allowing them to break down even the most complex topics in the field. They also know how to tackle topics from a wide range of industries, capture their essence, and deliver valuable content across all digital platforms.

Note: This blog’s images are sourced from Freepik.

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