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Staff Augmentation vs Consulting: What’s the Better Choice?

by | July 27, 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving business world, you need to be more efficient, flexible, and technologically advanced than ever before.  

But how do you keep up the pace and stay on track with all your projects? 

Well, here’s the thing: About 92% of G2000 companies use some sort of IT outsourcing services to achieve their targets. 

That’s because staff augmentation, consulting, and other similar professional services can help you reach your goals in a timely and cost-efficient way.  

But a few important questions you need to answer before you decide to outsource are: Is staff augmentation or consulting better for your business needs? What is the difference between staff augmentation, managed services, and consulting? What benefits do they come with? 

In this blog post, we’ll answer these and other questions, focusing mainly on staff augmentation vs consulting. Let’s dive in! 

What is Staff Augmentation? 

Staff augmentation is a strategy that involves hiring a third-party service that provides temporary help. This involves adding skilled specialists to your existing team so you can optimize project execution while maintaining flexibility and control over your workforce. 

This short-term solution aims to meet your needs for a specific project or fill the skills gap you’re currently facing.  

IT staff augmentation services are commonly used when a development team requires experts with specific skills for a particular project. It is a great way to supplement the existing team and ensure project requirements are met efficiently. 

Benefits of Staff Augmentation 

Staff augmentation is a great way to find the help you need without committing to full-time employees. It also comes with other benefits like: 

  • Easy access to specialized skills: With staff augmentation, you don’t have to vet through thousands of candidates to find the experts that you need. Instead, this service provides quick and easy access to the talent you’re looking for. By augmenting your team with these professionals, you gain access to their expertise, allowing you to tackle complex projects and achieve better outcomes. 
  • Increased flexibility and scalability: With staff augmentation, you can easily scale up or down depending on your needs. This means you can quickly get access to employees on a short-term basis when you need them for as long as you need them. The best part? You are not committing to hiring them long-term. So, once the workload decreases, you don’t have to worry about any of the obligations that typically come with a full-time employment contract.  
  • Greater cost-effectiveness: With staff augmentation, you only have to pay for the additional employees when they’re required. Imagine how much you can save by skipping the whole lengthy recruitment and training process!  Additionally, staff augmentation providers are more affordable than consulting firms as they charge hourly, while consultants usually have a set fee for their services. 
  • Better control: Staff augmentation enhances your existing team with the expert help you need the most. This means your project manager can focus all their attention on important project milestones, meeting deadlines, and other crucial aspects.  
  • Low risk: Augmented staff members get integrated into your team. This means they are required to follow all your internal security measures, and the risk of a security breach, data, and identity theft is very low.  

Possible Limitations of Staff Augmentation 

While staff augmentation comes with numerous benefits, it can also pose a few challenges along the way. For example:  

  • Lack of strategic guidance: Hiring experts means you will spend minimum time on technical training. However, if the project you’re dealing with requires high-level strategic guidance and expertise, staff augmentation might not address those needs adequately.  
  • Limited knowledge transfer: As the augmented staff comes in for a short period, their knowledge might not be effectively shared with your existing team. That’s why you need to ensure this potential issue is addressed. To do that, you can create processes that facilitate effective knowledge transfer and collaboration between your in-house team and the outsourced staff.   
  • Potential integration challenges: Integrating augmented staff into your existing one could be challenging. There may be differences in work processes, communication styles, and team dynamics. That’s why you should establish clear expectations, foster effective communication channels, and provide support for the augmented staff. This will create a smoother integration process for the whole team.  

What is Project-based Consulting? 

Project-based consulting involves hiring a consulting agency to work on a specific project. Consultants usually provide advice, insights, and knowledge, helping you create more solid strategies and achieve growth. 

Most consultancies can provide advice on things like: 

  • Project management 
  • Project planning and design 
  • Staffing 
  • Customer service 

Project-based consultants are ideal if you need to maximize your time and resources as they bring in-depth expertise and diverse ideas. They can also help at any stage of the project and contribute to defining project parameters, scope, and requirements. In turn, your internal team can focus on other core business objectives.  

Advantages of Consulting 

Consulting services come with their own benefits, including: 

  • Strategic expertise and guidance: As agencies have vast experience in working with projects similar to yours, they can bring an expert approach and a fresher perspective to your business. This enables them to guide your overall strategy and project execution so you can make better decisions.  
  • Broad industry knowledge: As the consultants stay on top of industry trends and the latest developments, they can provide valuable insights that might not be readily available within your organization. This can help you come up with tailored solutions and strategies that align with your unique business needs.  
  • Comprehensive problem-solving: Consultants excel at solving complex business challenges. They also have an extensive network that they can tap into. This gives you access to additional resources, potential investors, customers, or industry partners. 
  • Proactive approach and project assurance: Bringing in top talent equipped with advanced tools and technology ensures your project is delivered without any delays and major obstacles. This provides peace of mind for businesses that handle projects crucial for their growth. Additionally, the proactive approach of most consulting agencies helps companies identify critical challenges before they even arise, helping them stay on top of their projects. 

Drawbacks of Consulting 

Project-based consulting services also impose a few potential drawbacks like:  

  • Higher costs: Since they provide more comprehensive expertise, consulting agencies are more expensive and likely to drain your budget. So, this might not be a good fit if you’re dealing with a less complex or smaller-scale project.  
  • Dependency on external expertise: If you rely on consulting services, you are more or less dependent on this external expertise. So, once your contract ends, you need to ensure that your internal team can continue implementing and maintaining the recommendations and strategies provided by the consultants. 
  • Longer project timelines: Consultants often conduct in-depth analyses and provide thorough recommendations, which require additional time for review and implementation. The end result? Longer project timelines and delayed execution. That’s why it’s important to have clear expectations and communication, so you’re on the same page about the project delivery.  
  • One-size-fits-all model: Some agencies might have pre-made strategies for handling client projects (especially if they have to handle many clients all at once). So, you need to ensure that their suggestions truly align with your business goals, as often, one-size-fits-all solutions can’t effectively address your unique business needs.  
staff augmentation services

Key Differences Between Staff Augmentation and Consulting 

Staff augmentation and consulting are essentially two different ways of getting assistance from an outsourcing company. 

Here are the key differences between the two: 

Purpose and Focus

  • Staff augmentation: This service provides temporary professional help to companies for specific projects in the short term. The aim here is to quickly fill resource gaps and enhance the existing team’s capabilities. 
  • Consulting: Consulting, on the other hand, offers specialized expertise and insights to address specific business challenges, improve processes, or develop strategies. The purpose is to provide strategic guidance and long-term solutions to support the client’s goals. 

Engagement Model and Project Duration

  • Staff augmentation: This outsourcing service follows a short-term engagement model, where professionals are hired on a temporary basis to work directly with the client’s team. The project duration can vary based on the specific requirements, ranging from a few weeks to several months. 
  • Consulting: Consultants often work closely with the client to develop and implement strategic initiatives, which usually take longer. The project duration can be more extensive, spanning several months or even years, depending on the complexity and scope of the project. 

Level of Involvement and Responsibility

  • Staff augmentation: In staff augmentation, the hired professionals integrate into the client’s team and operate under the client’s management. This means you retain full control over the project, and the augmented staff members only take on the specific roles and responsibilities assigned to them. 
  • Consulting: Consultant experts typically operate independently or as a separate team that collaborates with your organization. They are responsible for providing expert advice, analyses, and outcomes. Consultants may have a higher level of autonomy and decision-making authority, often working alongside the client’s team as trusted advisors.

Deliverables and Outcomes

  • Staff augmentation: The augmented staff’s primary focus is usually narrower. The deliverables typically revolve around completing their assigned tasks, aligning with specific milestones or objectives, and contributing to the client’s ongoing projects. 
  • Consulting: This type of service typically delivers strategic reports, recommendations, or actionable plans that have more of a top-down view approach. The outcomes may include process improvements, organizational changes, or the implementation of new strategies. Consultants aim to deliver long-term value and facilitate transformative changes within the client’s organization. 

Staff Augmentation vs. Consulting vs. Staffing vs. Managed Services 

Besides staff augmentation and consulting, you can take advantage of other professional outsourcing services. 

But what are the main differences between consulting and staff augmentation vs. professional services like staffing and managed services?   

Let’s take a look: 

  • Staffing: Such services involve finding and hiring employees on your behalf. Staffing agencies handle the recruitment and selection process to provide qualified candidates for various positions within your organization. Usually, this involves finding talent for long-term employment, with the aim of matching individuals with specific job requirements. 
  • Managed services: This entails outsourcing the management and operation of specific functions or processes to a third-party provider. This can include IT services, infrastructure management, cybersecurity, and more. Managed service providers take responsibility for delivering and maintaining these services, often under a service-level agreement (SLA). 

Choosing the Right Approach for Your Business

Still not quite sure whether consulting or staff augmentation is the better choice for you?

Here’s a quick overview of the two that can help you decide:

Factors Staff Augmentation Consulting
Project scope and complexity This is suitable for projects with defined scope and complexity where additional resources are needed to execute specific tasks. These services provide strategic guidance and problem-solving expertise for projects with broader scopes and complex challenges.
Available resources and internal capabilities Staff augmentation fills skill gaps by providing professionals to complement the client’s existing team. Consulting leverages external expertise to enhance your internal capabilities, bringing specialized knowledge and insights that may not be available in-house.
Budgetary constraints This is a cost-effective solution that can help you complete your projects without draining your budget. This option is more expensive, but it is usually cheaper than building an internal team.
Desired level of control and involvement You get full control over your project and stay involved in all key decisions. The augmented staff is ultimately under your management. The consulting team is autonomous, so you don’t have full control over the ongoing processes. However, you can closely monitor and communicate with the consultants to ensure they align with your vision and goals.
Examples of scenarios where the service is most suitable Suitable if you need to fill in gaps caused by employee turnover or scale up for short-term project demands. That’s a good option if you have the internal capacity to manage and oversee the project. Suitable if you lack a complete team with the necessary expertise to tackle a complex project and require external strategic guidance, problem-solving, and industry insights. That’s a good option if you need more holistic management of your project.

Real-World Case Studies 

At Scopic, we have vast experience in working on various staff augmentation projects. Here are a few notable software development outsourcing use cases where we helped clients by providing them with top-notch talent to supplement their in-house teams: 


staff augmentatio case study

Share911 is an emergency communication platform that helps emergency responders find the exact location of users who request assistance from 911.  

To create the platform, Share911 entrusted Scopic as a reliable software development partner. By working together with the company’s internal team, we helped build the cross-platform application from scratch. 

The solution has features like easy reporting of emergencies, fast communication between critical staff, real-time notifications to first responders, and more. 

MD Ally

staff augmentation case study

MD Ally provides assistance to non-critical patients who call 911. The platform offers features like live conference calls and real-time access to various services. To create the platform, MD Ally used Scopic’s technical staff augmentation services.  

We created some of the platform’s key functionalities like: 

  • Twilio video, audio, and interactive voice response features 
  • Ability to add a translator, pharmacy, or other parties to the calls 
  • Adding encounter notes and documentation to track vital patient information  
  • Escalating issues to 9-1-1 services  
  • SMS notifications for patients and providers 
  • Easy file uploads so patients and EMTs can share information with ease 


LasikPlus App

LasikPlus has vision centers equipped with LASIK medical technology all over the US. To enhance their online presence, the client used Scopic’s software development services 

Our developers helped their internal team create a user-friendly website. LasikPlus provided Scopic with its own UX/UI that helped our developers come up with a custom theme and several templates with different building blocks. By joining forces, we successfully created a visually appealing website with a sleek user interface. 

Unleashing the Power of Staff Augmentation and Consulting 

Understanding the differences between software development staff augmentation and consulting is essential for making informed decisions that align with your project goals and business needs. While staff augmentation might work for smaller projects, consulting is better if you want to bring strategic expertise into more complex projects. 

At Scopic, we specialize in staff augmentation services, providing skilled professionals to augment your team and propel your projects forward. With our pool of expert talent and flexible engagement models, we are here to help you meet your software development and marketing needs.  

Contact us today to explore how our staff augmentation services can fuel your project’s success. 

About Creating Staff Augmentation vs Consulting Guide

This guide was authored by Veselina Lezginov, and reviewed by Nhat Bui, Technical Lead at Scopic.

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.

If you would like to start a project, feel free to contact us today.
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