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Shaun McGaugheySep 28, 2023 1:56:07 PM5 min read

Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Staff Augmentation

In a constantly evolving market landscape, product teams remain under pressure to innovate, develop, and deliver. By the end of 2020, there were around 8 million tech occupations in the US. By 2030, tech employment is expected to reach approximately 9 million, according to CompTIA. To meet the growing demand for skilled talent, many organizations are turning to staff augmentation as a strategic solution. Staff augmentation involves supplementing an existing in-house team with external talent on a temporary basis. The approach has quickly gained popularity for its ability to address various challenges uniquely faced by product teams. In this blog, we will break down the numerous benefits of using staff augmentation as well as some of the risks.

The benefits of staff augmentation

Staff augmentation provides a wide array of benefits to your organization. Among other advantages, the staffing model particularly helps with allowing your product teams to scale quickly and gain access to specialized talent. To determine whether staff augmentation fits your teams' needs, start by considering how it will add value to your future project with the list of benefits below.

Scalability and flexibility

One of the primary benefits of staff augmentation is the flexibility it provides to product teams. Companies can quickly scale their teams up or down based on project requirements, market changes, or budget constraints. This adaptability ensures that your team is always appropriately sized to meet the demands of the project without the long-term commitments associated with traditional hiring.

Access to diverse skillsets

Product development often requires a wide range of skills, from design and development to quality assurance and project management. Staff augmentation allows you to tap into a pool of diverse professionals with specialized expertise in various domains. This diversity in skill sets can significantly enhance your team's capabilities and help you address specific project needs effectively.

Reduced time-to-market

In today's competitive landscape, time-to-market is crucial. Staff augmentation can significantly reduce the time it takes to launch your product. By bringing in experienced professionals who are already well-versed in their roles, you can accelerate development processes, conduct more efficient testing, and ultimately get your product into the hands of customers faster.

Cost-effective solution

Hiring full-time employees can be expensive, especially when considering salary, benefits, and onboarding costs. Staff augmentation allows you to avoid these expenses while still accessing top talent. You can allocate your budget more efficiently by paying for expertise only when you need it, without the long-term financial commitments associated with permanent staff.

Mitigation of resource gaps

Product teams often face resource gaps during peak project periods or when dealing with unexpected challenges. Staff augmentation offers a solution to bridge these gaps quickly. Whether it's a sudden increase in workload or the need for specialized skills, augmented team members can step in seamlessly to keep the project on track.

Knowledge transfer

When you bring in external talent through staff augmentation, your in-house team can benefit from knowledge transfer. Experienced professionals can share best practices, industry insights, and the latest trends with your team. This cross-pollination of knowledge can lead to continuous improvement and increased expertise within your organization.

Risk mitigation

Relying solely on an in-house team can be risky, especially if your team lacks certain critical skills. Staff augmentation allows you to spread risk by tapping into external expertise. This not only reduces the risk associated with project failures but also provides a safety net in case of unforeseen challenges.

Focus on core competencies

By leveraging staff augmentation for specialized tasks, your core in-house team can concentrate on their core competencies. This leads to increased productivity and innovation, as your team can dedicate more time and energy to strategic aspects of product development.


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The risks of staff augmentation

In the dynamic realm of product development, it’s clear that staff augmentation can serve as a valuable strategy to enhance team capabilities and deliver exceptional products. However, while the benefits of staff augmentation are compelling, it's imperative to acknowledge and navigate potential risks effectively, which we break down below.

Integration challenges

Integrating external team members seamlessly into your existing product team can be challenging. Differences in work culture, communication styles, and processes may lead to friction and reduced efficiency if not managed properly.

Quality control

Maintaining consistent quality standards across a blended team of in-house and augmented staff can be complex. Differences in skill levels or communication barriers could affect the overall quality of work.

Dependency on external talent

Overreliance on external staff for critical tasks may result in a lack of in-house expertise. This dependency could become problematic if you need to make changes or address issues after the external team has completed their engagement.

Communication challenges

Effective communication is essential for project success. Time zone differences, language barriers, and communication tools may present challenges in maintaining clear and timely communication with augmented team members.

Knowledge transfer

While knowledge transfer is often cited as a benefit, it can also be a risk. If external team members do not document their work or transfer knowledge effectively, your organization may struggle to maintain and build upon the work completed by augmented staff.

Cultural fit

Differences in company culture and values between external staff and your organization can lead to friction and impact team cohesion. Ensuring a good cultural fit when selecting augmented team members is essential.

The value of partnering with a consulting firm

By embracing staff augmentation's scalability, access to diverse expertise, cost-effectiveness, and risk mitigation capabilities, organizations can take their product teams’ productivity to the next level. Nevertheless, it's crucial to remain vigilant about integration challenges, quality control, data security, and dependencies on external talent.

One way to mitigate these risks is to partner with consulting firms specializing in the same type of work your organization already delivers. Consulting firms offer a unique blend of benefits beyond what traditional staffing agencies provide. Not only do they offer access to skilled professionals but also managerial support and subject matter expertise. What sets these firms apart from staffing agencies is the commitment to a team-based approach that fosters a sense of belonging and collaboration. This commitment extends to benefits, training, mentorship, and long-term career development opportunities, allowing your product team to meet its full potential.

In essence, staff augmentation carries no shortage of advantages, but its implementation must be balanced with a proactive approach to risk management. By considering partnerships with consulting firms that offer a more comprehensive approach to augmentation, your organization can harness its full potential while safeguarding project success, organizational growth, and the long-term commitment and development of your team members.


Shaun McGaughey

Shaun McGaughey is a Managing Director at Spur Reply with 15+ years of experience in delivering technology solutions. His expertise covers application development, cloud migration, marketing analytics, data strategy, agile project delivery and technology adoption.