Guide to development team augmentation

10 min read
November 15, 2022

$731 billion.

That’s the estimated global spending for outsourcing in 2023.

It’s a staggering amount—and proof that hiring developers from abroad is increasingly becoming the norm in the software industry.

But what if you’re not yet ready to go through the many obstacles in outsourcing?

Well, augmentation is a good compromise.

Instead of outsourcing everything to contractors, you import developers to boost your existing in-house team.

Read more about why you should consider team augmentation for your next project.

What is development team augmentation?

Development team augmentation, also called outstaffing, is an outsourcing method where you hire outside contractors to bolster your in-house team.

outstaffing infographic

Source: DECODE

Team augmentation aims to quickly expand your staff to tackle a big project or help with work during peak seasons.

For instance, say you need to implement a new app feature for the busy Christmas season. However, your existing team is already loaded with work.

A cost-effective option is to hire a part-time developer and add them to your team for a few months.

Sometimes, you can also outstaff to cover up any skill gaps in your team.

For example, let’s say you’re tackling a fintech project for the first time.

Rather than form a new team altogether, you can hire third-party fintech developers and subject matter experts, then integrate them into your existing team.

Staff augmentation is almost always temporary. However, depending on the project requirements, it could be a short-term or long-term arrangement.

One example of long-term outstaffing is hiring a developer to focus on app maintenance.

As you can see, outstaffing is distinct from traditional outsourcing because you don’t hand over tasks to an outside contractor.

Instead, it’s the other way around—you bring the service provider to the work.

Outstaffing vs. Outsourcing

Source: Lvivity

Often, third-party contractors are required to work on the client’s location. This is called onsite outsourcing.

The advantage of this approach is that you eliminate any time zone differences, thus improving collaboration and communication.

Of course, flying in a contractor to your office is an added expense, which is why it’s often done when hiring service providers in the same country (called onshoring).


Source: DECODE

More often, though, outstaffing is done via nearshoring. This is where you find developers from a nearby country, with a time zone difference of three hours or less.

Nearshoring ensures sufficient schedule overlap to make collaboration easy. Chances are, there are also minimal language and cultural barriers that could hinder collaboration.

Why you should consider development team augmentation

With outsourcing work to a dedicated development team being the popular route nowadays, why should you even consider team augmentation? Here are some strong arguments.

Access to talented developers

Like outsourcing, staff augmentation gives you access to a wider talent pool beyond your country. This is especially helpful in regions where app development skills aren’t as mature.

For example, let’s say you want to create a banking app but don’t have access to a cybersecurity expert.

A good option would be to simply hire a skilled contractor and add them to your team.

Tapping into an international talent pool is crucial now because the best developers in the world aren’t in North America or Western Europe anymore.

The ranking below shows that most of them hail from Asia and Eastern Europe:

Which country has the best developers list 1

Source: Future Processing

So if you’re an American company, augmenting your workforce with Croatian or Polish developers might be an excellent choice in the long run.

Also, having a big pool of talent to work with means you can be pickier. You’ll have a better chance of finding developers that are 100% in line with your requirements.

Flexible development team composition

Staff augmentation is one of the most flexible hiring approaches because it gives you a lot of control over your team composition.

A good approach here is to maintain an in-house team composed of core members, such as the project manager and lead developers.

Depending on your requirements, you can freely add or remove people from the group.

For instance, you can outstaff an analyst at the start of the project, then offload him when he’s no longer needed.

Or you can add testers later in development when you’re already doing QA testing.

This gives your team fluidity, enabling you to adapt your skill set to the task at hand. It’s also easier to manage a smaller team.

staff augmentation infographic

Source: DECODE

Furthermore, it also helps you control your costs significantly.

For instance, instead of hiring an Android developer in-house and paying them monthly, you can simply bring them in only when required.

Faster project deliveries

Staff augmentation gives you not only flexibility, but speed as well.

It allows you to immediately get the talent you need without going through the tedious hiring process and wondering whether the person you take on will fit in with your team in the long run.

And if you’ve ever hired someone in-house, you know how time-consuming it is. Here’s how long it takes to conduct the interview process alone:

average length of interview process table 1

Source: Pesto Tech

But when you outsource or outstaff, you can breeze through this. That means you can start with development work much faster.

Adding more human resources to your team also spreads out the workload. This allows your core members (such as team leads) to focus on their work instead of going beyond their roles.

The result? Your team can deliver better quality at a faster rate. No wonder focus and capacity are the top reasons companies outsource.

Reason for outsourcing chart 1

Source: You Team

As you can see from the graph above, the main reason companies outstaff is a reduction in costs. That’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in the following section.

Lower development costs

The main draw of outstaffing—as with any other kind of outsourcing—is its cost-effectiveness.

There are two reasons for this.

One, hiring in-house is much more expensive due to hidden expenses, such as benefits, insurance, taxes, equipment, and onboarding.

All of this adds up. You can end up paying up to 40% more on top of payroll costs, according to an Upwork study.

compensation costs vs true employment costs 1

Source: Upwork

The second reason is that developer rates aren’t equal globally.

For instance, an average North American developer can have an hourly rate of $70-$150. Contrast this to an Eastern European developer, who could charge only half of that amount.

But price isn’t always an indication of quality. You could potentially augment your staff with a skilled developer on par with their American counterpart at a fraction of the cost.

prices 1 1

Source: DECODE

That’s the reason outstaffing with DECODE is a great idea.

We’re located in Croatia, a country known for its pool of low-cost yet skilled developers.

Moreover, the country is part of Southeastern Europe, which is strategically located near Western Europe, and is also well connected to the East Coast of the US through air traffic.

For a more thorough discussion on why outsourcing to Croatia is a fantastic choice, check out our article here.

How to augment your development team

Now that you know the benefits of staff augmentation, you might want to try it. Here’s an overview of the steps you need to take.

Define your requirements

Before you begin looking for third-party developers to augment your team, you need to know exactly what you need.

Skipping this step is like hiring blind. You risk getting the wrong people or acquiring skills you’ll rarely require in the future.

Start by laying out your goals for outsourcing. What tasks do you need help with?

What are the deliverables required?

What timeline are you looking at?

How much is the budget for the project?

app team goals 1

Source: DECODE

Once you’ve considered your needs, look at your existing team and determine why you need to augment it. Is there a skill gap? Are some of your developers overloaded already?

At the end of this process, you should clearly understand the exact skills and roles you need to augment your team. This clarity allows you to hire the right people within your budget.

Select new team members

With your requirements clearly laid out, it’s time to search for and evaluate potential candidates.

At this point, you can choose to source them yourself. You can try traditional hiring approaches, like posting on job sites or your Facebook page.

You can also try freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr for potential hires.

Alternatively, you can look for an agency instead that will source and hire candidates on your behalf.

This done-for-you service is fantastic if you don’t have the time or experience to hire yourself.

If you go the agency route, this is how the typical hiring process will go:

typical hiring process

Source: Diceus

Regardless of your approach, it’s prudent to get involved in the interview process.

After all, these potential hires will work closely with your team, so it’s important to gauge if they’ll be a good fit.

Be sure to have some questions ready for the interview. This ensures you have similar responses from all candidates so that you can compare them much easier later.

Here are some to start with.

software developer interview 1

Source: Fellow

Above all, be objective and discerning. Make sure that the person you’re hiring is an excellent fit for your project, team, and processes.

Onboard new team members

Once you’ve hired your augmented staff, onboarding them to the team is the next step. You aim to help them settle into their role and collaborate seamlessly with everyone else.

In this regard, onboarding a member of augmented staff is no different from any other new hire. Here’s a breakdown of the common steps involved:

The 4 phases of the employee onboarding process

Source: Get Guru

The priority is to list all their responsibilities, including the expected deliverables and milestones.

Now would also be a good time to set up their workstation and give them controlled access to all files required to perform their tasks.

For instance, the IT department should provide them with login credentials to the project Git repository and knowledge base.

At the end of the onboarding, they should be able to perform their tasks independently. That’s when you know you’ve succeeded.

Provide support to new team members

Like any team member, your outsourced staff needs constant support from you and their peers to guarantee high productivity.

The key here is to communicate with them often. Set a reporting scheme in advance, detailing how often they should report their progress to you and through what channel.

You can also adopt a buddy system, which is indispensable in getting new members up to speed.

benefits of buddy system

Source: Entigrity

Here, you pair a new hire with an experienced in-house developer.

The assigned member would be responsible for supporting them—answering questions, checking their progress, or giving them feedback.

However, be careful not to micromanage your outsourced staff. It is a huge waste of your time and can lower the person’s morale, trust, and productivity.

Instead, your role as a client/manager is to empower them.

creating empowered teams 1

Source: Health Well Done

Instead of hovering over their heads, you give outsourced staff the space and freedom to do their work and solve problems independently.

Remember, augmented staff are just as important as your in-house developers. Treat them as such.

Is staff augmentation for you?

We hope you’ve seen the value of adopting the extended team model for your project. Indeed, it’s one of the most cost-effective and fastest ways to scale your team.

But despite the pros, the approach isn’t for everyone.

For bigger and more complex projects, a fully outsourced dedicated team is a better approach.

To learn more about this method and how it compares to the extended team model, check out our excellent article here.

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Written by

Mario Zderic

Co-founder and CTO

Mario makes every project run smoothly. A firm believer that people are DECODE’s most vital resource, he naturally grew into the role of People Operations Manager. Now, his encyclopaedic knowledge of every DECODEr’s role, and his expertise in all things tech, powers him to manage his huge range of responsibilities as COO. Part developer, and seemingly part therapist, Mario is always calm under pressure, which helps to maintain the office’s stress-free vibe. In fact, sitting and thinking is his main hobby. What’s more Zen than that?

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