Staff Augmentation vs. Project-based Consulting

Should you use staff augmentation or project-based consulting for your next software project?

Brian Adams on 03 November 2019

So, you want to build some software. But where do you start? Maybe you’re not ready to take on the large task of hiring a team internally. Of all the options out there for building your software, two of the most common are staff augmentation and project-based consulting. So what’s best for you, staff augmentation or project-based consulting?

What is Staff Augmentation?

Staff augmentation is when you hire a company to fill out gaps in your staff. The process is relatively simple: you call a staff augmentation company, discuss your project with them, and they find the personnel for your project. Those employees then come and work in your office. Their tenure is as long as agreed upon between you and the staff augmentation company.

Staff Augmentation Benefits

Staff augmentation has a significant number of benefits. You get qualified developers, working in your office, at your desired times, and on your desired projects. When something goes wrong, you’ve got immediate access to them and they can provide immediate feedback to you. If you’ve got an existing team, it’s easy for staff augmentation companies to provide you temporary employees who can easily assimilate with your team by being in your office for the workday.

Staff Augmentation Challenges

There are a lot of great benefits of staff augmentation, but they come at the expense of some significant drawbacks. By having new temporary employees in your office, you’re increasing the workload on your HR and IT departments. Those employees need spaces to work, employee badges, desks, monitors, and other equipment. These additional expenses can come at a significant cost for your company, not to mention that hourly rates are often higher for staff augmentation than project-based consulting.

  Staff Augmentation Project-based Consulting
Qualified Developers
In-office Work  
Your Hours  
Immediate Availability for Issues  
No Equipment and Desks  
No Additional HR Work  
Lower-cost  

What is Project-based Consulting?

Project-based consulting is also known as outsourcing. With outsourcing, your number of options increases. You may hire a single person to be a web developer, using a site such as Upwork. You could also outsource your work to a company overseas to try to save on cost. You can also use a local software development company as your consultants to build your software.

Project-based Consulting Benefits

Project-based consulting is almost exactly the opposite of staff augmentation. While you still get the same qualified developers working on whatever project you desire, there’s no need for HR, IT, or any other departments to get involved. Since the developers will work from their “home base,” there’s no need to provide desks or equipment. 

Project-based Consulting Challenges

While project-based consulting offers a lot of unique benefits versus hiring internal employees or using a staff augmentation company, there are still drawbacks. Typically, when working with a project-based consulting company, their developers work on their company’s hours. This means that they may not be available right away to answer questions, or they may work on multiple projects at once.

Choosing between staff augmentation and project-based consulting boils down to a preference on how you and your company prefer to work. If you and your company are fine working with remote employees and using video conferencing software for meetings, the cost savings with project-based consulting will provide a significant benefit. If all of your employees are in-house, or you’re trying to extend your existing team, staff augmentation is a great option.

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