IT Staff Augmentation vs Consulting: Which One Do You Need?

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Julia Sakovich , Author at Geomotiv
Published: Mar 20, 2023

When planning to launch a new software product or modernize an existing app, the question of where to find experts with relevant skills can become a rather difficult question. If we have to answer briefly, we will say: “Well, it depends.” And it is so. The answer depends on many factors, including the level of involvement you expect from external specialists, the composition of your in-house team, your resources, your budget, etc. And, of course, it’s better to consider each case individually. Many companies have a choice between staff augmentation vs consulting. And in this article, we will tell you more about these services so you can decide.

Today, when businesses work with IT staffing agencies or consulting firms if they do not want to expand their in-house teams with new employees or if they need to get a vision from outside. For example, even if you have an in-house development team, you can establish cooperation with a consulting agency that will help you to develop the right strategy for your project realization, define project goals or provide post-launch support.

At the same time, when there is a lack of team members with the relevant skills for a project realization, you can opt for staff augmentation. In this case, a specialist (or specialists) who will be officially employed by your software partner will join your project team to fulfill the set tasks.

By looking at staff-augmentation vs consulting, you will notice these approaches are quite different. But both have their own peculiarities, making them good choices in other cases.

What is staff augmentation?

Staff augmentation is one of the most popular models of organizing interaction with remote programmers, especially when a client already has an in-house development team. Still, in-house resources are insufficient to realize a particular project. In such a case, establishing cooperation with a reliable vendor with access to a vast pool of talents can be a perfect way out.

Benefits of staff augmentation

Although the specialists whom you “rent” will join your development team, they will officially stay the employees of your software partner. And though you can execute full control over their work, you will be free from all administrative tasks related to the hiring process. As a result, you can focus directly on the project's needs and other core business tasks, while a vendor will be responsible for all the required rest.

At Geomotiv, we offer IT staff augmentation and will be happy to provide our talented developers with outstanding skills who will help you realize your project!

What is consulting?

IT consulting, also known as project-based consulting, is defined as hiring consulting experts who can provide support at different stages of your project realization. As a rule, these experts can help you with such tasks as requirement setting, conceptualization, project planning, or market analysis. Companies that offer consulting services have employees with diverse expertise and a good understanding of the peculiarities of different markets.

consulting vs staff augmentation

When you are looking for consultants for your project, you need to understand that these specialists won’t be your permanent staff. Usually, consultants are hired for specific tasks. For example, you want to launch an app for a healthcare market but do not have relevant expertise. In such a case you can establish cooperation with a software app development company that provides consulting services and has relevant expertise to help you better adjust your product functionality to the target audience's needs.

Consulting services can bring specific expertise to your project and add huge value.

Staff augmentation vs consulting: Advantages and disadvantages

Considering different business cooperation models, you know each has its pluses and minuses, which will be perceived differently in other cases.

Benefits of staff augmentation:

  • Cost-effectiveness. You pay only for the services that you need. Your IT partner covers overhead costs.
  • Possibility to focus on core business tasks instead of all the tasks related to hiring and recruitment. A vendor will perform all hiring tasks.
  • Possibility to work with the world’s best experts. There are no borders when you work with remote developers. And if you cooperate with a good vendor, you can get access to an extensive pool of specialists.
  • Easy team scaling. With the staff augmentation model, you can easily add new specialists anytime.

Minuses of staff augmentation:

  • Lack of knowledge about your company. Even though you may hire specialists with outstanding tech skills that will be of great use to your project, you still need to allocate additional time and resources and explain to your new team members the peculiarities of your business processes and the company’s values.
  • Integration with your team. When you already have an in-house department and new people join the project, it is senseless to expect them to become whole in no time. Your existing team and new staff need to adapt to each other and adjust their work to new conditions.
  • New management requirements. When you expand your team, even with the help of augmentation, you need to add new resources to manage newcomers.

Advantages of consulting:

  • Time-efficiency. When you hire a consulting agency, you can assign them some specific tasks, and while specialists are working on them, you can focus more on other processes, which helps you to save time and use it smartly.
  • Proactivity. Good consultants will help you to detect risks before they become real problems. Thanks to this approach, you can protect your business from numerous mistakes.
  • Short-term solutions. Sometimes you may need support with some questions as soon as possible, and you do not have inner specialists to handle your tasks. When you have a consulting team, such tasks can quickly be fulfilled. And you do not need to expand your in-house team with new specialists.

Disadvantages of consulting:

  • Higher costs. First of all, we need to highlight that rates of developers and other experts seriously differ based on the region where they are based. Nevertheless, suppose you are choosing between staff augmentation vs consulting within one region, as a rule. In that case, consulting services will be more expensive than adding new staff following the augmentation model. It is explained by the fact that in the staff augmentation model, you pay each specialist separately (and can hire just one developer, for example). But consulting services require a wide range of various skills and expertise and all the experts should be paid. That’s why it’s better to think twice about whether you want to engage a consulting agency at the early stages for low-budget projects.
  • No full-time availability. As a rule, each consulting team works with more than one client simultaneously. That’s why communicating with consultants is not always possible, even when you have an urgent need.
  • Universal approaches. Staff augmentation allows you to find entirely individual approaches to your projects. With consulting agencies, the situation can be a bit different. Sometimes, they already have pre-made tactics and strategies for multiple projects. Of course, consulting teams work with each project in such a way that will be fully tailored to the client's needs. But it is necessary to check in advance what reputation and approaches a consulting agency has. And here, clients’ reviews can help you.

Key differences between IT staff augmentation and consulting

Staff augmentationConsulting
CostsCheaper than consultingMore expensive than staff augmentation but still more feasible than creating an in-house team
TrainingNew staff needs to learn inner processes and corporate valuesNo need for it
Management and controlYou need to manage and control new team membersYou are free from these responsibilities
CommunicationYou can always communicate with your staff membersThe team will be available only at a set time
FlexibilityThis model is very flexible and allows you to hire new experts or stop your cooperation when it is requiredThe flexibility is rather limited as the team needs to include particular positions

When to go with staff augmentation?

This model is known for its great flexibility and cost-effectiveness. It will be appropriate for practically every project when you need more inner resources and want experts with specific skills and knowledge. You can work with the best developers worldwide who understand some particular business aspects and tech tools.

When to go with consulting?

Project-based consulting will be a good choice when you are building a project for a business domain that is quite new for you and you feel that your team needs to gain knowledge. Consultants can help you to choose the right strategy, to develop good processes, and to find the best technologies to use. They also can support you during the development process and after the product launch. But here, bearing the costs of such services and ensuring that such expenses fit your budget is essential.

consulting vs staff augmentation

Staff augmentation vs consulting: How to understand which option is better?

When considering different models of cooperation with external developers, you need to consider several factors. We’ve prepared a list of aspects to analyze to make the right decision.

  • Your team. It will be crucial for you to understand your team's strong and weak sides. Your objective assessment should be an important basis for determining what type of external assistance you need.
  • Budget. The project budget is a core factor in making a lot of decisions. When considering various cooperation models, you need to clearly understand the amount you are ready to allocate for the services provided by external experts.
  • Vendor. When you have chosen the model that looks the most appealing to you, it is essential to devote your time to searching for a suitable partner that will be able to provide you with the highest quality of services and will share similar business values. At Geomotiv, we always try to stay as flexible as possible and offer the most convenient approaches to our clients that will ensure the most efficient cooperation for both sides. You can read more about our working principles here.

Final thoughts

Staff augmentation vs consulting can become a severe dilemma for some businesses that do not have previous experience working with vendors following these models. Both types of services have substantial benefits, but, as it is pretty logical, they are associated with some clear disadvantages and limitations. They can be appropriate in different cases, each of which should be analyzed individually.

Nevertheless, the critical thing that we want you to bear in mind is that these approaches are not mutually exclusive. They can greatly complement each other and provide companies interested in the highest quality of their software projects with new opportunities. They both can open access to a rich pool of talents with outstanding skills, a deep understanding of the latest technology and tools, and expertise in various business domains.

If you feel that you need to enrich your project with external specialists but are not sure what model is the most appropriate for your situation, at Geomotiv, we can help you to make the right choice based on the needs of your project. We can also augment your in-house development department with seasoned remote programmers or create a dedicated development team per your requirements.

To discuss any possible forms of cooperation, please, fill in the online form available on our website. We will reach you back as soon as possible after analyzing your request.

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