Staff Augmentation vs Contractors: Make the Right Choice!


Julia Sakovich , Author at Geomotiv
Reviewed by Egor Zablotski, Director of Engineering at Geomotiv
Published: Apr 23, 2024

Today it is evident that the number of companies that decide to work with external programmers instead of expanding their in-house teams with new specialists is continuously growing. And it is interesting to note that among those businesses that turn to the services of remote developers, there are both tech and non-tech firms.

The key reasons that push businesses to work with IT staffing firms and freelancers are the lack of the required skills in-house and the desire to find the most comfortable terms of cooperation from a financial perspective.

But how do you decide when you have a choice of staff augmentation vs contractors? We recommend you attentively consider all the pluses and minuses of both approaches. It will help you understand the most appropriate model for your company. And to facilitate this task for you, we’ve gathered all the most essential information related to them in this blog post.

Staff Augmentation: What Is It, and When Do You Need It?

Before proceeding to the staff augmentation vs independent contractor comparison, let’s analyze the peculiarities of these models separately.

Staff augmentation can be defined as a model of cooperation with a vendor that includes filling in the existing gaps in the skillset of your staff and augmenting the capacity of your software project development.

When you see that your team does not include specialists who can cope with the whole range of tasks you have on your project, you can expand your tech team using the resources of the talent pool of your IT partner.

Speaking about this model, it would be sensible to pay attention to one of the related terms and its definition. What is the staff augmentation contractor meaning? In this context, it can be defined as an agency that offers outsourcing services and adopts this model.

As you can see from this explanation, staff augmentation allows you to enrich your team with new skills and knowledge with the help of the services provided by a vendor. And there is no need for you to cope with all headhunting, recruiting, onboarding, and training tasks associated with the traditional approach to hiring.

The core things you need to know about IT augmentation

  • Despite a staffing agency officially employing these specialists, you have full control over their work;
  • You can also participate in choosing the best candidates for the open positions. Initially, you need to share your requirements with a vendor, and the most appropriate experts will be offered for your consideration;
  • All the administrative questions will be solved by the company that will provide augmentation services to you;
  • You pay for the work done. A vendor will cover overhead costs.

The benefits of IT staff augmentation

Given the peculiarities of IT staff augmentation, we can define the following benefits:

  • Possibility to transfer responsibility related to hiring and recruitment to another entity;
  • Access to the world’s best experts without the necessity to work only with local specialists;
  • Possibility to cut costs and optimize your IT budget without quality deterioration thanks to the possibility to work with developers who are based in the regions that offer the most affordable rates; 
  • Quick and simple team scaling without any special effort from your side;
  • More time to concentrate on your core business goals as many tasks related to hiring and onboarding will be performed by your IT partner;
  • High-quality services thanks to the fact that developers will be entirely focused on your tasks.
Benefits of staff augmentation vs independent contractor

Pitfalls of staff augmentation

  • Time zone difference;
  • Language barrier;
  • Lack of knowledge about your company and team culture.

Though these pitfalls exist, good staffing agencies know how to help their clients mitigate their impact or avoid them.

Yes, we should admit that because you can work with developers from any corner of the world, it is highly likely that you and your developers will be based in different time zones. And it means that your working schedules won’t coincide.

Nevertheless, developers are usually flexible enough to organize their time, so you have enough overlap for online communication.

As for the language barrier, you have nothing to worry about. Though for many programmers, English is not a native language, they learn it. Moreover, you can always indicate strong language skills, among other important requirements for the specialists you seek. 

And, of course, when you want to get work of the highest quality, you should consider that those developers who have just joined your team should study the business context. Just bear it in mind when you are setting time frames and deadlines.

Let’s summarize when it is a good idea to opt for staff augmentation

  1. When you have a startup and need to work with a full-scale development team;
  2. When you want to build an additional software product, but you cannot allocate the resources from your key project to a new one;
  3. When you are going to launch a product for a specific market, it will be a good idea to work with a team located in this region;
  4. When you do not want to scale up your in-house staff and are looking for reasonably-priced software development services;
  5. When you do not want to allocate your resources to time-consuming hiring processes;
  6. When you are looking for some specific niche skills and a deep understanding of modern technologies;
  7. When you want to have control over your project;
  8. When you have a mid and long-term project.

At Geomotiv, we know how to organize cooperation with developers in the most comfortable way for businesses!

Pros and Cons of Working with Individual Contractors

We’d like to highlight that in this article, we will not compare staff augmentation vs contractor agency. Instead, we will focus on collaboration with individual contractors and freelancers.

Working with freelancers is a rather popular option these days. And it is pretty clear. The entire process of hiring looks relatively straightforward, and the costs of such services can be desirable. You can work with experts from all over the globe, which allows you to find developers with relevant skills and affordable rates. But, of course, there are some risks associated with this working model. Let's have a look at both sides of the coin more closely.

Advantages of establishing cooperation with freelancers and individual contractors

  • Access to a vibrant pool of specialists from all corners of the world;
  • Great flexibility in terms of deadlines, working hours, payments methods, and other aspects of your collaboration;
  • Attractive rates (but here it is essential to understand that rates will seriously differ depending on the region where you are looking for developers).

Disadvantages of individual contractors

  • Deficient level of trust;
  • Low commitment (freelancers can work on several projects at once, and you may not even know it and you have no right to control it);
  • Very often lack of motivation to work fast;
  • Lack of understanding of corporate values.

All these disadvantages are related to the fact that a freelancer or an individual contractor is not part of your team. This person works separately and doesn't feel a strong responsibility for the company’s success. Of course, there are a lot of highly professional specialists who always do their best to achieve the highest results. But even in this case, they are interested in fulfilling only their part of the work and being paid for it. They do not share overall corporate values.

Moreover, it is essential to remember that, unfortunately, it is possible to find unscrupulous market players who can even get a task, take an upfront payment and disappear. And you, as a client, won’t be able to do anything. That’s why it is crucial to use only trusted platforms for looking for specialists, as these platforms try to track the reliability of the contractors who offer their services via their websites.

We recommend you not look for the lowest rates. We should admit that it is highly likely that for the lowest price, you can’t get the highest quality. That’s why there should be a reasonable price-quality ratio. Another significant point is to discuss all the terms and conditions of your cooperation in advance to avoid unpleasant future moments.

Also, there is one more thing to think about. When you hire a freelancer who performs some part of the work for you, you pay for these services, but later, it may happen that you will need to improve, modernize or expand the solution (or its part) built by a freelancer. It is rather sensible to ask the same person to fulfill this task. But are you sure that you can always find this specialist and that this specialist will have enough time to meet the set deadlines? With staff augmentation, similar issues are doubtful, as you are protected from such risks with the contract you sign with the vendor at the beginning of your cooperation. 

When should you hire an individual contractor?

  • When you have a separate software development task;
  • When you have a short-term project;
  • When you need to hire a specialist as soon as possible;
  • When you have already worked with this specialist and you are fully satisfied with the results.

You can also read another article about the ways to hire software developers, where you will find more tips on working with remote programmers and freelancers.

At Geomotiv, we would be happy to help you with that! We are very flexible and can offer the most appropriate terms based on your specific business requirements.

Staff Augmentation VS Contractors: Key Differences

Both working models have pluses and minuses. Neither of them is perfect. That’s why before you choose between staff augmentation vs individual contractor, please, consider the following parameters.

Staff augmentationFreelancers
Developers are employed
by a staffing firm
Developers are self-employed
A vendor takes all responsibilities related
to hiring, recruiting, training, etc.
You need to look for freelancers on your own and to settle all the administrative procedures
Developers become a part
of your team
Freelancers are fully independent players
This model is suitable for
long-term projects
This model is a good choice for small specialized tasks and short-term projects
It may take some time to find the best
candidates (especially when you need
to hire many specialists). As a rule,
the process of hiring a developer/creating a team takes around two weeks.
You can find freelancers and start working
with them in practically no time
Even though the chosen specialists can be based in another corner of the globe, staff augmentation companies can ensure the desired flexibility in the working hours of their experts. You can communicate with them in real-time, at least within a couple of hours per day.Freelancers often have very flexible schedules, regardless of their time zones. Some developers like to work at night, while others begin their working days early in the morning or afternoon. That’s why it is not always possible to find regular slots for communication online in real time.

As for the price, everything depends on the region and, consequently, rates. In general, the rates of individual contractors can be lower than the rates of developers you will hire per the staff augmentation model. But when planning your budget and calculating your expenses, it is also necessary to consider all the risks, including those when freelancers do not fulfill the set tasks.

How to Find the Best Experts to Work with?

When you are looking for in-house developers, it is evident that you start your search from local websites for hiring or global professional networks like LinkedIn. 

But the situation is different when you are looking for freelancers or staffing agencies. 

If you want to work with individual contractors, we recommend using platforms such as Upwork, Hired, Toptal, or Fiverr.

When you want to work with an IT partner, you can use platforms like GoodFirms, Clutch, ITfirms, DesignRuch, etc., or just rely on Google. Yes, it may sound too simple, but it is so. You can specify your search and the exact type of skills and technologies you require. But when Google offers you appropriate variants, you still have a lot of things to do.

Pay attention to the necessity to do your market research and find reviews, portfolios, and other valuable information about the company. You can also talk with the company’s specialists, who will tell you more about their values and approaches. 

Do not forget that good developers are one of the core components of a successful project!

Final Word

Of course, it’s up to you to choose which option is better for you and your business. However, given all the peculiarities of freelancing, the augmentation model looks more reliable and is associated with lower risks.

Suppose you want to know more about staff augmentation, or you are interested in hiring a dedicated development team that we will create in full accordance with your needs. In that case, we will gladly tell you more about these options. 

Even if you have any doubt regarding the most appropriate variant in your case, contact us, and we will help you choose the best one for you and your business growth.


Need Help? We’ve Got You Covered!

What is the difference between staff augmentation and contractors?

When you choose the staff augmentation model, you establish cooperation with a vendor who will help you fill in existing gaps in your development team. Working with individual contractors means that you need to look for the required specialists on your own. They can fulfill the set tasks, but they won’t become part of your team.

What type of contract is staff augmentation?


Recommended Reading

In this article, we are going to compare the IT...

The popularity of Go/Golang started to grow rather quickly, which...

The outsourcing market has become relatively mature, and various forms...

Let's see how to integrate a new software engineer into...

IT staff augmentation is one of the outsourcing types that...

In this article, we’d like to tell you about nearshore...