Staff Augmentation vs. Other IT Outsourcing Methods: A Current Guide

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Recognizing the red flags that indicate your business needs IT outsourcing or staff augmentation is vital for ensuring smooth operations and continued growth. Some signs to watch out for include insufficient in-house expertise to handle complex projects, missed deadlines due to resource constraints, recurring technical issues, and declining productivity levels. If your team is overwhelmed with tasks, struggling to meet project demands, or facing challenges in adopting new technologies, consider outsourcing or augmenting your staff. By proactively addressing these red flags, you can leverage external expertise to support your business goals and drive success.

You may have heard of IT staff augmentation services. But is IT staff augmentation different from other forms of outsourcing? Is it better? Or perhaps better for you? Let’s look at what IT staff augmentation services do and how they can benefit your business. 

IT Staff Augmentation vs Other Services

Several outsourcing methods exist, each offering distinct advantages and suitable for different business needs. Project-based outsourcing involves contracting external vendors to complete specific projects or tasks. Managed services outsourcing involves ongoing support and management of business functions by specialized service providers. Staff augmentation allows companies to augment their existing teams with external talent for short or long-term projects. Additionally, there’s offshore outsourcing, where services are outsourced to providers in foreign countries to benefit from cost savings and access to global talent pools. Each outsourcing method has unique benefits and considerations, allowing businesses to tailor their approach based on their requirements and objectives.

Before diving in, let’s define the key terms:

Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation (you can see all the details on the MaybeWorks page): A flexible approach where you hire individual IT professionals on a contractual basis from an external IT staff augmentation company. These professionals become part of your virtual team, dedicated to specific projects or ongoing IT needs. Staff augmentation refers to the outsourcing strategy where businesses hire skilled professionals externally to complement their existing workforce or fill specific skill gaps. Unlike traditional outsourcing models, staff augmentation allows companies to retain control over project management while gaining access to specialized expertise on demand. This approach offers flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness, making it a preferred choice for organizations seeking to bolster their teams with temporary resources for short-term projects or ongoing support.

Project-based Outsourcing

It is when you outsource entire projects, end-to-end, to a third-party vendor. They handle all aspects, including project management, resource allocation, and delivery. Project-based outsourcing involves contracting external service providers to complete specific tasks or projects on behalf of a company. Unlike staff augmentation, where external resources are integrated into the existing team, project-based outsourcing typically involves a more temporary and defined engagement. Companies often opt for this approach when they need more expertise or resources internally to execute specific projects efficiently. It allows organizations to access specialized skills and resources for a particular project without the need for long-term commitments or investment in additional staff. Project-based outsourcing offers flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to scale resources according to project requirements, making it a popular choice for businesses across various industries.

Managed Services Outsourcing (MSO)

On the other hand, managed services outsourcing is when you outsource ongoing IT operations and maintenance to a vendor who manages your infrastructure, applications, and security. Managed services outsourcing refers to delegating specific business functions or processes to external service providers who manage and execute them on behalf of the client organization. This model differs from project-based outsourcing, involving ongoing, continuous support rather than one-off projects. Managed service providers (MSPs) typically offer IT infrastructure management, network monitoring, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and help desk support. By outsourcing these functions to specialized providers, organizations can benefit from improved efficiency, reduced operational costs, access to advanced technologies, and the ability to focus on core business objectives. Managed services outsourcing enables companies to leverage external expertise and resources while controlling their operations and strategic direction.

Software Development Staff Augmentation vs. Project-Based Outsourcing

These approaches are quite similar in many ways, including: 

  • Cost-effectiveness: Both offer cost savings compared to hiring full-time employees, eliminating overheads like benefits and infrastructure.
  • Access to specialized skills: Both provide a wider talent pool with diverse expertise.
  • Flexibility: Both offer scalability to adapt to changing project needs.

But there are key differences when it comes to: 

  • Control: In staff augmentation, you retain control over project management, while in project-based outsourcing, the vendor leads.
  • Cost structure: Staff augmentation charges are based on hourly rates or monthly retainers, while project-based outsourcing has fixed costs for the entire project.
  • Suitability: Staff augmentation is ideal for specific tasks or ongoing needs, while project-based outsourcing suits well-defined projects with clear deliverables.

Staff Augmentation vs. Managed Services Outsourcing (MSO)

Let’s compare this approach with MSOs

  • Reduced workload: Both free up internal resources to focus on core business activities.
  • Expertise and infrastructure: Both leverage the vendor’s expertise and infrastructure.
  • Scalability: Both offer flexible resource allocation based on your needs.

There are key differences, too: 

  • Scope: Staff augmentation focuses on individual resources, while MSO encompasses broader IT operations and maintenance.
  • Cost structure: Staff augmentation costs are variable, while MSO typically has fixed monthly fees.
  • Suitability: Staff augmentation caters to specific needs, while MSO is ideal for ongoing IT management and infrastructure support.

Choosing the Right Fit

The ideal outsourcing method depends on your unique needs and priorities. For well-defined projects, project-based outsourcing might be suitable. For ongoing needs or niche skills, staff augmentation might be better.

If you require tight control and flexibility, staff augmentation offers more autonomy. With MSO, you relinquish some control in exchange for comprehensive management.

If cost certainty is crucial, fixed-cost models like project-based outsourcing or MSO might be preferred. However, variable costs of staff augmentation can cater to dynamic needs. If you have strong internal IT leadership, staff augmentation allows leverage of your expertise. For limited internal resources, MSO can provide comprehensive support.

While these comparisons provide a starting point, remember that you can always take a hybridized approach by combining elements of different methods that can be tailored to your specific needs. Don’t forget – IT and technology change all the time. Consider how emerging technologies like cloud computing and automation might impact your decision.

Whichever vendor you choose must also meet important criteria, especially regarding security and data privacy. Ensure the preferred vendor has robust security measures and complies with relevant regulations before signing the dotted line. And always perform your own checks! Conduct thorough due diligence and choose a reputable vendor with proven experience and a track record of success in your industry. Just because a company claims that they’ve worked on a number of projects in your industry doesn’t mean it’s true. Interrogate what they say carefully to test their skill set. 

Signs of an unreliable provider of staff outsourcing or staff augmentation services may include: 

  • Inconsistent communication
  • Missed deadlines
  • Lack of transparency regarding project progress or resource allocation
  • A history of delivering subpar results
  • Lacks industry expertise
  • Fails to adhere to agreed-upon terms and conditions
  • Exhibits unprofessional behavior
    It’s crucial to vet potential providers thoroughly, seek references from past clients, and assess their track record to ensure you partner with a trustworthy and dependable outsourcing partner.


Thus, when selecting between IT outsourcing and staff augmentation, it’s essential to consider the scope and duration of your project, as well as your budget and internal resources. IT outsourcing involves entrusting the entire project or specific tasks to an external vendor, providing comprehensive solutions but requiring less direct oversight. On the other hand, staff augmentation allows you to temporarily extend your team with skilled professionals, providing flexibility and control over project management. Assess your project’s needs, evaluate the expertise required, and weigh the pros and cons of each approach to make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals.

IT outsourcing and staff augmentation offer valuable tools for optimizing IT resources and achieving business goals. By understanding the nuances of staff augmentation and comparing it with other options, you can make an informed decision that best suits your unique requirements. 

Remember, the journey doesn’t end with choosing a method; continuous evaluation, communication, and adaptation are key to maximizing the benefits and ensuring a successful and long-lasting partnership with an IT staff augmentation services company.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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