Staff augmentation and Outsourcing in CyberSecurity
Staff augmentation and outsourcing are two of the main ways of getting outside help for your IT projects. Staff augmentation brings in extra workers under your control while outsourcing means getting an external business to take over the project. Both can help your business, but the better option may depend on your specific needs.
Staff Augmentation: The Basics
Staff augmentation means getting extra staff on a temporary basis to work on a specific project. These staff will work for you (under your instructions) for the period of the project.
This is not the same as hiring temporary staff to deal with either predictable or unexpected changes in demand. For example, a business may take on extra staff to deal with orders at Christmas while a play facility may hire temporary staff during school vacations. In both cases, this is simply expanding the overall size of the workforce.
The difference with staff augmentation is that you bring in people with more specific skills to work on a specific project, rather that carry out a wide range of ordinary duties. Examples could include completing development of an app, relaunching a website or extending a network to cover a new facility.
Depending on the tasks, the people you bring in through staff augmentation may work at your office alongside your staff. Alternatively, they may work remotely, though still under your instructions.
Outsourcing: The Basics
In an IT context, outsourcing means getting an external organization to take control of, and responsibility for, a particular project or task. They will then use their own resources, including workers, to deliver the project.
In some cases, IT outsourcing means getting the external organization to take permanent or indefinite control of a particular task such as running a website. (This is sometimes called professional services or managed services.)
If you’re weighing up staff augmentation vs outsourcing, you’re more likely to be looking at the external company taking on a specific project, usually with an end goal or date. The key to the relationship is that you decide on the outcome, but the outsourcing provider decides how to achieve it and provides the necessary resources. This isn’t just about staff: the provider usually uses their own equipment, software licenses, etc.
Unlike outsourcing in some industries, outsourcing in IT tends to put more emphasis on accessing expertise rather than being primarily about slashing costs.
Staff Augmentation: Benefits
The biggest advantage of staff augmentation is that you remain in control of how the project runs. You decide not only what needs to be done, but also how to do it. This makes it the ideal solution when you have a clear idea how you want things to work, and your main challenge is not having enough skilled staff to carry out the tasks.
In turn, staff augmentation works particularly efficiently when you have changing needs such as a temporary project. In this scenario, you may need to complete the project but not consider it financially viable to hire permanent staff who you won’t need when the job is done.
The staff augmentation model makes integration much smoother. Because the temporary staff are working under your instruction (and often on your premises), you can make sure they carry out tasks in the way that works best for your systems and processes.
The model works best when you need to hire people with very specific skills. Somebody might not have the breadth or adaptability to work in a more general role, for example as part of your core IT support staff. However, they may have specialist knowledge and experience in a task that’s vital for your project. You’ll benefit from their understanding of this task, developed at other businesses. While you retain control, they may also be able to suggest improvements and different approaches to make the process more efficient.
Staff Augmentation: Limitations
Staff augmentation does require some element of training and onboarding. This will not only cover the specific processes you are using on a project, but also the wider work culture and procedures in your organization.
While staff augmentation offers some flexibility in adjusting to changing needs and scaling operations up or down, the onboarding process still means you can’t always get immediate results.
Using staff augmentation means you still have resource costs in managing both the temporary staff and the wider project.
The model may not be suitable if your main hold-up with a project is not being sure of the best way to run it efficiently and effectively, rather than being held back by a lack of resources.
Arguably the biggest benefit of outsourcing a project is that you have to spend less of your time and attention in managing the project and deciding how to achieve the goals. This is particularly useful where the project isn’t part of your main business activity. Management experts would describe this as freeing your resources up to concentrate on your core competency: in other words, spending more time on the things you do best.
With outsourcing, you don’t need to worry about recruiting or training staff, either in specific skills or in the processes of your business. This is all taken care of by the outsourcing provider.
The outsourcers will often have access to a wide talent pool with experience working together, along with high levels of equipment, software and other resources. This means they can quickly adjust to new projects and ongoing changes, making the model more scalable as your needs change.
If deadlines are key to your project, you may feel uncertain about outsourcing and losing some control. However, outsourced projects are arguably less likely to involve delays because the providers have a strong incentive to meet enforceable deadlines. This means they aren’t always subject to the delays that can come up with internal projects where there’s always a temptation to make one last tweak.
A lack of control will always be the biggest disadvantage with outsourcing. If you’ve got fixed ideas about the best way to run a project and achieve an outcome, you may find it difficult to rely on outsourcing providers that have their own approaches. This could even lead to you expending mental energy on the project that undermines the purpose of outsourcing it.
Outsourcing usually runs smoothly, though you may need to factor in hiccups from integrating the provider’s solutions and output with your own technologies.
Using outsourcing can work out more expensive than staff augmentation. While outsourcers may have more efficient costs, you are paying not just for the delivery of the project itself, but also the outsourcer’s time in designing and managing the project. You’ll also be paying a premium to cover the responsibility that the outsourcer takes on.
While outsourcing is often smooth once it’s up and running, you do need to spend some time negotiating project outcomes, deadlines and costs. You’ll also need to set milestones and figure out what (if anything) is acceptable recompense for any delays or inadequate work.
Who Benefits Most from Staff Augmentation?
As a general guideline, staff augmentation may be more suitable if:
- You have an ongoing project but now need extra staff.
- You have expertise and experience in managing a project within your organization’s structure.
- A project needs workers with particular skills and experience.
- You have decided a project must or should be run in a particular way.
- You don’t need a long-term increase in your permanent staff.
Who Benefits Most from Outsourcing?
As a general guideline, outsourcing may be more suitable if:
- You aren’t sure about the best way to run a project.
- The project isn’t part of your organization’s core competencies.
- You want somebody else to take on responsibility for a project.
- The project could be too expensive without the economies of scale an outsourcing provider can offer.
- You don’t have the time to train and onboard new staff, particularly temporary workers.
Outsourcing is a good option if you need somebody to take complete control of, and responsibility for, a project. If you want to stay in charge and simply need extra resources to carry out your plans, staff augmentation may be more suitable.
Part of making the most of staff augmentation is knowing how to quickly find vetted staff who have the specific skills you need and are happy to work on a temporary basis. A specialist recruiter such as Intercast can help so contact us today to discuss your needs.