Staff Augmentation in Cyber Security

What is Staff Augmentation?

Staff augmentation means temporarily bringing in outside workers to join your team, particularly in the tech industry. It can bring flexibility in a financially affordable manner while still leaving you in control. Making the most of staff augmentation involves several steps, including using the right methods to find and recruit the extra staff.

It builds upon the familiar concept of temporary staff, for example when a business takes on seasonal workers such as a delivery company adding extra drivers at Christmas. Staff augmentation takes this a step further as it isn’t usually just about getting extra people doing “more of the same” during a busy period.

Instead staff augmentation most commonly involves a specific project, contract or operation. A business using staff augmentation won’t necessarily just be looking for more staff. Instead it will be looking for people with particular skills or experience that aren’t covered sufficiently by the permanent staff. Often these specialist skills may only be necessary for a particular project rather than it making sense to hire somebody permanently.

Although staff augmentation is usually about adding staff, it can occasionally work for plugging a shortfall, for example if a staff member is taking parental leave, a sabbatical or suffering long-term health issues. While you could advertise for a temporary hire or use a general recruitment agency in this scenario, staff augmentation is a solid option when the missing staff member was performing a specialist role, particularly in a time-limited project or operation. In this situation you would need somebody with particular skills and abilities who was available for a set time and could be recruited and set to work fast.

How Does Staff Augmentation Compare With Other Models?

Businesses often use one of several methods of getting outside help as their needs change, and it can be easy to get confused about these models. Let’s run through the key differences and learn more about staff augmentation.

What Is The Difference Between Staff Augmentation And Outsourcing?

As a general principle, outsourcing is about handing over a project for an outside party to manage and complete. As with staff augmentation, external staff will work on the project, but the key is who decides what they do and how they complete the project.

With staff augmentation you retain control, while with project outsourcing you simply set the outcome you want and leave it to the outsourcing provider to decide how to achieve it.

The main practical differences are that outsourcing usually involves a single cost that relates to the outcome, while staff augmentation is more of a “pay as they work” model. Outsourcing also means the external staff will have less connection with your own staff, departments and development models than is the case with staff augmentation.

What Is The Difference Between Consulting And Staff Augmentation?

Consulting is something of a halfway house between project outsourcing and consulting. Generally consulting involves an external provider overseeing a project but with you retaining closer oversight. Again, staff augmentation means you retain full control on how many staff you bring in and how you use them, whereas consulting concentrates more on the provider deciding how to achieve outcomes.

What Is The Difference Between Staff Augmentation And Managed Services?

Managed services mean getting an outside provider to take care of some or all of your technology needs, including finding the staff to carry out the necessary work. Managed services tends to be a longer-term arrangement with a wider scope, while staff augmentation is shorter term and often involves work on a specific project. While staff augmentation usually has a simple model of paying for the staff, managed services can have many different price models including flat-rate subscriptions, per-employee fees and per-device fees.

What Are The Benefits Of Staff Augmentation?

The flexible nature of staff augmentation means you can enjoy a wide range of benefits from the model. Here are some of the key advantages:

Temporary Nature :

Staff augmentation means you can get a temporary increase in staff capacity when you need it, for example when running a new project or launching a new product or service. You don’t have long-term commitments and you can let the staff go without the negative implications and image hit that would come with downsizing your permanent staff.

Specialized Skills:

You may need staff to carry out a task that requires specialist knowledge and experience, but not have a long-term or permanent need for those skills. Staff augmentation lets you get the right staff at the right time.

On-Site Benefits:

While you can use remote workers, staff augmentation often involves bringing staff on to your premises to fit your standard work patterns. In contrast, using outsourcing often involves dealing with time zone headaches and delays in getting responses and updates.

A Bridge To Hiring:

Although staff augmentation is primarily a temporary measure, some businesses use it even when they plan to hire full-time staff. For example, a company might bring in temporary workers to plug the gap while they take their time to look for permanent staff. A business could use staff augmentation as a “try before you buy” option and then offer permanent roles to staff who impress and fit in well. Remember, though, that this can have cost implications and there’s no guarantee the workers want a permanent role.

How To Best Use Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation is less of a magic bullet and more of a tool: you need to use it the right way to get the best results. This usually involves four key steps:

  • Identify your specific needs and then evaluate your existing staff. This will not only reveal where you have a shortfall that requires staff augmentation, but could also uncover cases where you aren’t making the best use of your full-time employee base.
  • Source talent. Specialist recruiters are a valuable resources here as they can quickly find quality candidates who have both the specialist skillset you need and the desire to work on a temporary basis.
  • Onboard the talent. Even though staff augmentation is a short-term measure, you may still need to bring the external staff up to speed on your corporate culture and the way you work.
  • Set clear goals and responsibilities. Staff augmentation only works to its full potential when everyone is clear about who is doing what and how.

Does Staff Augmentation Have Any Disadvantages?

It’s more a case of limitations than drawbacks, so it’s really about whether you can still make the most of staff augmentation within those limitations. Some points to consider are:

  • Unlike with outsourcing, you still need to allow some ramp-up time while the temporary staff get the necessary institutional knowledge.
  • Staff augmentation can be better suited to short-term and medium-term projects. The longer-term the project, the more likely it is you’ll get availability problems and turnover of staff.
  • You won’t necessarily reap the full benefits of any training and development external staff get while working for you. That said, if you are using staff augmentation correctly, it’s more likely you’ll be benefiting from their previous training in the specific skills you need from them.
  • The costs can appear higher on paper than permanent employees. However, this is often wiped out when you take into account savings on benefits, taxes and other employer-related costs that don’t always apply with staff augmentation.

What Types Of Provision Can I Use For Staff Augmentation

There’s a range of ways to recruit for staff augmentation, but most have drawbacks:

  • Recruiting directly yourself gives the most control but largely undermines the benefits of saving time and costs.
  • Using online “gig platforms” can cut down on the admin, but is a major gamble when it comes to candidate quality and is rarely suitable for specialist roles.
  • Using a general recruiting agency can take care of many of the headaches but won’t always find candidates with the specialist skills and experience you need.

That’s why staff augmentation normally works best with a specialist recruiter who understands both your industry and specialisms, and the way you want to use the temporary recruits.


Staff Augmentation In Summary

Staff augmentation is likely to be right for you if:

  • You need temporary staff for a specific purpose such as completing a project.
  • You need staff with specific, specialist skills and experience.
  • You want to keep control over how the temporary staff operate and what roles they perform.
  • You have the organization and management to quickly integrate new staff, get them working within your systems, and give clear instructions for what you need them to do and achieve.

Intercastare proven experts in recruiting cybersecurity staff for businesses looking to use a range of models including staff augmentation. Contact us today and we’ll talk you through our services and how we can find the right people for your needs.