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7 minutes read

Everything You Need to Know About Staff Augmentation

By Tony Meazell
Staff Augmentation
By Tony Meazell
7 minutes read

Staff augmentation for skilled development positions has always been a competitive field. Top-tier development candidates are in high demand, and the appetite for talent has grown due to COVID-19. However, this does not mean that you cannot augment your staff with experts, but you need to understand what to expect. 

Businesses can get frustrated with staff augmentation if their needs are not met in a timely fashion, or if the candidates they receive do not live up to their expectations. At Koombea, we have created a robust recruiting engine and have tapped a rich talent pipeline to fill large and small staff augmentation requests. 

In order to clearly set expectations and give you more background on the staff augmentation market for development staff, let’s compare large and small staffing requests. 

Large Vs. Small Staff Augmentation 

Traditionally, staff augmentation followed these basic steps:

  1. Staffing agency provides the company with a resume or two for an open position
  2. Company interviews the candidates 
  3. If the interview goes well, a contract is created for the interviewee 
  4. They take the job and begin working on the project 

The model above is tried and true, and it works really well for companies that only need to hire one or two people. Issues arise when companies need to fill a larger number of positions. After five or six people, the traditional, small staff augmentation model falls apart. 

The problem is availability. Technically skilled people typically aren’t just waiting on the sidelines for a position. When companies want to follow the traditional, small staff augmentation model to fill a large staff need, it is very difficult because, for recruiting partners, it is like hitting a moving target. 

Remember, recruiting vendors have to spend money to recruit talent. With large staffing requests, there is little to no incentive for the recruiting vendor to actually spend resources on recruitment. In these cases, they often subcontract the recruitment process and hope that everything works out.

This leads to long waits for companies looking to hire talent with good IQ test results and necessary skills, and it generally leads to an influx of low-quality candidates due to the nature of subcontracting. Large staffing augmentation jobs require large solutions, and at Koombea, we have a different approach to large staff augmentation. 

Sustainable Large Team Staffing 

Instead of following the traditional staffing model for large team staffing, which we know is ineffective, we have crafted a staff augmentation model for large teams. Here are what the steps of this model look like:

  1. Meet the vendor, their executives, engineers, and managers
  2. Review the vendor’s processes, augmentation playbook, get client references, and other due diligence
  3. Agree to a contract with the staffing vendor upfront for an initial team commitment 
  4. Review resumes and conduct interviews with provided talent 
  5. All selected candidates are committed to your company from day one

This model might look a lot like the small staff augmentation model, and they are similar. The way you can think about the differences between these two models is that the small model is candidate-based, and the large model is vendor-based. Instead of putting your trust in a single candidate, your company is putting its trust in its recruiting partner.

A recruitment partner is not going to be able to spend the financial resources required to fill a large staffing job without a commitment upfront. As we have said previously, this leads to subcontracting and poor outcomes for everyone involved. 

Companies like to have control over who they hire, and in a large staffing model, they still have the control to review individual resumes and hire the people that gel with their team. They thoroughly check everything from how they make a resume to their skills, expertise and even behavior. The major difference is that there is an upfront agreement with the recruiter, and all talent hired is committed to their team from the first day. 

This model is the only way that recruitment vendors can guarantee candidate quality and avoid subcontractors. Companies seeking to fill multiple positions need to focus on choosing the right recruitment partner and not worry about each individual position until they are reviewing resumes. 

Red Flags and Warning Signs 

Recruitment is a tough industry to excel in, and as a result, some vendors resort to less than scrupulous tactics to secure clients. Some of the big red flags you should be looking out for include:

  • Bait and switch 
  • They say yes to everything 
  • They don’t understand your needs

Bait and Switch 

Unfortunately, in the development staffing industry, the bait and switch tactic is all too common. How does the bait and switch work? Let’s say you are looking for a UX/UI designer. A less than scrupulous staffing agency will send you a highly skilled senior UX/UI designer with a lot of experience and an impressive portfolio. You might even interview this candidate, but when it comes time to hire, this impressive candidate will have just been picked up for another job. 

The truth is, that impressive candidate was likely never available in the first place. Once you are interested, they will send you a less than impressive candidate. This person might even be skilled in their own right, but they won’t have the same level of experience that initially got your attention. 

Make sure that the people you are interviewing are actually available should you choose to hire them. If the staffing agency can’t give you a clear answer in regards to a candidate’s availability, they are trying to pull the bait and switch on you. 

They Say Yes to Everything 

It is nice to hear the word, yes, but when it comes to staffing development positions, recruiters who always say yes cannot be trusted. Do you have 15 .NET developers that can start in a month? Yes? That is likely not the whole truth. Talent never sits on the sidelines. No recruitment agency has talent on-demand. 

What happens if you ask for 15 .NET developers and they say yes? They turn around and start subcontracting as fast as they can in order to try and fill your need. It is not economically feasible for anyone to have large amounts of unused talent waiting for your job to begin. You might get lucky and land one or two developers who just happened to be free when your need arose. 

In most cases, you will need to recruit, and it may take a little time. You cannot trust a recruitment vendor who always answers yes to all of your needs because the truth is they don’t have the talent waiting for you. 

They Don’t Understand Your Needs

If you’re working with a recruitment vendor to fill specialized development roles on your team, they better understand the job and your needs. Typical staffing agencies likely won’t have a deep development background. This makes it harder for them to understand what looks good on a resume and what is fluff. 

Your recruitment partner has to understand the positions you are trying to fill. If your recruitment partner does not understand your open positions, they can’t begin to really understand your needs or deliver you quality candidates. 

Final Thoughts 

Staff augmentation does not have to be a difficult process for your business. If you partner with a trusted vendor with a rich history of software development experience and technical expertise, like Koombea, you can rest assured that you will find the best available talent to fill your team’s needs. The important thing to remember is that no one has unlimited talent waiting on the sidelines. Work with a trusted recruiting partner, not a vendor who will subcontract.

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