Companies and IT managers who lack in-house experts and developers or look into saving the money needed to hire full-time staff, often rely on external providers to help them meet development targets and execution deadlines.

If you are thinking about exploring the brain hiring options, it is essential you understand the choices you have and pick the optimal one for your project.

Choosing one model over the other depends on your needs, but also your availability and desired level of control, among other factors. In general, the most common ways to get external engineers to work on your project are IT staff augmentation and software project outsourcing.

Illustration of Staff augmentation project vs. outsourcing

IT Staff augmentation

In IT staff augmentation, external developers join the in-house engineering team. Usually hired on a temporary basis, augmented staff adds brainpower to the development process and works hand-in-hand with full-time developers. Either working on it since the beginning or joining in at the last mile, outsourced remote workers operate as an extension of the core team to help it reach the goal and deliver products faster.

Imagine you’ve already built an MVP of your project with basic features and the ability to be tested by its target audience. But you’d like to expand it into the next big thing for your niche market by adding extra features and upgrading its UX. Or maybe, you already have a well-working product, but you want to adapt it for a new audience and pivot its setup.

Since your project requires support in only specific segments where your team lacks knowledge and skills (or time), you can gain brains with staff augmentation and delegate tasks beyond your company walls.

Flexibility and communication

Working with augmented staff allows you to retain control over the development progress while introducing a flexible workforce committed only to specific segments. Outside developers follow yours and the team’s guidance to execute the pre-determined tasks, which means this type of relationship should include clear and effective communication for all sides. When you hold the reins on both the in-house and outsourced team, you also get lower risk and more transparent cooperation.

Depending on your needs, you can onboard new engineers at any moment in your development process from planning to reviewing, as they work on a temporary and flexible basis. Also, aligned with lean and agile methods, staff augmentation allows you to adapt to the production demands more efficiently. This way, you can upgrade your product modularly and reassign tasks when a need for new feature arises.

Software project outsourcing

In software project outsourcing, a third-party provider sets up a team to take over a particular project and for a fixed amount of time. The contract between the client and provider also includes agreed goals and guidance that the external team should follow.

If you need to expand your team, but you lack resources for hiring, instructing and managing new team members, outsourcing a complete project could help you start developing it within days. You can still have your say by enforcing your terms, demands, and deadlines for execution, whereas everything else – especially the management part – would be lifted off your shoulders.

Management and taking over

An outsourced team works on executing the order, while the team manager takes over their training, delegating responsibilities, and reviewing the progress at various stages. This way of scaling your operations leaves you with more time to focus on the internally established processes, and less stress managing tasks you’re not that skilled at or that require sharp focus.

Chances are you’re not an expert on the fields you outsource, and having an unbiased and experienced team on board could provide valuable insight and feedback on your vision of the project. This could prevent unneeded errors during the development process and more smooth deliverance of the end product.

When it comes to building a product from scratch, coding the backend and the UI, redefining the UX, and managing the development process from planning to testing, outsourcing a project provides a comprehensive and thorough approach.

How about managed services?

There is also a third type of outsourcing IT providers, called managed services. However, it is often implemented in projects that require long-term and constant engagement between the client and the provider, as well as the implementation of complex solutions that would otherwise require hefty investments and lengthy in-house development.

But for limited-time software- and app-building projects, staff augmentation and project outsourcing are often enough to help them meet the finish line faster and more effectively.

How to choose between augmented staff and project outsourcing?

First, you need to consider the scope of your project, both feature-wise and time-wise. Also, you should clearly verify whether you and your colleagues can afford to invest time in managing and controlling the external developers, or would this mean jeopardizing the already running processes.

To help you determine the best solution for your project, here is a rough comparison between both methods.

Staff augmentation Project outsourcing
Range of talents Dedicated team of globally accessible talents, hand-picked for client’s needs Limited number of employees of the service provider
Work delivered through Service provider Service provider
Team management Service provider Service provider
Communication Needs clear and constant instructions Needs less daily communication, terms set out in the initial agreement
Project management Client Service provider
Control over daily tasks Higher Lower
Selection of technology Client Service provider
Hiring expenses Lower compared to hiring full-time in-house workers Lower compared to hiring full-time in-house workers

If your project requires different approaches at different times, you can also combine the two and make the most of each when externalizing your processes. This provides higher adaptability to the current situations and faster responsiveness to market demands.

When chosen wisely, outsourced brainpower can effectively contribute to the speed and quality of your products, help your team meet deadlines and boost your product’s market entry.