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Staff augmentation vs. direct hire in 2021: Which is best for you?

When it’s time to expand your software development team, you might find yourself at a crossroads. Whether you’ve just landed several big projects and need to scale your team quickly, or you’re implementing a slower growth strategy over time, you have options when it comes to hiring.

The traditional option for growing your team is, of course, to hire directly. For companies who have an established software development team, direct hires can be an easy option, as they have the infrastructure in place to evaluate candidates. However, for companies without a development team, or for those who are too busy to source and evaluate candidates, the process of hiring software developers directly can be daunting. 

This is where staff augmentation comes in. Staff augmentation typically involves bringing a job description to a staffing company, who will then match you with developers who have the right technical skills and personality fit to be successful at your company. These developers work directly with you and your team, but are ultimately paid by the staffing company. In this arrangement, the staffing company also handles all of the legal, HR, and other contract-related questions, allowing you to keep your process very lean.

Software developer staff augmentation offers some very attractive advantages:


  • Flexible scaling
    • Staff augmentation allows you to grow your team much more quickly than you might be able to by hiring directly, with the added bonus of not being locked into a long-term employment contract with a direct employee.
  • No need to pay benefits, insurance, etc.
    • Along the same lines, in staffing arrangements developers work with you as contractors, meaning your company does not have the same obligations in terms of insurance and other benefits that must be offered to employees.
  • You call the shots
    • With staff augmentation, you are not outsourcing the entire software development process to an external team. Instead, you (or someone on your team) are directly managing software developers who are adhering to your process, so you have full control over the procedures and ultimately the outcome.
  • Lower costs (without sacrificing quality)
    • Especially if you hire outside of the US, the cost of staff augmentation is generally far lower than hiring directly, especially when accounting for taxes and other costs associated with direct hires. Hiring from a region like Latin America, which tends to follow US standards for development and has very talented developers, can be a great way to keep costs low and quality high.
  • Leave it to the pros
    • If you don’t have an in-house development team (or if your internal team is too busy to interview candidates), leave the recruiting and evaluation process to the professionals. By hiring a staffing company, you will simply receive qualified candidates that have been handpicked for your specific needs.

According to reports, 2020 and 2021 have seen a shortage of tech talent in the US as companies have scrambled to adjust to remote-first work. If you find yourself in a similar position, schedule a call with us to see if staff augmentation can help you sustainably grow your software development team.

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