Team Augmentation vs. Outsourcing: What’s the Best Approach?

Almost every development team feels the pressure to move faster. Oftentimes, these demands are met by hiring new employees, augmenting the existing team or outsourcing projects to third-party development teams.

Team augmentation and outsourcing are two of the most common ways to speed up development without hiring new employees. When deciding between these options, it’s important to take into account both your goals and objectives, and the pros and cons associated with each approach to adding manpower.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of team augmentation and outsourcing, as well as how to choose the right option for your project.

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What is Team Augmentation?

Most businesses are familiar with outsourcing software projects to remote development teams, but in some cases, you may need the attention that only a full-time senior-level developer can provide. Rather than making a full-time hire for a temporary need, you can use team augmentation to add ultra-specific expertise or additional manpower to your project.

For example, a team augmentation provider may lend a senior-level developer to your team for a three-month period. The individual would either work in the office or remotely on a set daily schedule and use tools like Atlassian or Slack to communicate with the team. In addition, they might participate in daily standups and even pair-program to mentor your team.

The benefits of team augmentation include:

  • Flexibility: Companies have the flexibility to scale up or down without recruiting, hiring, laying off or firing full-time employees. All of the administrative duties for team augmentation are handled by the vendor (e.g., payroll, education, etc.).
  • Communication: Team augmentation provides full- or part-time access to a senior-level developer that is dedicated to your project and works directly with your team—even in-person—just like a new employee (but without the overhead).
  • Simplicity: Team augmentation contracts are simple since you’re buying time rather than a deliverable. Unlike outsourcing, you don’t have to worry about quality control, missed deadlines or other issues associated with deliverables.

The drawbacks of team augmentation include:

  • Management: You’re responsible for managing the new developer within your team. For instance, you may need to provide office space for them to be in-person and you need to incorporate them into team communication tools and processes.
  • Education: Depending on the vendor and the level of talent, you may need to invest some time in bringing the new developer up-to-speed and it may take some time for them to assimilate into your team.

Team augmentation is ideal when your team is developing a software product, but you need specific expertise and/or to move more quickly.

When Outsourcing is a Better Option

Most businesses that outsource software projects aren’t involved with the day-to-day development process. The vendor typically handles everything from scoping out the project to building the final product with a set of requirements and constraints. While you may communicate on a regular basis, they autonomously handle low-level decisions.

Download our Checklist of Vendor Interview Questions to ask team augmentation or outsourcing vendors and ensure they’re a good fit.

For instance, suppose that you own a software-as-a-service business that’s primarily web-based, but you’d like to add an iOS and Android mobile application. Since your team doesn’t have XCode/Swift or Android Studio/Java experience, you may decide to completely outsource the project to a third-party team that provides a deliverable.

The benefits of outsourcing include:

  • Cost: Outsourcing projects is often much cheaper than hiring and training full-time employees to accomplish the same project. Once the contract is signed, it’s the vendor’s responsibility to deliver the final product on time and on budget.
  • Expertise: Many outsourcing vendors specialize in specific areas, such as mobile application development or data analytics. Since they have built numerous applications, they have a lot of experience and adhere to best practices.

The drawbacks of outsourcing include:

  • Control: Outsourcing a project involves giving up a certain level of control since you’re not involved with code-level decisions. In some cases, the lack of control can lead to sub-par code quality or hidden technical debt.
  • Communication: Communication can be challenging when there are multiple time zones separating stakeholders and developers. In addition, you may face cultural or language barriers in communicating with remote teams.

Outsourcing is ideal for independent projects that require specific expertise or when businesses need to cut costs in a certain area.

Selecting the Right Partner

Most businesses can appreciate the difficulty of hiring the right employee. With team augmentation or outsourcing, it’s equally important to ensure that you’re hiring the best possible talent to avoid any technical issues, cost overruns, missed deadlines or other problems that often arise from these kinds of arrangements.

Don’t forget to download our Checklist of Vendor Interview Questions to ask team augmentation or outsourcing vendors and ensure they’re a good fit.

There are several things to consider when choosing a partner:

  • Technical Ability: Developers should have a firm grasp on computer science fundamentals and understand the nuances of working on real-world applications. In addition, they should be adept at picking up new skills and technologies.
  • Communication: Communication skills are invaluable to keep a project moving forward. The best developers are just as comfortable in a boardroom as a code editor. In addition, you should consider any language, cultural or time zone challenges.
  • Trustworthiness: Many development teams are working with trade secrets. While non-disclosure agreements cover some ground, developers should be discreet and sensitive to information that might impact your business.

At Sharkbyte, we thoroughly vet talent for coding skills, competencies and experience, and we only hire mid to senior-level developers with a proven track record. We offer both outsourced software application development and team augmentation services leveraging our exceptional team and strive to constantly improve over time. Contact us today to discuss your project.

The Bottom Line

Team augmentation and outsourcing are two of the most common ways to address skill gaps on your team or simply add manpower to a project. When choosing between the two, it’s important to look at your goals and objectives, as well as the tradeoffs with each option. It’s equally important to carefully vet and hire the right partner for the job.

Contact us today to learn how we can help finish your project on-time and on-budget.

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