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Dedicated teams vs. staff augmentation: pros and cons

When assembling the right workforce for your projects, the right strategy can make all the difference. So, read on to gain the knowledge you need to make an informed decision for your business.

6 July, 2023
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Now that we’ve learned about a dedicated team vs. an in-house team option, what about choosing between dedicated teams and staff augmentation? When assembling the right workforce for your projects, the right strategy can make all the difference.

Both approaches have their merits, and understanding the pros and cons is crucial for success. Dedicated software team offers increased productivity, is ideal for long-term projects, and foster better team-wide communication.

On the other hand, staff augmentation provides quick access to specialized expertise, making it suitable for short-term endeavors and offering flexibility. So, read on to gain the knowledge you need to make an informed decision for your business.

What is a dedicated team?

A dedicated team is a model of collaboration in which a group of professionals with diverse skills and expertise is assigned exclusively to work on a specific project or set of tasks. The team remains intact for an extended period, often for the entire duration of a long-term project or as an ongoing support unit for a specific function within an organization.

The composition of a dedicated team typically includes individuals from various disciplines, such as developers, designers, testers, and project managers. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that all aspects of the project receive specialized attention. Check out the best practices for managing a dedicated development team.

Here are some key differences between the dedicated team model and traditional project team models:

  1. Dedicated teams focus exclusively on a specific project, while traditional teams may handle multiple projects simultaneously.
  2. Dedicated team members better understand project objectives, fostering higher commitment and focus, while traditional team members may have divided attention.
  3. Dedicated teams enable proactive project management with close monitoring, adjustments, and efficient resource allocation. Traditional teams often rely on reactive management approaches.

What is staff augmentation?

Staff augmentation is a business strategy where external resources, such as specialized professionals or entire teams, are hired on a temporary or project-based basis to supplement and enhance an organization's existing workforce.

Rather than hiring permanent employees, staff augmentation allows companies to access specific skills and expertise when needed, scaling their workforce up or down based on project requirements or business demands.

Under the staff augmentation model, the external resources work collaboratively with the internal team, integrating seamlessly into existing processes and workflows. They contribute expertise, knowledge, and experience to fulfill specific project needs, address skill gaps, or meet tight deadlines.

Differences between staff augmentation and the dedicated team model:

  1. Staff augmentation supplements an existing workforce with external resources on a temporary or project-based basis, while the dedicated team model is formed specifically for a project or function.
  2. Staff augmentation involves hiring external professionals or teams to integrate into existing processes, while dedicated teams work independently as a self-contained unit.
  3. Staff augmentation engagements are temporary and time-bound, while dedicated teams are formed for the entire project duration or as ongoing support.
  4. Staff augmentation allows flexible workforce scaling and access to specific skills, while dedicated teams offer a multidisciplinary approach and specialized collaboration.
  5. Staff augmentation resources are managed by the existing management structure, while dedicated teams often have a dedicated project manager or team lead.
Dedicated teams vs staff augmentation
Dedicated teams vs staff augmentation

Pros of dedicated teams

Here’s why you should consider a dedicated team.

Increased productivity

Unlike traditional teams that may juggle multiple projects simultaneously, dedicated team members can dedicate their time, skills, and energy entirely to the project at hand. A high level of commitment and focus then translates into improved efficiency and output.

Moreover, since dedicated team members work closely together for an extended period, they develop a deep understanding of the project's objectives, requirements, and nuances. Such higher familiarity allows for streamlined processes, reduced time spent on coordination, and better decision-making.

Best for long-term projects

Dedicated teams are particularly well-suited for long-term projects because they remain consistently assigned to the project for its entire duration and develop a more comprehensive understanding of its goals and requirements.

Familiarizing with the project's context, stakeholders, and evolving needs also enables them to provide valuable insights, make informed decisions, and adapt effectively to changing circumstances.

Better team-wide communication

Clear and effective communication is essential for successful project execution, and dedicated teams excel in fostering better team-wide communication. They develop strong working relationships, open lines of communication, and a shared sense of purpose. This environment promotes efficient collaboration and improved coordination among team members.

Team-wide communication becomes more streamlined as team members become familiar with each other's strengths, weaknesses, and communication styles. The consistent presence of a dedicated team also allows for regular meetings, progress updates, and transparent reporting, ensuring that all team members are well-informed and aligned with project objectives.

Increased expertise and specialization

Another significant benefit of dedicated teams is the increased expertise and specialization they bring to the project. The team members work exclusively on your project and have the opportunity to develop deep knowledge and specialized skills related to its specific domain or industry.

This focused expertise allows dedicated team members to tackle complex challenges more effectively and provide innovative solutions. They can stay up-to-date with the latest trends, technologies, and best practices relevant to your project, ensuring that the work is of high quality and aligned with industry standards.

Pros of staff augmentation

Staff augmentation also brings a few benefits to the table.

Access to expertise quickly

One of the significant advantages of staff augmentation is the ability to quickly access specialized expertise and skills that may not be available within the existing workforce. When faced with a specific project requirement or a skill gap, you can engage external professionals with the required knowledge and experience.

Staff augmentation allows for a swift onboarding process, enabling you to tap into a wider talent pool and leverage the expertise of professionals who are well-versed in the specific domain or technology. Such rapid access to specialized skills can both expedite project timelines and enhance the quality of deliverables.

Best for short-term projects

Staff augmentation is more suitable for short-term projects that require a surge in resources or expertise for a limited duration. Instead of hiring permanent employees, you can just bring in external professionals on a temporary basis to meet project demands.

Once the project is completed, the external resources can seamlessly transition out without the long-term commitments and costs associated with maintaining a more extensive and permanent workforce.

Flexibility

Flexibility is a key advantage of staff augmentation. You have the freedom to adjust the size and composition of your augmented team based on your project needs and timelines.

This flexibility also extends to the specific skills needed for different project phases or tasks. With staff augmentation, organizations can bring in professionals with specialized expertise for specific project stages or areas, optimizing resource utilization and cost-effectiveness.

Cons of dedicated teams

Dedicated teams, however, also have a couple downsides.

Ramp-up period

One of the downsides of dedicated teams is the initial ramp-up period (time spent on training, onboarding, and building team dynamics) required for the team to become fully productive.

During this period, there may be a slight adjustment in productivity as the team familiarizes themselves with the project's specifics and gains the necessary experience. While this adjustment phase might impact project timelines, it's a temporary process that leads to improved efficiency and effectiveness in the long run.

Limited flexibility in resource allocation

Dedicated teams are built with a specific project or objective in mind, which can limit their flexibility in resource allocation to other projects you may want taken care of.

Once dedicated team members are assigned to a project, it may be challenging to move or distribute them to other initiatives or address urgent needs in different areas of the organization. This lack of flexibility can be a disadvantage if the organization requires more dynamic resource allocation to adapt to changing priorities.

Cons of staff augmentation

Staff augmentation also has cons.

Higher costs

Staff augmentation can also be characterized by higher costs. Engaging external professionals or teams temporarily often involves paying higher hourly rates or fees for their specialized skills and expertise.

These costs can add up, especially when considering the duration of the project and the number of external resources required. Additional expenses may also be associated with onboarding, training, and integrating external resources into existing processes and systems.

Onboarding process

Bringing in external professionals or teams requires time and effort to familiarize them with the project objectives, requirements, and organizational dynamics. The onboarding process includes introducing them to the company culture, providing access to necessary tools and systems, and ensuring effective communication and collaboration.

Depending on the complexity of the project and the specific skills required, the onboarding process may take longer, impacting the overall project timeline. There can also be a learning curve as external resources must quickly understand the project context and align with the internal team.

Choose the right strategy for your business

In conclusion, when deciding between dedicated teams and staff augmentation, evaluating your business needs, project requirements, and available resources should be your first move. Consider the duration, scope, and complexity of the project and your budget constraints.

Are you seeking a long-term commitment, deep project knowledge, and streamlined collaboration? Or do you require flexibility, quick access to expertise, and cost optimization? Use our article to assess the nuances and trade-offs of each approach and make an informed choice that aligns with your business objectives.

author

CEO and Founder of Merge

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

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