Balancing The Pros And Cons Of Staff Augmentation
Irene Jimenez/SweetRush

Staff Augmentation: How To Balance Its Pros And Cons

"See the good in that which is evil, and the evil in that which is good. Pledge yourself to neither side, but vow instead to preserve the balance that exists between the two."
- Hayao Miyazaki, The Flawed Concept of Good vs. Evil

Utilizing temporary talent is neither good nor evil, but I have always liked that quote. I could have kept this article focused solely on the pros, the good stuff, right? That’s when I remembered that quote from Hayao Miyazaki, the iconic Japanese filmmaker, and decided to approach both the pros and cons of staff augmentation.

eBook Release: Staff Augmentation For Learning And Development: The Agile Talent Solution For Modern Business
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Staff Augmentation For Learning And Development: The Agile Talent Solution For Modern Business
Discover how to make this strategy work for your organization.

Let’s start with the bottom line: I think that clients and vendors can work together to enhance the pros and diminish the cons, but it takes awareness and effort to do the right thing.

Years of recruiting, vetting, hiring, and deploying Learning and Development (L&D) professionals for clients seeking temporary help have taught me just how helpful and effective staff augmentation can be for clients, from small and medium-sized businesses to global enterprises. The corporate world revolves around talent and moves at a fast pace. Companies need to put the pedal to the metal in order to stay competitive. Which is why fulfilling their hiring needs in an efficient fashion can be the difference between success and failure.

More and more, companies are considering the pros and cons of staff augmentation in order to find temporary talent. In Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts [1], authors Jon Younger and Norm Smallwood explain that “few companies are shifting in the direction of agile talent as a total workforce strategy [...], but they are moving slowly but inexorably toward employing agile talent; that is, talent sourced in a variety of ways that fall outside the traditional employment model, such as staff augmentation, to extend their capabilities in fast-moving strategic areas”.

Knowing Your Needs Will Give You Better Results

Nevertheless, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to staff augmentation. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, staffing can be a long, time-consuming job to do on your own. Since you’re looking for talent with specific, defined expertise, that will add time and effort to the challenge. So the time and effort to find talent is really the first con. This con can be eased, however, by shifting the burden to a staffing vendor. It sounds self-serving as we offer this service, but it’s true.

The first step in looking for talent is to identify what you need and what you want the talent to do. Whether it’s you or an external vendor doing the recruiting, performing the analysis step and gaining a thorough understanding are essential. Without them, and this is the con, you might spend considerable time and effort but miss the bulls-eye. The way to mitigate this risk is to make sure you have given this step the necessary amount of attention. If you’re working with a staffing vendor, they should intimately know what you do, so they can work with you to frame the analysis. Con handled.

On top of knowing what you need, you have to be sure you’re ready to manage what you get. More staff, despite the fact that they’re temporary, means more people to manage; and not people you want to train for six months. Good vendors will help you with onboarding and guidance; great vendors will be in constant communication with their clients and their talent. However, it’s really you who will need to be on top of the additional staff, managing their tasks, integrating them into the team, and leveraging their expertise. The con is not being prepared to manage your temporary workers, resulting in frustration, poor use of your budget, and the project itself not getting the boost it needs.

It’s not just about managing them, though. Just as with new hires, even temporary talent face a learning curve; how fast they overcome it depends on the training you offer. Whatever the case, though, they won’t always hit the ground running. Clients need to be prepared to ease their temporary hires into the company’s processes, systems, and culture. This can all happen quickly, but it’s good to have the right expectations.

And if you do bring on a qualified staffing vendor, do the up-front job description analysis, make sure you have the time to manage the new talent, and respect that there will often be some degree of ramping up… Then, you have mitigated these risks and can reap the pros!

Testing And Learning From Your Talent

You want (and need) to date before you get married, correct? Staff augmentation provides a unique opportunity for clients, and talent too, actually, to test the waters for a potential future full-time position. The time the talent works for the client becomes an audition.

However, if you’re not in a position to offer a full-time job, it can be a little frustrating for you to lose a now-trusted and oriented key team member when the project is over. We’ve seen this phenomenon. Following the dating metaphor, you decide he or she is the one, but you have to move on. This is a soft con that’s hard to mitigate, but just something to be aware of.

Related to the above is when the project is over, those consultants walk out the door. A lot of times, their knowledge and expertise walk out, too.

That’s the nature of temporary talent; that is, the balance between the pros and cons of staff augmentation. Or, maybe Hayao Miyazaki would say, that’s the good in the evil and the evil in the good. Download the eBook Staff Augmentation For Learning And Development: The Agile Talent Solution For Modern Business to find out more about making this strategy work for your organization from SweetRush’s experts.

References:

1. Managing On-Demand Talent

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