Executive Leadership Coaching

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Ask Spinnaker: When Is Staff Augmentation the Right Decision Versus Hiring?

Apr 10, 2019

Written by: Shawn Sweeney

Got questions about trends, insights, and challenges related to Spinnaker’s areas of expertise? In this regular blog, we tap into our Spinnaker team of experts and do what we do best: Roll up our sleeves to find you the answers you need. In this installment “Ask Spinnaker,” we’re tackling a question all team leaders have asked themselves — and may be asking right now:

Question: When is staff augmentation the right decision versus hiring?

Shawn Sweeney, Spinnaker Managing Partner:

This is a question we hear often, and one we help our clients solve on a regular basis. When you have a new project or need to step up your response to specific business objectives in the short term, is staff augmentation the right decision versus hiring FTEs?

Why Consider Staff Augmentation?

First, let’s be clear: Staff augmentation is a highly effective strategy that can be applied to a wide range of experience levels, from entry level all the way up to executive and C-suite positions. It tends to be more commonly thought of as a way to add junior-level assistance — but that’s just not true. Experienced senior-level talent can bring game-changing expertise to your team in a staff augmentation scenario. Spinnaker’s team of experts, for example, are all seasoned senior-level professionals with decades of real-world business experience.

Second, staff augmentation is best considered when you don’t have in-house talent at the ready to take on a business challenge. It could be your organization lacks specialized skills. Or your in-house experts may already be engaged on other objectives from which they can’t be spared.

Third, staff augmentation is best to help you achieve shorter-term wins as well as to get a jump start on a mission-critical project that just can’t wait for a long hiring process. When building out your team with external resources through staff augmentation instead of hiring, you get the advantage of being able to ramp quickly as well as adding the expertise you need now. Bottom line: You get the right skills at the right time.

As with any business strategy, there are pros and cons to staff augmentation. Let’s take a look:

Staff Augmentation Pros

  1. FILL SKILL GAPS: Bringing in experts via staff augmentation fills critical gaps in your current team’s skillsets and areas of expertise. You get exactly what you need.
  2. SAVE TIME: Spare yourself a long hiring process and add the right people right now. Most companies take 1 to 2 months to hire a vacant position, and some as long as 4 months.
  3. AVOID BAD HIRES: When you’re not hiring, you don’t need to worry about making a costly bad hire. Nearly half of all new-hires fail within 18 months, primarily for reasons that have nothing to do with skill. For management new-hires, failure rates can climb as high as 60 percent within 18 months.
  4. SCALE FASTER: With staff augmentation, you can scale your workforce more quickly than with a full-time hire.
  5. IMPACT EFFECTIVENESS: Introduce your team to a new perspective and, ideally, more effective and efficient ways to conduct business through exposure to proven tactics and methodology. This has lasting organizational effects even after the staff augmentation engagement has ended.
  6. GAIN FLEXIBILITY: Because you’re not locked in to a full-time hire, when your project is completed or when business needs change, you can change your staff augmentation engagement accordingly.

Staff Augmentation Cons

  1. TEAM DYNAMICS: Anyone you bring on through staff augmentation will need to quickly integrate and collaborate with your current team to ensure the entire team’s success. Will your team embrace the opportunity for guidance and leadership at the highest levels? How can you prepare your team to see staff augmentation as an advantage, and not a threat?
  2. SKILL DEPENDENCY: It’s not uncommon to become dependent on the skill and expertise you’ve added via a limited staff augmentation engagement. That’s one factor that fuels contract extensions!
  3. GETTING UP TO SPEED: There’s a learning curve for anyone you bring in through staff augmentation. What that learning curve looks like depends largely on the individual. Our Spinnaker team of experts is able to ramp quickly because they’ve sat in that chair and solved similar problems before — so we’re able to jump in, roll up our sleeves, and get to work!

At Spinnaker, we’re experts at what you do. We augment teams all over the country. Our Spinnaker team of experts is made up of seasoned industry professionals with decades of proven experience. There’s no such thing as a “career consultant” in our ranks, just hardworking management-level individuals with deep first-hand knowledge of your business challenges and how to drive real results.

We want to hear from you! Got questions about trends in your industry? Want to know more about best practices in a specific area? Need advice about a challenge you’re trying to solve? Send your questions to info@SpinnakerConsultingGroup.com, or post a question for Ask Spinnaker to our LinkedIn page by tagging us at @Spinnaker Consulting Group LLC. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves to find you the answers!