No matter how competent your workforce is, you may need the support of external specialists at some point. But even with that, there is no unique, standard way this could be done.

To accomplish their long- and short-term objectives, organizations tend to engage professionals under three popular models—staff augmentation, outsourcing, and consulting.

The goal with each of them is clear: get the services of technical experts for your business. At the same time, however, these strategies complement distinct business scenarios.

Sometimes, you just need extra pairs of hands for your project; other times, you should be better off contracting out the entire project. In other cases, you require a technical pundit by your side for ongoing support.

Deciding which model is right for you can be confusing. And if you take a wrong step, the damage can be lasting.

To make your decision-making process easy, this guide will draw an in-depth comparison between staff augmentation, outsourcing, and consulting

Together we will discuss their use cases, winning features, important considerations, and limitations. So, let’s take a deep dive!

Staff Augmentation Vs Outsourcing Vs Project-Based Consulting

What is Staff Augmentation

Ever thought about giving wings to your in-house team? With staff augmentation, it is possible!

Staff augmentation is a hiring model where you get people on board temporarily to enhance your staffing potential. In other words, the augmented staff provides the technical input on projects and fills up talent shortage in your human resources.

Though it has a wide array of intricacies, the highlight of this model is ‘greater control’. The temporary staff works under the supervision of your managers, catering to feedback and instructions throughout.

Putting into context, suppose you have user interface experts in your company but you miss out on experienced app developers. You could hire a few app developers but you do not have time in reserve. In such cases, staff augmentation might be a reasonable solution, allowing flexibility at every step.



Defining Project Outsourcing

If you supplement your in-house team with a bunch of app developers to design an android app, it would be staff augmentation. But if you hire an independent team of app developers to design an app for you, it would be project outsourcing.

Project outsourcing is a management strategy that uses outside resources to perform operations otherwise handled by in-house staff. The outsourcing agency works without the influence of the client, who in turn is concerned with the result— not the process.

In staff augmentation, the burden of risk stays mainly on the client since they are actively involved in the decision-making and monitoring process. In outsourcing, however, the outsourcing agency is predominantly accountable for the outcome.

Defining Project Outsourcing



Defining Consulting Service

Suppose you want someone to finetune the digital presence of your business but you are not sure:

In this scenario, your best shot would be a consulting service. The reason is you not only need an extra pair of hands to provide digital services, but you require guidelines and a roadmap as well.

Project-based consulting entails a one-stop-shop solution, comprising conceptualization, planning, staffing, management, and post-launch support. It is ideal for businesses that are yet to have a firm footing in the corporate landscape and require seasoned professionals to determine the scope and vision of projects.

Defining Consulting Service



Summarizing The Differences

FacetsStaff AugmentationOutsourcingConsulting
PurposeTo fill the skill gap and increase capacityAssign a project to an external team for complete executionProvide direction, strategies, as well as resources
ControlStays with the clientStays with the vendorCould be two-directional most likely with the consultant
InfrastructureThe company is primarily responsible for itThe vendor arranges every resource to complete the projectThe consultant extends full infrastructure to carry out the project
CommunicationFastest availabilityReasonably quickSlowest of all
SecuritySomewhat compromised since the external teams have good exposure to in-house processesNot a big concern because the outsourcing agencies work externallyThis could be a risk because you may need to provide access to sensitive information
LengthShort-termCould be prolonged and ongoingDiffers case by case
CostUsually, the cheapest of the threeCost-effective but more expensive than staff augmentationThe most expensive option owing to its intricacies and full support

Which One to Choose?

Staff augmentation, outsourcing, and consulting are three of the leading strategies organizations use to manage their productivity. However, they only yield optimal results when deployed accordingly.

which one to choose

Let’s recap which situations call for the three types:

Use staff augmentation when:

Use outsourcing when:

Use consulting when: