Staff Augmentation vs. Consulting: How Are They Different?

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Staff Augmentation vs. Consulting: How Are They Different?

In an ever-competitive economy, businesses are looking for traditional hiring alternatives to save on costs. Among the hiring approaches that companies consider include staff augmentation and consulting. It’s common for startups to compare both alternatives when determining how to best achieve their development goals and objectives.

The decision depends on various factors, including your current in-house team’s skills and capabilities, your current skill shortages, the company’s long and short-term goals, your project’s unique requirements, outcomes you expect to accomplish, and your budget. Some tech startups prefer to hire permanent staff, while others, prefer to bet on nearshore staff augmentation. Regardless of the choice, it’s imperative to understand first the difference between project-based consulting and staff augmentation. 

What is staff augmentation?

Staff augmentation is when a company temporarily hires a professional resource to supplement its in-house team for a particular project. It differs from standard recruitment in that it only involves short-term goals/assets. The main takeaways are “temporary'' and “professional,” meaning that the workers aren’t permanent team members. They’re only compensated for the hours they put in, but their hourly rates tend to be higher than those of in-house employees. Still, your company saves money because they are ineligible for any benefits, including medical, paid holidays, and sick leave. 

And since you’re hiring an expert resource, you do not have to waste resources training the temps because they already have the experience and expertise necessary to finish the project right away. Also, augmented staff are typically hired for projects with already laid-out parameters, instructions, and expectations.  

Pros of staff augmentation


Businesses use staff augmentation to cut back on costs. By hiring temps, a company is only liable to pay the finalized paycheck and not any other costs that come with hiring full-time employees. You also save costs on staff training and development as the staff comes with the necessary skills and expertise.


The current business environment is rather hostile and competitive. So, startups must be flexible if they expect to remain relevant and grow. Staff augmentation allows your business to expand its portfolio to non-core services by bringing in expert staff to complement your internal team. This gives you the flexibility and agility to stay relevant in your industry.


Having expert staff on board to take complete control of your project gives your project managers more control and capacity to supervise essential elements and ensure timely project completion.

Reduced risk

Project consulting may not be ideal for data-sensitive projects, including software development and others. Also, outsourcing your projects to a consulting agency means you lose control of project auditing and status. Staff augmentation relieves you of data- and identity theft-related risks while sharing progress and pitfalls and letting you monitor every aspect of your project until it’s done.

Counteracting attrition

Staff augmentation is a perfect deterrence for staff leaving your company. Nearly half of all IT specialists are open to moving to new companies when offered better perks or opportunities. This may leave your business with great voids in HR. So, staff augmentation may be the best way to quickly fill the open position without wasting resources.

Cons of staff augmentation


You’ll still spend resources to train the augmented staff on the company’s internal processes and on how to follow the company’s work culture. That means you won’t be able to run your project at full throttle right away.

Management capability

Onboarding new staff adds an extra resource to manage. While hiring experts means you won’t need extensive resources to be managed, you still need to create additional management capacity for the additional staff.

Integration with the internal team

Integrating your augmented staff with your internal team isn’t easy. Your augmented and internal staff need time to adjust to the new setting, hampering the project efficiency and execution speed for some time.

When to employ IT staff augmentation

Staff augmentation is ideal for more established organizations seeking specific skills and flexibility to enhance their internal team’s capabilities or extra support to meet deadlines and increase their team’s productivity. So, you should opt for staff augmentation when you need to scale the development of an already established project, onboard staff, fast with minimal training, or need flexible talent based on particular demands. 

A scenario

Suppose your tech startup already has an in-house team of software engineers handling a significant project. Still, you want to scale your team to include more developers who will handle another product unit. So, you’d need to hire more software developers. But since hiring is a painstakingly long process, you can opt for software development staff augmentation. There has been a high demand for IT staff augmentation among tech startups to achieve business goals and catch up with competitors.

Alternatively, if you’re a startup working with a team to create high-end products, it can be hard to find the right talent, and you may have hired staff that didn’t meet your expectations. So, you can opt to recruit talent from other countries or regions. In such a scenario, staff augmentation may be the perfect solution.

Let’s accelerate your company’s growth. Get in touch with TECLA to connect with the best on-demand nearshore talent. 

What is project-based consulting?

Project-based consulting is where a business onboards a specialized consultancy agency to handle a specific project. For example, a startup can hire an app development agency only to support its eCommerce’s mobile-friendly features. The consultancy agency can handle the technical support while you focus on networking and promotional campaigns.  

While consulting may seem like losing control for businesses, it lets them focus on core business issues while relieving non-core ones. Project-based consulting services typically offer a broad range of services under one roof. They conceptualize and plan your project, from staffing to managing it and offering post-launch support. They’re ideal for businesses that need help establishing project guidelines, determining the required skills and capabilities, and sourcing the required resources to deliver the project expectations. Project-based consulting services also offer continuing supervision, feedback, and high organizational adaptation. Consulting agencies play a more significant role in determining project vision and scope, unlike augmented staff who join a project once the parameters have already been established. 

Generally, consulting agencies offer clients set service packages. If you hire such an agency, you need to be aware of their flexibility in their services and how busy their workload is. Since they work with multiple clients at once, it can lead to delays in handling your project based on their availability. But since consulting services have the right experience and skills, they can help your business develop robust strategies necessary to manage projects and accomplish sustainable growth. Also, because they have experience from several companies and industries, they bring a refined, innovative approach and out-of-the-box thinking to meet and exceed your expectations. Plus, they have an objective viewpoint, giving your business access to mature and diverse ideas that your internal team can’t conceive.  

Pros of project-based consulting


Businesses often lack the necessary skills or, at times, the available resources to finish a project within deadlines. Hiring a project-based consultancy service means quick and easy access to professional services, ready to deliver your project within your budgetary and time constraints.


Startups hire consulting services to handle non-core business aspects such as financials or marketing. So, they’re not onboarding full-time staff or building an internal team to handle these tasks, which usually takes significant resources. Project-based consultancies have the internal resources necessary to address those issues and tend to offer highly competitive rates, making them cheaper than building an internal team.

Manageable infrastructure

Project consulting services have the complete infrastructure to deliver professional services without glitches. For example, hiring a digital marketing agency means you have access to an expert marketing team with thorough industry knowledge to assist with your marketing needs better than any internal resource.

Project assurance

Project-based consulting services bring their top talent and technical expertise to give your company much-needed peace of mind and assistance to complete your projects successfully.

Proactive approach

In today’s competitive world, businesses need to stay proactive in order to grow. Professional consulting firms are proactive in their project management approach. They keep you in the know should they experience any challenges during the project, thus letting you make better and well-informed choices.

Cons of project-based consulting


Consulting services are pricier than staff augmentation. So, you must rethink whether to hire a consulting agency if you’re working on a small-budget project. Higher costs are due to the range of expertise and resources a consulting service brings to help handle the project.


Project-based consulting agencies work with many clients at a go, which means they may not always respond to your requests promptly. Also, you may sometimes want to get in touch with them urgently, but they may be unable to grant your meeting request.

Fixed service packages aren’t customizable

Consulting agencies work with various projects, meaning they already have pre-made strategies and adopt their established methodologies to your project, which aren’t always effective for your project. Always check an agency’s experience, reputation, and project management approach before hiring them for your project.

When to employ project-based consulting

You can hire a project-based consulting service when you need strategic advice in a new field, resource commitment for a specific project, and support for industry standards and compliance.

Staff Augmentation vs. Consulting: What’s Suitable for Your Startup?

Now that we’ve compared staff augmentation vs. consulting, it’s time to understand what you should consider before choosing what’s ideal for your situation. 

  • Team members’ capabilities- First, evaluate your in-house team to determine their skill set, strengths, and weaknesses. Next, arrange a meeting and speak to your team, so you can understand what they need in terms of performance and workflow. 
  • Company culture- Consider the best fit for your company culture. Will your team be receptive to new staff taking charge of the project, or will it demotivate them? You obviously don’t want to demotivate your in-house team with your unilateral decision. And if your in-house team is not receptive, how do you ease their concerns and make sure that the collaboration between your internal team and the new staff goes smoothly? Encourage your internal team to share their opinions and thoughts to help you secure staff that not only meets your unique requirements but will also likely get along with your in-house team. Lowering the risk of conflict gives you a bigger shot at a successful project. 
  • Consider the firms- Do your market research to see the best firms to handle your project and their company culture. Project-based consulting and staff augmentation are external support, but they interact with your team members daily. So, it’s wiser to hire a team with the same work cultures and values.
  • Budget- Budget is an essential factor to consider, provided both approaches are intended to help cut back on costs. Check to see if the project budget lets you hire various staff for the project (necessary for big projects) or if it’s enough to onboard a reputable consulting agency. 


What does staff augmentation mean?
Staff augmentation, also known as resource augmentation, is often used when a startup, for instance, needs a small number of software developers with a specific skill set for a specific project. The need for hiring software developers can arise from new project requirements or an employee moving to a different project or leaving the company.
How can my company benefit from staff augmentation?
Staff augmentation benefits your company in 3 key aspects:
flexibility, saving time, and full compliance. You can scale up or down your team as needed with nearshore expert talent within approximately two weeks. Also, staff augmentation companies like TECLA take care of everything non-work related, like legal, HR, and payments.
What is the difference between staff augmentation and consulting?
Staff augmentation is used for onboarding experts on a project already in motion, while project-based consulting is more about hiring an entire team to see through a project from start to end.
Is staff augmentation consulting?
Augmented staff can be considered consultants because they bring their development expertise to a company they’re not directly affiliated with. Also, consulting agencies can offer both consulting and staff augmentation services in their portfolio.

Start cutting your hiring costs today. Why TECLA’s nearshore staff augmentation service is your best option

Staff augmentation is one of the most common solutions when it comes to flexible hiring. The international staffing industry, one of the leading suppliers of staff augmentation talent,  generates an annual spend of $490 billion. While it has become cheaper and easier to secure outsider talent, it can be hard to choose the best recruiting approach with the many options to choose from.

TECLA understands how daunting hiring can be, especially mid-project. If you’re looking to hire employees through nearshore staff augmentation, TECLA can help you find talented software developers. With over 10+ years in Latin America’s hiring scene and top of mind presence in 16+ countries, we connect you with top-tier talent at half the price. By leveraging our deep roots in the region, our smart matching technology and expert recruiting team, we have built a community of 20,000 software developers ready to join your team and achieve your goals. Kickstart your nearshore recruitment today!

Gino Ferrand


Gino Ferrand

Gino Ferrand

Gino is an expert in global recruitment having spent the last 10 years leading TECLA and helping world-class tech companies in the U.S. hire top talent in Latin America.

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