Staff Augmentation vs Managed Services: Which is Right for You?

June 27, 2023
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The Staff Augmentation vs Managed Services comparison is taking off and getting popularity in the IT industry. Both are popular among organizations and businesses that want to optimize their operations. But how do you know which one is right for your organization? We’ve covered the topic in detail while discussing both processes at length.

In today's competitive business landscape, organizations, especially IT companies, need skilled professionals with the right experience. However, it can be challenging to decide which staffing solution is the best fit for them. Two popular strategies that can help address these concerns are staff augmentation and managed services. And while both approaches involve leveraging external resources, there are distinct differences between the two.

In this blog post, we'll explore staff augmentation and managed services by comparing their key features. You’ll get to know their definitions, how they differ as well as their benefits and drawbacks. By understanding these, you'll be better equipped to determine which approach is the right fit for your business.

So let’s start with the basics!

What is the difference between staff augmentation and managed services?

Staff augmentation involves hiring temporary resources under the client's control. In short words, the client gets a designated amount of hours with specific personnel.

Whereas managed services involve outsourcing functions to a specialized service provider. The provider assumes responsibility for managing and delivering those services or a particular function.

difference between staff augmentation and managed services

Staff Augmentation vs Managed Services Model - Broad Comparison

Both staff augmentation and managed services are two different models for obtaining external resources to support business operations. Below are broader aspects of managed services vs staff augmentation comparison. 

Staff Augmentation Managed Services
Objective To fill short-term staffing needs To provide long-term IT support
Stakeholder Client Service provider
Cost Lower initial cost Higher initial cost
Payment Base Time and material SLAs and results
Flexibility Can scale up or down quickly A strategic approach to services
Project Management Full control of the project The service provider is responsible
Customization Customized staffing solutions Tailored solutions based on client’s specific needs
Time Commitment Good for Short-term Ideal for Long-term

Understanding Staff Augmentation

In general, staff augmentation is the process of hiring additional personnel to supplement the existing workforce. Usually, this is on a temporary basis and these individuals work under the client's supervision and management.

Staff augmentation is on the rise and so are the spendings on the services. This market is expected to grow with a 3.53% CAGR and is expected to become an $81.87 billion industry.

Understanding Staff Augmentation

Definition of Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation involves hiring external staff members who work alongside the existing team on a temporary or project basis. It is a versatile staffing strategy that enables organizations to fill skill gaps. You get to augment your workforce with external professionals or contractors. This way your organization can enhance its capacity and flexibility without a long-term commitment to hiring full-time employees.

Benefits of Staff Augmentation

The main objective is to supplement the existing workforce with specific skills and expertise, addressing skill gaps and increasing operational capacity. Staff augmentation offers several benefits that make it an attractive option for organizations, including:

Flexibility and Scalability

Staff augmentation provides the flexibility to scale the workforce up or down based on project requirements and timelines. Organizations can quickly onboard or release staff members as needed.

Access to Specialized Skills

By augmenting the existing team, organizations can tap into a larger talent pool. You can bring in professionals with specific skills and experience that may not be available within your internal team. This allows for the efficient execution of projects and tasks.


Staff augmentation can be more cost-effective than hiring full-time employees. Organizations can avoid the overhead costs associated with permanent staff, such as benefits, training, and equipment. They only pay for the services provided by the augmented staff members.

Faster Time to Market

With staff augmentation, organizations can expedite project timelines and meet deadlines more efficiently. The additional resources help distribute the workload and ensure timely project completion.

Knowledge Transfer

The external staff members bring their expertise and industry knowledge, which can benefit the existing team. Through knowledge sharing and skill development, they can contribute to the overall growth and capabilities of the organization.

Limitations of Staff Augmentation

While staff augmentation offers numerous advantages, there are also some limitations. It comes with certain challenges and considerations that you must keep in mind:

Limited Control over the Outsourced Team

As the organization retains control over project management, it is responsible for coordinating. For this, you have to align the efforts of the augmented staff members with internal teams. But since they aren’t your full-time employees, you will have limited control over this team. Therefore, effective project management practices are crucial to ensure successful outcomes.

Potential Communication Challenges

Working with external staff members may introduce communication challenges, especially when language barriers or cultural differences come into play. Clear communication channels and regular updates are essential to maintain alignment.

Time and Effort Required for Managing the Augmented Staff

Integrating external staff members seamlessly into existing teams can require effort. You may have to set rules and guidelines in terms of communication, collaboration, and team dynamics. Moreover, clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations need to be defined to ensure smooth collaboration.

Retention of Intellectual Property

With external staff members coming and going, organizations need to be mindful of protecting their intellectual property. Proper agreements and contracts should be in place to ensure confidentiality and ownership rights.

Best Use Cases for Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation is particularly suitable for the following scenarios:

Temporary Skill Gaps: When organizations have short-term skill gaps, staff augmentation provides a quick and efficient solution. Hiring external professionals during a sudden surge in workload allows organizations to bridge the skill gap. Above all, the company or manager can ensure timely project completion.

 Project-Based Work: Staff augmentation is well suited for projects that have a defined scope and duration. Organizations can bring in external resources specifically for the duration of the project. This will ensure that the necessary skills are available without long-term commitments.

Seasonal Demand: In industries that experience seasonal fluctuations in demand, staff augmentation can be an effective strategy. Organizations can scale up their workforce during busy periods and scale down during slower times, optimizing resource utilization.

Pilot Projects: Staff augmentation can provide the necessary expertise when organizations are testing new initiatives. External professionals can contribute their specialized knowledge and support pilot projects. This provides the opportunity to explore innovative ideas without disrupting the existing team. 

Exploring Managed Services

Managed services involve outsourcing specific IT or business functions to a third-party service provider. According to Statista, the managed services market will be a 300 billion dollars global industry in 2027.

Exploring Managed Services

Now let’s explore the critical aspects of managed services.

Definition of Managed Services

Normally, managed services offer organizations the opportunity to delegate specific functions to external service providers. These providers bring specialized expertise, processes, and resources to handle the designated services. This involves engaging a service provider to handle specific functions, such as IT infrastructure management, network security, or application support.

As a result, managed services allow organizations to focus on their core competencies. The primary objective is to benefit from the expertise and specialized services provided by the external provider.

Advantages of Managed Services

Managed services offer the following benefits that make them an appealing option for organizations:

Comprehensive IT Support and Maintenance

Service providers typically have specialized knowledge and experience in managing specific technologies or functions. They bring their expertise to the table, providing a high level of proficiency and ensuring efficient service delivery. In a nutshell, you get comprehensive IT support and maintenance in the desired department.

Proactive Monitoring and Issue Resolution

Managed services often include proactive monitoring, issue detection, and 24/7 support. Service providers employ advanced tools and technologies to monitor systems and identify potential issues to ensure smooth operations.

Access to a Team of Experts

By leveraging external resources, organizations gain access to a broader range of skilled professionals. It becomes possible to recruit experts with specialized abilities and extensive experience that might be lacking within the internal workforce. As a result, projects and tasks can be executed efficiently.

Focus on Core Business

By outsourcing non-core functions to a managed services provider, organizations can focus on their internal resources. They can make efforts on strategic initiatives and core business activities. This allows for better resource allocation and increased efficiency.

Cost Savings and Predictable Expenses

Managed services can be cost-effective compared to maintaining an in-house team for certain functions. Organizations can avoid upfront investments in infrastructure, training, and hiring. Instead of paying for the perks, they only pay for the services provided by the service provider.

Drawbacks of Managed Services

Like staff augmentation, managed services also pose some challenges for a business. Below are the drawbacks that you need to consider before opting for managed services.

Higher Cost Compared to Staff Augmentation

While managed services are cost-effective compared to an in-house team, it’s expensive as compared to staff augmentation. You’ll have little control and may have to bear extra costs in terms of resource management.

Vendor Selection and SLAs
Choosing the right managed services provider can be hectic and often takes time. You need to thoroughly evaluate potential vendors, considering factors such as their expertise and track record. Then you have to focus on service level agreements (SLAs) and alignment with organizational goals.

Potential Lack of Customization

Managed service providers often don’t offer much customization in terms of services or talent disposal. You’ll only get what you’ve agreed to in the contract and nothing more. This can create issues when you’ll need someone to look the other way only to resolve a minor issue at work.

Dependency on the Service Provider

Another drawback of managed services is the dependency on your service provider. You’ll have experts at your disposal but the provider will have more control than you. Your organization will be dependent on the service provider in terms of workload, resource distribution, and accountability.

Integration with Existing Systems
Integrating managed services into existing systems and processes can be complex. It requires coordination and collaboration between the organization and the service provider to ensure a seamless integration that aligns with existing workflows.

Security and Data Privacy

Furthermore, when outsourcing critical functions, security, and data privacy become paramount. Organizations need to ensure that the managed services provider has robust security measures in place and adheres to industry best practices to protect sensitive data.

Best Use Cases for Managed Services

Managed services are particularly suitable for the following scenarios:

IT Infrastructure Management: Outsourcing the management of IT infrastructure allows organizations to leverage the expertise of service providers. You can outsource servers, networks, and storage-related tasks to people who specialize in maintaining and optimizing these systems.

Cloud Services: Managing cloud environments, such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or software as a service (SaaS), can be efficiently handled by a managed services provider. They can ensure scalability, security, and ongoing support for cloud-based solutions.

Network and Security Management: Organizations can benefit from outsourcing network monitoring, firewall management, and intrusion detection. You can outsource such security-related tasks to service providers who specialize in network and security management.

Application Management: Managing and supporting critical business applications can be efficiently handled by a dedicated managed services provider. The same goes for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms.

Help Desk and End-User Support: Outsourcing help desk services and end-user support allows organizations to provide timely assistance to employees or customers, ensuring smooth operations and user satisfaction.

Determining the Right Solution for Your Business

Now that you have a good grasp over staff augmentation vs managed services, it’s time to consider the right approach. Below are some factors that you must consider:

Assessing Your Business Needs and Goals

Assess the complexity and specialization required for the tasks or functions you need to outsource. Staff augmentation provides access to specific skills and expertise, while managed services offer a broader range of specialized services and comprehensive management.

Scale and Duration of Resource Needs

Evaluate whether you need temporary support to fill skill gaps or ongoing management of specific functions. Staff augmentation is more suitable for short-term needs, while managed services are ideal for long-term or recurring requirements.

Control and Management Preferences

Determine the level of control and management you want to retain over the outsourced functions. Staff augmentation allows for more direct control and coordination, while managed services transfer the responsibility of managing and delivering the tasks to the service provider.

Budget and Cost Considerations

Consider your budgetary constraints and cost projections. Staff augmentation may provide more cost flexibility, as you can hire resources on a project-by-project basis, whereas managed services typically involve ongoing service fees.

Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

Align your decision with your long-term business goals. If you require short-term support for specific projects, staff augmentation can provide the necessary resources. For long-term strategic initiatives or functions that are not core to your business, managed services can offer sustainable and scalable solutions.

Level of Integration with Existing Teams

Evaluate how seamlessly you can integrate external resources with your internal teams. Staff augmentation involves closer collaboration and integration, whereas managed services involve a more independent relationship with the service provider.

Risk Management and Compliance Requirements

Consider any risk management and compliance requirements specific to your industry or organization. Determine whether staff augmentation or managed services providers have the necessary security measures, certifications, and compliance frameworks in place to meet your needs.

Considerations for Choosing Staff Augmentation

When considering staff augmentation, organizations should carefully evaluate the following points:

Project-Based Requirements

You must consider how quickly your organization can ramp up the team size during peak periods. Similarly, how easily you’ll be able to scale down when the project workload decreases. Also, focus on the access to specialized skills and expertise that may be required for specific projects.

Your organization should have dedicated resources solely focused on their project. This can enhance productivity and efficiency as the augmented team members will be aligned with the project's objectives.

Short-Term Resource Needs

Staff augmentation offers cost advantages for short-term resource needs. So you should focus on quick resource onboarding while going for staff augmentation. It’ll allow your organization to access talent without the need for extensive training or onboarding time.

Also, consider the flexibility in terms of resource allocation while choosing staff augmentation. Your organizations should be able to bring in resources for specific timeframes or project phases. But always ensure that they have the right expertise when needed while avoiding the burden of long-term commitments.

Flexibility and Control over the Outsourced Team

With staff augmentation, organizations have the flexibility to choose specific team members. So should be able to select individuals based on skills, experience, cultural fit, and compatibility with the existing team.

Moreover, your organization should always have direct control and clear communication channels with the augmented team members. This will facilitate better collaboration and efficient coordination of tasks and deliverables.

Considerations for Choosing Managed Services

While choosing managed services, you should keep in mind the following considerations:

Long-Term IT Support Needs

When you get managed services for a long time, your organization may become heavily dependent on the provider's expertise and availability. And if the service provider faces challenges, it can impact your organization as well. Also, with managed services, you can lose direct control over the support processes and decision-making.

Proactive Monitoring and Maintenance

Managed services providers typically monitor specific aspects of IT infrastructure or applications based on predefined metrics and thresholds. There may be limitations on the depth and breadth of monitoring, and certain areas may not be covered comprehensively. This can result in undetected issues or gaps in proactive maintenance.

Despite proactive monitoring efforts, managed services are still primarily reactive in nature. The service provider may identify and address potential issues but they may not always have complete visibility or control. They often rely on predefined monitoring rules and generalized best practices. This is something that may not fully align with your organization's needs.

Access to a Team of Experts on an Ongoing Basis

Managed services providers serve multiple clients simultaneously, which means their resources may be shared among different organizations. This can result in limited availability and attention dedicated to any single organization. This simply means that your organization may not have exclusive access to a dedicated team of experts

Also, the expertise of the managed services team relies on the provider's investment in skill development. So the provider must prioritize ongoing learning and keep up with emerging technologies and industry trends. If they fail to do so, the team's knowledge may become outdated over time. This can limit their ability to provide cutting-edge solutions or keep pace with the organization's evolving IT needs.


All in all, the choice between staff augmentation and managed services ultimately depends on your specific needs. It is crucial to assess your organization's resources, expertise, and long-term objectives when making this decision.

Staff augmentation offers the flexibility and control of selecting and managing your own team members. Furthermore, it offers a higher level of customization and integration into existing processes. On the other hand, managed services provide comprehensive support and expertise. This service allows you to offload certain responsibilities and focus on core business functions. 

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