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Finding the right staffing balance for tech projects can be tricky.

Too many employees can weigh a company down. But too few can leave the rest of the team feeling overwhelmed and burned out.

That’s the beauty of working with consultants. We can help businesses move projects forward, fill skill gaps and uplevel your team, all while saving your organization time and money.

As a consultant, I love joining a team to help them solve problems and accomplish their goals.

What I don’t love is seeing my contributions being reduced to “staff augmentation.”

In this post, I’ll explain why the “staff augmentation” mindset can hold your team and project back. And why ditching this term can help your whole team — employees and consultants — succeed.

The problem with “staff augmentation”

“Staff augmentation” is a common term companies use when they want to hire highly skilled consultants to help with a project on a temporary basis.

But in my experience, this term is problematic. It represents a mindset where consultants are regarded as fungible assets — instead of valued team members.

It also promotes the misconception that doubling the number of people working on a project will cut the timeline in half.

And that’s just not how projects work.

Even the most experienced consultants need time to assimilate with your team, learn your processes and understand your development ecosystem.

When you stop viewing your consultants as just butts in seats, your whole team benefits.

The consultant is recognized as a valued contributor who has:

  • Specialized skills to solve high-level problems
  • Communication strengths like explaining technical concepts to a mixed audience and getting important buy-in from stakeholders
  • Unique perspectives that provide a fresh take on issues or situations, such as breaking down a problem into smaller, more digestible components

Even better, the consultant will feel like they’re part of your team and company culture, increasing their motivation to help achieve the project’s goals and milestones.

Ditching the “staff augmentation” mindset results in increased productivity and a higher quality of work.

Instead of just a bunch of warm bodies wading through a list of tickets, you have a cohesive team that works together toward a shared goal.

Goodbye “staff augmentation.” Hello … ?

Words matter.

They influence how others view us and how we think about ourselves.

As a consultant, I’m not just here to “augment” your “staff.”

Instead, I want to bring my full self to every project. I want to use all of my skills, experience and knowledge to help you and your team succeed.

I want to work through your tickets and bring the higher-level expertise that helps ensure you get the most value out of the arrangement.

Now all we need is an alternative phrase to use in place of “staff augmentation.”

I have a few ideas brewing. But first I’d love to hear what speaks to you.

Feel free to get in touch here or on Twitter or LinkedIn. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!

In Mercedes' approach to software delivery and technical leadership, she learns everything she can about her client's and her team's goals to make an actionable plan to achieve success. She views her clients as partners and brings a unique blend of technical expertise, non-technical language, and empathetic insight to her work.

Contact us for a complimentary 30 minute consultation.

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