Staff Augmentation vs Time and Material: Understanding the Differences

Staff Augmentation vs Time and Material: Understanding the Differences

When speaking of IT outsourcing, two primary models often come into play: staff augmentation and the time and material model. Each has distinct characteristics and advantages, making the choice between them critical for project success.

What is Staff Augmentation?

Staff augmentation is a model where companies expand their in-house teams by outsourcing talent, especially for IT projects. This model is known for its flexibility in scaling the team according to project needs, allowing organizations to augment their workforce with external engineers on a contract basis. It’s a cost-effective solution as it eliminates the costs associated with full-time employees like benefits and training. Staff augmentation also provides access to specialized talent, crucial in technology projects where specific expertise is required​​.

What is the Time and Material Model?

The time and material model, commonly used in software development outsourcing, offers adaptability and is suitable for projects with evolving requirements. Unlike fixed-price contracts, this model allows for greater flexibility in scope and budget. This flexibility facilitates a faster project launch and adaptability to changes. However, it comes with the challenge of uncertain budgeting and increased management efforts. The time and material model is ideal for complex projects with evolving scopes and requires careful management of resources​​.

Key Differences

  1. Project Duration: Staff augmentation suits short-term projects or specific tasks within larger projects, while the time and material model is better for longer projects with evolving requirements​​.
  2. Cost Calculations: Staff augmentation is more cost-effective for short-term projects, whereas the time and material model offers budgeting flexibility for long-term projects​​.
  3. Data Sensitivity and Security: If a project involves sensitive data, a dedicated team through outsourcing may provide better security measures. Staff augmentation might be more suitable where data security is not as critical​​.
  4. Project Management and Control: Staff augmentation requires effective management between the augmented and in-house teams. In contrast, a dedicated team model allows businesses more control over the project, with the remote software house taking responsibility for execution​​.
  5. Resource Availability and Scalability: Staff augmentation provides access to a broad talent pool and allows quick scaling of teams. Outsourcing a dedicated team offers scalability and comprehensive services for long-term projects​​.


Choosing between staff augmentation and the time and material model depends on various factors like project duration, budgeting, data sensitivity, and management needs. Staff augmentation offers flexibility and cost-effectiveness for short-term projects with a need for specialized talent. In contrast, the time and material model is more suited to long-term projects with evolving requirements and scope, albeit with budget uncertainties. Understanding these differences is crucial for organizations to select the model that aligns best with their project objectives and constraints.