11 July 2022

Staff augmentation model – how to use it in building service design, innovation and change management teams

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Agnieszka Korytowska
Partnership Manager | Service Design Lead

In the ever-growing and dynamically changing business environment, companies see more and more value coming from well-designed services. There is also a growing understanding of strategic methodologies and awareness of the value of building services around products. More and more organizations are looking for experts in designing services to support the company’s development towards service design and change management or broadly understood innovations. However, the lack of qualified designers with sufficiently extensive knowledge necessary for projects in this field is a reality that the market has to face.


In search of good designers

The most important question that arises is who exactly is a service designer and what set of competences they should have. The profession of service designer is understood very broadly and often differently depending on the organization. Service Design Network Poland together with the Service Design Poland association tried to standardize the profession and narrow down its characteristics, but a unified definition has not yet been created. Currently, one can find LinkedIn profiles of several hundred thousand service designers, CX managers, change managers, and managers responsible for process optimization and business transformation. Often their duties overlap. Their common characteristic is the need for broad competences. In order for the designer (of service, change or experience) to be able to provide the company with real value, they should also demonstrate a thorough understanding of business specifics.

Most of the offers for the position of service designer mention among the main expectations: “experience in designing complex service systems with many touchpoints”, “ability to conduct and synthesize research and observations”, “portfolio presenting various design solutions and strategic approaches”. The following are also appreciated: skills in the field of UX, graphic, facilitation, storytelling, in the field of project management, knowledge of languages, psychology and cognitive sciences.

Is it realistic to expect that a single service designer will be able to show off all these skills – and at the same time, broad knowledge of the industry and business models? With several decades of work experience – it is possible. However, there are very few such unicorn designers on the market.


Variety of solutions

Luckily, many outsourcing models exist to help solve the issue. Basic ones include reducing recruitment and payroll costs, optimizing project time or increasing operational efficiency (and thus the space to focus on the main activities of the organization).

However, the most important benefit we get is the possibility to benefit from the extensive knowledge base of a qualified partner. Only a team of experts specialized in various fields supporting service design can gather such a knowledge base. That is why more and more companies decide to delegate service design responsibilities to third parties.


Competence integration

Staff augmentation is one of the most frequently used models of such cooperation. Simply put, staff augmentation is the temporary use of external specialists to increase the capacity of your own organization. It is a type of outsourcing strategy where employees are hired to fill project gaps in line with current business goals. Professionals are recruited based on the skills needed and may be hired for short or long term projects.

Staff augmentation allows you to select experts from an international talent pool – experts with the skill set that will be most useful for a specific project. Specialists can be engaged based on the field, industry or tool crucial for the project; without unnecessary difficulties. It is a flexible model, which means that the organization employs as many designers as are needed at the moment. It also has full control over the development of the project, while not incurring the costs of equipment or renting an office. No wonder that this type of cooperation is used by giants such as Apple, Google and General Motors.

On the other hand, consulting agencies also offer their services in the staff augmentation model more and more often – such as Canadian Outwitly, cooperating on service design projects with companies from various industries, or DesignMap, lending their UX experts. Their services have already been used by Bloomberg to develop an innovative approach to data set visualization in Bloomberg Vault, as well as by Salesforce, where experts were initially involved in the redesign of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and then the project turned into a seven-year collaboration in shaping a new generation of marketing software.

We have been undertaking this type of cooperation in recent months in Sociomania, focusing on designing services and innovations. We’ll be revealing more details soon, stay tuned!


Staff augmentation in service design and innovation

Outsourcing models turn out to be extremely effective in activities related to the optimization of processes in the organization, improvement of current services, creation of new ones, and all kinds of innovations or searching for new ways of company development.

Do you have to be a business giant looking for subcontractors to make such a cooperation model fully beneficial? Not at all. More and more service design, UX, marketing and even graphic or IT studios join forces in this model. Why? In order to be able to benefit from the full potential of their respective specialists and to provide the client with the best possible value.

Agencies have long realized that by involving not only experts specialized in the field of the project, but also by using a wider pool of knowledge and experience, they achieve better final results – regardless of the nature of the project. Organizations involved in service design and innovation know this best – after all, they are dealing with the enormous demand for a wide range of competences among designers; scope that changes with each subsequent project.


“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” 

– H.E. Luccock


Want to join a network of designers and organizations interested in the mutual integration of services or looking to supplement their team’s competences? This is the kind of network we are creating. Give us a shout: [email protected].


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