Adding IT-resources: Hiring or contracting?

Photo at blog from webmaster - 21/09/2010 - 13:03

When the crises did hit us, I commented on Cleaning out the IT-department and some additions. Amongst others I suggested to seek for a good balance between using hired and contracted staff. Now that things are starting to grow again, this balance becomes a topic of discussion again within senior management. In my opinion you have to re-apply the things I suggested when you had to shrink your operation.

So the first element I suggest to revise your company's current IT-resource state of the union. Do a SWOT-analysis again with the following 10 elements in mind:

  1. Look at your IT-portfolio outlook for the next 2 years
  2. How does your current IT group perform
  3. What will need to change to meet your portfolio outlook
  4. What company strategies will influence your choices
  5. What can you afford
  6. What can be outsourced and what not (define what work is commodity and what is truly unique for your company)
  7. Ask your people what they want
  8. What makes your company attractive to work for
  9. What innovation is needed
  10. What is the prediction for your local IT labor market

After answering these questions set the boundaries, size and structure for your IT-crew based upon the following principles:

  • Define the added value of an individual to the business, process, project or organization
  • Only accept really required overhead which remains after delegation
  • Organize around business function rather than tasks
  • Create structures with just-big-enough empowered teams
  • Think of introducing quality bonuses
  • Invest in training and coaching of your staff that shows the attitude to get it done
  • You are better off with less but better and more agile people
  • Keep cleaning out mediocre performance that cost too much management attention

Yes, guilty! All of the above mentioned things can be found in my earlier blogs around adjusting to the economic downfall. But this is not weird: good management principles are as valid in upturn as in downturn focusing on.

Yes guilty again! The title of this blog suggest a talk about the pro's and con's of hiring versus contracting. I tried to convince you in the above that this is a not a primary discussion but one that results from answering the questions stated.

If you know what you have to do and how to do it just look at the resource you have and are missing. Then don't discriminate between internal and external resources: choose the best availability / price / performance mix for the tasks at hand.

Yes of course there are some HR-elements to arrange like corporate emoluments, company binding, training investment, communication, etc. None of these elements though are really showstoppers and can be overcome if HR-departments finally accept that flexible labor contracts are becoming a standard part of our world.

In summary: hire or contract by conscious demand, not by principle.

As always comments welcomed.

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