Help! I need somebody.
Help! Not just anybody.
Help! You know I need someone. Ooh.
Clearly, The Beatles were in a hot labor market when they wrote this song. It’s good to know that John, Paul, George, and Ringo were able to work things out. Many organizations today struggle with the challenge of finding somebody, not just anybody, to fill open positions.
A tight labor market can be frustrating for PMO Leaders and Project Managers. The pressure to complete projects marches along regardless of whether or not the right people are on board. To make matters worse, employees are moving to new companies in droves, leaving teams short-staffed.
We’re not sure where The Beatles found their help, but below are three avenues to pursue, the pros and cons of each, and a few examples of when one path is better than another. Keep in mind as you read through these that you can use one, or a combination of the three models listed below to fill your resource needs.
Full-Time Employee (FTE)
Full-Time Employees are hired directly by the organization. They receive an hourly wage or salary, most likely some benefits, and are expected to be around for the long term. Part-time employees also fall into this category if the project supports that model.
- Knowledge Stays - Since the expectation is that employees will be around for a while, so will the knowledge they gain and the relationships they build. It takes time to learn how to get things done within an organization, and long-term employees will have that ability.
- Helps Create Company Culture - FTEs aren’t stopping by for a visit; rather, they become part of the family. As such, they help shape and become part of an organization’s culture by attending social events, weathering challenging times, celebrating successes and being involved in all the other activities that define culture.
- Takes Time to Find the Right Person - You don’t want just anybody to join your organization. The right person not only has to have the necessary project skills and knowledge but must also get along well with the team. This takes time. One hiring technique is to ask, “What are the reasons I should not hire this person?” rather than why you should. If you don’t like the answer to that question, move on to the next candidate.
- Takes Time to Remove a Bad Fit - Uh oh, this FTE ended up being a bad fit and it is not working out as expected. Depending upon your organization’s HR policies, there may be a number of time-consuming and problematic hoops to jump through (verbal and written warnings, counseling, performance improvement plans, etc.) before you can remove them from the team.
A contractor is a “hired gun” that comes in to perform a particular task on a project for a fixed amount of time, usually in 6-12 month increments. They can be contracted directly or through a contracting firm.
- Able to Find Someone Faster - Contracting firms typically have a bench of people they pull from to fill a need. While being able to gel with a team is important, the bigger emphasis is on having the right skill set to get the job done for the project.
- Can Meet Fluctuating Demand - Contractors are also perfect for filling unknown or fluctuating demands. There may be a 12-month spike in project work, but uncertainty with what will be happening in month 13. An FTE could be sitting around with no work to do, while a contractor can move on to another customer at the end of their engagement.
- Usually More Expensive than FTEs - Contractors typically charge an hourly rate that is higher than an FTEs hourly (or salary converted to hourly) rate. They typically are covering their own benefits, the risk of not having steady work, as well as higher demand for certain skill sets.
- Will Need Some Time to Ramp Up - New contractors come into an organization cold, and need time to understand the business, its processes, technologies, and even culture. The good news is that this usually doesn’t take too long, as many contractors have developed ways of coming up to speed quickly in order to deliver value as soon as possible.
A consulting agency is generally a team of experts hired for a relatively short engagement to provide solutions to a problem, which includes strategies, recommendations, and next steps.
- Great if You Don’t Know Where to Start - If you find that you have a certain problem or opportunity, but no idea where to start, or you don’t have the necessary skills in-house, then a consulting company can do the trick. They typically specialize in a particular area and will have helped many other companies solve similar problems.
- Known Cost and Scope of Work - Consultants provide a Statement of Work (SOW) that defines timelines, deliverables, costs, and responsibilities before the engagement begins. This helps from a budgeting and planning perspective.
- Requires More Due Diligence- In order to create an accurate Statement of Work, consultants need to hold a number of meetings and discovery sessions ahead of time. Plus, depending upon the size of the SOW, the internal approval process for funding could add to this time. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it ensures a clear understanding of the engagement.
- Usually Not Around for Implementation - Consultants will move on once the SOW has been delivered. This typically means that they may not see if their recommendations, strategies, and tactics actually worked.
How Do I Know Which One To Use?
Every organization will have different needs, but below are a few questions to help define what’s best for you.
- Is this a long-term project with other projects right behind it?
- Yes - Employee
- No - Contractor
- Do we already have the necessary skills in our organization?
- Yes - Contractor or Employee
- No - Consultant
- Is there an exact budget amount we must meet?
- Yes - Consultant
- No - Employee or Contractor
Remember, you don’t need to stick to one model. Project size could require a consultant to kick things off, an FTE to pick up the implementation, and the onboarding of contractors to help with the execution.
Finding the right person for the right job will soon have you singing:
Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, ooh
The PMO Squad can help with all three of the above models. Contact us today to talk through how we can help you deliver projects better like we did for James McDonald, GM of Cirtec Medical.
“THE PMO SQUAD did a thorough and efficient assessment of our project management state. Upon completion of the assessment they were able to make recommendations and help us implement those changes to vastly improve our project management processes. This resulted in better real-time understanding of our performance to budget and schedule of our projects.”
For more musical Project Management advice, be sure to read High Voltage Project Management for some insight from our friends at AC/DC!