In today’s competitive tech space, CIO’s and IT leaders are hard-pressed to deliver digital innovation for their organizations, while at the same time maintaining a safe, secure and optimized network that supports almost every internal and external department. With a continually shifting economy, they are also expected to do more with less, and that often includes how to manage staffing to address immediate needs as well as long-term business growth. Often, an IT leader finds that a blended tech workforce is a viable solution. A blended tech workforce would be comprised of a selection of both full-time employees and IT consultants secured through a tech staffing firm.
By working with an IT staffing partner to plan a workforce strategy that solves for immediate project needs, IT departments can save money in the long run by onboarding tech specialists with the specific skill sets requirements for a finite engagement, minimizing the long-term budget implications for labor costs. With access to a vast tech talent pool, staffing experts also significantly reduce time-to-fill as they manage all the front-end work of sourcing, screening, interviewing, etc., delivering qualified candidates in a markedly less timeframe. Plus, there is the added bonus of bringing in a skilled expert that can support an existing IT department through process implementation, new programs and fresh thinking that can help increase their productivity as well.
With that said, however, it is a delicate balance to create a cohesive environment of IT consultants and current employees who will work effectively towards the common goal. There are important points to consider when bringing on contracted IT consultants to avoid sinking an initiative before it even gets afloat.
How to build your blended tech workforce:
1. Involve your current IT team to help assess the immediate talent need and define the timeline and requirements. Gather their input for the help they need, and who would best assist them to be successful in their jobs. Is it a group of developers that can help get the team over the finish line with an end date? Or will you need one IT consultant, with the option to extend the engagement upon project completion to support the new product or service? Existing team members must understand their value and their role to avoid feeling uneasy about an outside expert that can be viewed as competition. Which leads to point #2…
2. Reinforce that bringing in a consultant is an enhancement, not a replacement. In a culture where employees feel empowered, the IT department will welcome the extra hands to support their hard work. Employees and consultants can learn from one another as well; consultants may offer knowledge gleaned from different industries and disciplines given the nature of their contract work, and could impart new ideas that are transferrable to a new organization. Think of it as an opportunity for reskilling and upskilling for current employees while at the same time enlisting the help of an expert to move your business forward.
3. Build unity. An IT consultant’s success is predicated on the ability to collaborate effectively within the organization. It is equally important that when making the existing team feel at ease with their new team member that the IT consultant be integrated into the team as much as possible for optimal performance. The antiquated notion of “the temp” can still ring true where contracted staff can be made to feel like outsiders, working in siloes with limited access to the individuals they must engage with to complete their assignment.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Solve for unintended separation by having all stakeholders involved in onboarding and project kick-off. It speeds up the process, and consultants and employees can get to work together, faster. Plus, there should be a clear understanding of management and decision-makers so that IT consultants can communicate milestones. Just as an organization would onboard a full-time employee, hiring managers can work with the IT staffing partner, who assists and often leads onboarding, to provide all the necessary materials to make it a successful process.
- When creating a blended tech workforce, especially because of the sensitive nature of the systems that a contracted consultant may have access to, thorough vetting is of the utmost importance. New members of the blended tech workforce must have access to all tools needed to perform their roles including equipment, clearances, software, etc. Ensure that your IT staffing provider prioritizes all critical background checks and screenings when delivering qualified candidate selections.
Of course, much of what is noted above boils down to company culture at its core. A company rooted in transparency, collaboration and trust in their employees will have less resistance to bringing an expert on board that could be seen as a job threat. That’s why it’s important when working with an IT staffing firm that you communicate your culture and candidate expectation to the recruiters and account managers early on, so that they will search for talent who will be the right fit for your organization.
IT teams that are incredibly busy with mounting deadlines and deliverables will welcome this help if their feedback is heard and the hiring process is quick and efficient.