If you work in any sort of consulting, managed services, professional services, etc, there’s kinda no two ways about it - you will hit the issue of staffing. Matching people to the project is always a delicate balance, and, like any good problem, the complexity of actually doing this increases exponentially, with the amount of projects, people and skills. On one hand - great problem to have, on the other, how do you work through this without losing your mind or your budget? The author has seen multiple-hundred-leader calls that handled exactly this for billion dollar firms. Doing a simple back of the napkin calculation of bill rates for that meeting put the operational cost well into the millions of dollars a year.
- HYGEINE YOUR INFORMATION with scale: If you’re running a small shop, you generally know everybody, you probably hired them, you know their strengths and weaknesses. Larger firms often struggle with this; but it’s a bridge you have to cross at some point. Having a system to match up employees to skills they bring to the table is highly important. But keeping information up to date is equally as important.
- IDENTIFY POTENTIAL. There are folks out there who can hit the ground running on any project. Doesn’t matter the technology or vertical, they will go absolutely ham on anything you ask them to do. Conversely, there are narrow specialists that are exceptional at doing their one thing. Learning to identify various personalities, as well as assessing strengths and weaknesses become the hallmark of successful staffing.
- IT’S ALL STRATEGY. Staffing, on the surface is a tactical exercise. We have project, project needs staff, here’s who we have on the bench. Thinking about it from that perspective will inevitably lead to square peg in a round hole situations and not set up your firm, or your employees for success. Thinking about how the consultant will develop their skills, their own career goals, and understanding what the client goals are beyond the simple “deliver X solution” sometimes leads to uncomfortable conversations and needing to move people between projects, but it doesn’t happen often enough to not do it. Would you rather have a happy client with a happy team working for them and a successful engagement, or two indifferent clients with moderately successful, yet unhappy teams? The risk of turnover is very real.
- TURNOVER? Let’s be honest, this business of being a hired gun is not for everybody. In my experience in the technical consulting world newcomers last for approximately five years before either returning to or backflipping out to industry positions. The ones that have made it longer, generally will stay in the business for significantly longer. (Congratulations, the brain rot has set in. But you probably know that and already have full templates of presentations and sample architecture and code ready to go for the next ten years.)
- GOALS. Leaders in this space are often incentivized based on staff utilization which will drive them to make creative decisions. Take a very good look at your utilization metrics and requirements. Are they aligned with the sort of projects your organization wants to be doing? Are they aligned with the core values of the business that you’re growing?
Here at BTS, we do a few things to mitigate these pains from the ground floor. We’ve seen the challenges, and we’ve implemented fixes before we run into those problems. Look forward to us breaking the system and posting updates as we go through scale ourselves!