At many organizations, IT partnering with vendors for talent is a quick means to a short-lived end. It would be best if you had someone to write some code, but you don’t have enough time or a big enough team to make it happen. You call up a third party, and it gets done.
There’s value in this approach. After all, everyone wishes they had a way to complete important tasks during a crunch. At the same, limiting outsourced arrangements to those sorts of situations forfeits an enormous opportunity to empower your in-house team and address more consequential, “big picture” business challenges.
Here are eight ways temporary talent can help you build an even better internal team
1. Take advantage of other professionals’ experience
Just as every great writer needs a great editor, all great developers can benefit from having other professionals peer into their problems and solutions.
Outsourcing exposes other talented developers to your code as well as the business challenges that code seeks to address. Given the skills shortage across the IT landscape – 65% of CIOs reported a skills shortage in the recent Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey – getting your code in front of other talented developers can be extremely valuable. That’s especially true when those developers possess skills that might be lacking at your organization.
This approach to outsourcing is handy when you need some help in a niche area of development. For example, maybe you need to bring in someone who’s proficient with modernizing legacy middleware applications to a cloud-native, microservices architecture, but you don’t need to hire them for a permanent role. Assuming you can find a third party with expertise in delivering on such cloud transformation journeys, outsourcing is a fantastic way to gain immediate access to this skill set AND transfer the knowledge to your existing team.
2. Eliminate latent complacency
Whether we realize it or not, IT leaders and development teams often become complacent with the status quo. Unfortunately, complacency can set in even when the status quo isn’t optimal.
A recent Gallup State of the American Workplace report indicates that as many as 70% of US workers are “not engaged” on the job. By bringing outsourced talent into your operation, you can breathe new life into an otherwise unmotivated team. It’s kind of like going to the gym. If you’re there all alone, it’s easy to limit your workout routine to the bare minimum. But when you’re there with lots of other people, you’re challenged, wittingly or unwittingly, to put in a hard workout.
Consider a scenario where project deadlines have become hit and miss. After your people begin collaborating with a team that can hit those deadlines more consistently, they “miraculously” start completing internal projects quicker, too.
3. “Blank slate” collaboration
Although nobody likes to talk about it, it’s very common for personalities & siloed interests to clash in an enterprise IT work environment. Internal friction, whether or not the organization’s technology leadership explicitly acknowledges it, can slow down progress and make it difficult for teams to forge ahead. With agility being central to many if not most modernization projects, untangling this collaboration anti-pattern is vital for leaders.
According to Kirsten E. Ross, a consultant who helps companies develop positive workplace cultures, one of the best ways to transcend these conflicts is to create incentives for results. To that end, “[modeling] the behavior” you want your team to emulate is key.
What better way to model behavior than to bring in a motivated team that’s immune to existing internal strife? In the context of workplace culture, outsourced teams are a blank slate. They have no exposure to the productivity-killing friction that inhibits achievements.
In other words, they’re a potentially excellent behavioral model for your own people.
4. Push button team expansion
Ever encountered a technical impediment that stumps half of your scrum team for the entire sprint? Of course you have.
Immediate team expansion is one of the key benefits of outsourcing. But for organizations accustomed to outsourcing one-off tasks, it’s a frequently neglected benefit. Taking advantage of outside talent empowers your team because it frees them from spending hours of valuable time on relatively low-value, yet still necessary, contributions.
5. Finish projects on the backburner
You’re busy. As such, numerous projects are languishing in your queue. Most of them are low priority projects at the moment, but cumulatively they’re valuable and need to get done.
These “backburner” tasks add up quickly, and failing to complete them can eventually slow down progress on more consequential projects. Imagine the giant sigh of relief your team will elicit when they learn that they won’t have to deal with those accumulating tasks? Your outsourcing partner will take care of them, so your people can stay focused on work they want to be doing.
According to David Saef, Executive Vice President of an event marketing company, “[planning] around peaks and troughs” can help organizations clear the backburner. By outsourcing during your busy season, you make it easier to focus on important business initiatives during your slow season. You won’t spend the slower months playing catch up.
6. Low-cost innovation
IT leaders face increasing pressure to innovate. According to a recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey, an overwhelming majority of CEOs (74%) “feel that innovation is as important to the success of their company as operational effectiveness.”
But how can you innovate when your team is already busy servicing existing infrastructure or products? Outsourcing to a team with comparable skill sets is a way to obtain a proof of concept (PoC) for a relatively low cost – and within a time frame that satisfies management.
Consider the organization that needs a new application to integrate disparate business functions for improved efficiency. The CEO doesn’t approve these sorts of things without hard evidence that it’s worth the investment, so you outsource the project. The result? Not only do you have your PoC, but you didn’t have to increase your workload or stretch your budget to make it happen.
7. Fewer headaches for management
Managing people requires time and energy. A temporary team that you don’t have to manage gives you significant output for relatively little input. All you have to do is find the team and sort out the contract. Your point of contact takes care of the rest.
To that end, be sure to connect with a team led by an experienced point of contact. You want to be sure you’re working with someone who communicates proactively and has experience with the sort of challenges you’re trying to address.
8. Learning opportunities for everyone, IT leaders included
Remember the last time an engineer showed you a corner case that your team otherwise would have missed? Maybe your team wasn’t on its game that day, or maybe you just needed to show the problem to someone who had seen it before. Maybe your organization has never focused on test automation and therefore your team has no experience with it or idea of the value that some modern engineering practices can bring to the table. Regardless, exposing your challenges to people with a variety of experiences – experiences that differ from your own – is a fantastic learning opportunity.
Outsourcing is the perfect way to enable these sorts of learning opportunities. Through a productive, effective engagement, any team will learn new ways to solve problems, new skill sets to employ, and new requirements for future hires.
In other words, outsourcing holds learning potential not just for your people, but for IT leaders as well. Seeing how another team addresses the problems you encounter every day helps you anticipate upcoming challenges and identify opportunities for innovation.
And the more you learn, the more you can enhance existing processes. Far more than a “quick win,” outsourcing is a way to empower and challenge the status quo.
It’s also a way to help your organization grow.