Written by Magdalena Brauer (HR Manager, Solwit SA)
If you are: a Project Manager, a Product Owner, an HR Manager, an IT Supervisor, a Product Manager, or a Delivery Manager and you are facing the challenge of building an IT team, you should probably consider outsourcing as the right and the best way to go.
As an HR Business Partner I have experienced this dilemma multiple times. Did I hesitate to commit to an already formed team dedicated to development and testing of IT solutions? Of course I did. So what arguments convinced me to choose this route and what gave the stakeholders the conviction it was the right choice?
Being aware that a fully fitted project team is a luxury for every Project Manager. It is fair to say it does not go unnoticed by the HR Manager too. To be fair, it is not often that one manages to complete a team to start a project all at one time. It is mostly due to the recruitment proceedings, but the questions the Project Manager needs to face before the process are also a substantial part of the schedule. How many people are required to fulfill the tasks? Will the team co-operate efficiently? How to match the skills and competence to successfully realize all the assumptions of the project?
When outsourcing a ready-made team these problems become marginal – the team members are already set to work within an established organizational culture and exercise their competence, while sharing common values. What is more, they have already been developing as co-workers in the environment endorsing proper co-operation and communication. What is more, their skills and attitudes have been enhanced by their direct employer investing in their team-building and training. All of that leads to a team ready to undertake a project with full efficiency from the start.
Firstly, you save the time you would have to waste for recruiting employees – it is not an issue in the leasing case. On average, recruiting a single candidate takes about 10 weeks, depending on the competence and experience requirements of the position. If we also account for the transition period of the candidate, i.e. finishing their obligation towards the previous employee, we can see that it might take 4 or 5 months from the moment the employment need arises for the new member to actually join the company. Sometimes it is acceptable to wait that long, but most of the times the Manager’s schedule includes a point with a big „ASAP” acronym right next to it, which is by no means a sign of poor organization, but rather a clear indication of how the IT world operates and how dynamic it is.
Secondly, building an effective team takes time.
A well-functioning team has to constitute a single body, made of complementary and compatible parts, and creating its own micro-environment. It knows how to deal with tough situations. It is built on qualities necessary to reach full synergy: common trust among the members, their openness, involvement, and striving for the best quality. In the case of a newly-built team, every disturbance, e.g. a new member joining, has the potential of derailing the whole team. What is more, such addition is never easy for the joining members themselves – they need to learn everything anew, they need to get used to the new environment, accommodate new rules and responsibilities, they need to find their own places in the new reality. This process is never quick, it is estimated to last about 29 weeks before an employee reaches his or her full efficiency.
Employer branding, i.e. the effort to keep an employee, constitutes an impressive record in budgets of many companies. I am far from saying these costs do not exist if a company „outsources” its teams, but it is true they are usually significantly reduced, or redirected towards other, complementary aims.
What truly brings the opportunity to save some expense is the team’s workplace – the office space and its furnishing, tools such as computers and software, the back-end support from IT, Administration, and Human Resources departments.
The HR processes should be considered especially important in the case of an outsourced team, whose entire career development, motivation, satisfaction, and, obviously, budgeting lies on its direct employer – the company offering Team Leasing. The clients have the teams at their disposal simply to bring profit, without the need for recruiting, hiring, and maintaining them.
Neither the holiday season nor unexpected absence of team members are going to delay the project. The contracted team is obliged to finish its tasks in the allotted time regardless of the disposition of its members – a sick leave may not disturb what in my company is popularly called the „continuous bandwidth”.
A well-organized and experienced team will automatically fill the missing teammate’s seat, making the absence unnoticeable for the client, and if the team’s own resources prove insufficient, its direct employer will quickly provide an adequate substitution.
For outsourcing companies team leasing is the core of their business operation – this is what they sell. Therefore, the client is their most valuable asset and the client’s business is the base for their success. This is the reason why nobody would purposefully prolong deadlines, lower the quality, or offer sub-par workers – what is at stake here are reputation, partnership, and in the end, the invoice… While everybody knows the competition is waiting for even the slightest mistake just behind the corner.
Life is life and business is business. Sometimes unpopular decisions have to be made – sometimes costs need to be cut and sometimes the whole project simply ends. These situations are not easy for the company – all the affected employees must be redirected to different tasks, or even dismissed. The process of outplacement or off-boarding is always costly, whether in the strictly material or the less tangible terms. Not only does it antagonize all the affected, but also puts the employee at the risks of losing reputation among the remaining staff. People might feel less safe, experience the „survivor syndrome,” lose productivity, and even consider moving to another company. What is more, the company’s image in the eyes of potential future work candidates is a fragile structure -all the effort to build and improve it might prove to be a failed investment in the event of a group dismissal becoming common knowledge in the HR market.
These risks do not bother companies choosing to co-operate with contracted teams. If a project ends the direct employee simply delegates the team to a different project with no harm to anyone’s image, as companies offering team leasing are well prepared for such occurrences.
In conclusion, team leasing is the right solution for those companies which want to start a new project quickly, efficiently, and not waste time and resources for building and maintaining a new team. Instead, the company can focus entirely on its core activities, develop its assets, work on its innovation, and set new goals for their contracted teams, whose direct employer handles all the matters not directly related to the project
In my everyday work I have constantly experienced such division of responsibilities to bring project success to both the team leasing company and the client.