Resourcing for Initiatives
Now that you have received funding approval for your multi-year, cross-department corporate initiative, the clock is ticking. Large transformation projects typically involve data migration, systems changes, additional hands-on-deck and new skill sets. Business areas tend to lead these projects, and depending on your IT support, the business area may also own the selection and management of technical resources. We offer some thoughts gained from working with clients through their pain points. You can do a great deal to help yourself, in the planning stages. We will address the scenario where you are contracting with vendors for the extra resources, not a fully outsourced project, though many of these points apply to both.
Your initiative likely received funding after a well-vetted planning cycle, followed by down time while the plan was approved. During this time, and before, hopefully you reached-out to your favorite vendors to educate them on your needs and to seek their advice. This is a critical factor to ensure that the right resources are ready when you need them, which is probably yesterday. Enlist your procurement department to support your need for careful vendor selection and sufficient lead time. Vendors do not have a bench of resources waiting to work for you. And, you want a marketplace selection to occur, to ensure the right fit. It takes weeks to screen and interview people, then they need to give notice and get on-boarded to your company- so plan on 6-8 weeks from “go” to arrival.
The best vendors will welcome the chance to start on the resource pool and send you some candidates before the green light date. After you get a few team interviews under your belt, often the requirements you initially thought you needed are not what you find you need. The skill mix may not be readily available in one person, so you have a weak candidate field; the team may have overlooked some requirements; or the candidates themselves provide insights you hadn’t considered. So, get a jump on interviewing even before the green light, just to work out those kinks. And it goes without saying, choose a vendor who has already come up to speed on your business, the culture and your initiative, is experienced with the labor market you require and whose business model is to support you through the long haul. Take care to find the right balance of cost and quality, and seek trusted vendors’ pricing advice while planning. Going too skinny on the budget for resources can negatively impact the cost and quality of project deliverables.
Another pre-green-light tip to help yourself, is to prepare your organization for the extent of change coming and proactively manage expectations. Prepare for discovery adjustments at the project team level, to the work itself, with stakeholders and key contributors and with managers and the initiative sponsors. If you’ve already gone Agile, the groundwork is laid for some iterating. You may find yourself managing a large consultant workforce within a matrixed organization. Determine which full-time staff are best to dedicate to the initiative, and plan to backfill their business as usual responsibilities with outsourced resources. In addition to the “aha” moments informed by interviewing people with expertise you do not have, milestones may need adjusting due to factors outside of your control, such as the timing of data becoming available, or obtaining access to a critical new database. Develop contingency plans for what the in-place teams can do in the meantime to minimize idle resources. Seek out terrific project managers and business analysts familiar with mature development protocols.
Here’s to the success of your initiative!