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Keys to managing a specialized workforce

Perhaps one of the most pointed issues for human resource executives is the need to plan for short-term specialized manpower, particularly when it comes to IT staffing.

General hiring and firing occur on a fairly routine basis, but short-term projects have a way of diverting HR resources in unpredictable ways, leaving many executives with a choice of disrupting normal workflows or skimping on the needs of what are typically considered to be high-priority strategic endeavors.

Short-term work

In the IT department, this can range from hiring specialized networking teams for the development of wide-area fabrics between offsite locations to bringing in programming experts for key pieces of a Dev/Test project. In each case, the challenges range from finding the right people, on-boarding them into the organization, establishing benefits and other contractual obligations, and then closing the contract at the end of its term or, if necessary, renewing it for an extended period of time.

The key to overcoming any challenge, of course, is to have a plan. When it comes to short-term specialized manpower needs, the plan is often fairly simple because the scope of the project is usually limited and the desired outcomes are clear. For instance, in the case of new or expanded network architecture, the size and various skillsets of the project team can be estimated by the number of networking points, the quantity and type of equipment needed, the desired time frame and other known factors. The plan should also account for unknown factors like potential integration issues, system failure, and software customization.

Of course, it is wise to seek out the technical information from the IT experts so that the workforce analysis can focus on things like cost control, hierarchical organization, productivity optimization and other factors.

The right partner

In these days of streamlined workforces and tight budgets, however, many organizations are finding that they lack the personnel to conduct this kind of deep-dive analytics. This is why many firms are outsourcing their HR management needs to third-party providers. Indeed, since much of the enterprise workflow is already transitioning to a more flexible, digitally-driven model, companies large and small are seeing the benefits of flexible staffing models and a bimodal workforce that combines technical know-how with key leadership skills.

Under this model, organizations gain unprecedented leeway to adjust their staffing levels and skillsets according to workload demands, much the same way they dynamically scale cloud-based IT resources to match data requirements. And when a special project arises, a full-service partner is able to provide the right people at the right time at the right cost, alleviating an expensive and time-consuming search so that the enterprise can concentrate on meeting its core business objectives.

But finding qualified candidates is only the beginning. Today’s tech-savvy business is also turning to outside help for a wide range of ongoing personnel management tasks, such as training and professional certification, scheduling, payroll and benefits/retirement planning. Some of these tasks will not apply to a specialized workforce, however, but it is important to remember that short-term projects, if successful, have a way of becoming core functions in relatively short order, so it helps to have a transitional plan at the ready in case all goes well.

In this era of tight margins and steep competition, all enterprise resources are being stretched to the limit. This means companies need to maintain a laser focus on core revenue-generating activities while leaving support functions in the hands of providers who can deliver higher quality at lower costs. And this is as true for IT personnel as it is for infrastructure.

For companies about to embark on digital transformation, then, the choice is simple: do you want to devote your resources to optimizing revenues and profits or supporting an increasingly complex technical workforce?

To learn more about OnX IT Staffing and Consulting Services, download the eBook.