Cost-Effective Staffing on IT Projects

The economic downturn is forcing numerous companies to cut costs, and as a result, many are looking to streamline their investments in IT. For this reason, staffing services provider Veritude recently published a report titled “Staffing An IT Project? Five Steps for Savvy Sourcing and Recruiting” that outlines a few key steps to create and build an IT team cost-effectively.

“It’s fair to conclude and assume that if an industry is getting hit hard, expense reductions in IT are clearly taking place as they are in other parts of the company,” said Tom Hart, executive vice president of client management, talent acquisition, operations and technology at Veritude.

IT spending typically is divided into two categories: tactical and strategic. “Tactical spending” refers to the basic operational costs of running the company: “keeping the heat on, the lights on and the place running,” according to Hart. Employers rarely alter or skimp on tactical spending, he said.

By default, that means the strategic spending is at risk during this period of recession.

 “The first thing [organizations] do is heavily scrutinize large projects [because] typically large projects are very strategic, forward-thinking, major deals for a company,” Hart said. “When there’s a lot of pressure, you’ll actually see companies spending money with third parties to evaluate strategic needs.

“[They] are bringing in management consultants and technical consultants and saying, ‘Take a look at this. We’re getting ready to spend $50 million here; what do you think? Do you think there are other options? Do you think we can wait a year and a half? Will it competitively disadvantage us?’”

Still, companies need to continue to make investments in IT to remain competitive. “While you [may not] feel the pain in a 12- to 18-month period, if you drag your feet on spending for two to three years, you will clearly find yourself falling behind in a market you competed in from a technology standpoint — no question about it,” Hart said.

According to the Veritude report, companies can maximize strategic spending by taking into account the following points when staffing an IT project:

  • Don’t overlook in-house talent. When you’ve spent years building a quality IT team, it would be far cheaper to invest money in retaining the existing team than to pay a third party to replace that talent. Think training and development, bonus payments, etc.
  • Create a rate card to analyze and compare costs. A rate card is effective when you work with a number of third parties that charge different prices for different staffers, Hart said. In such instances, you can leverage this information to get a fair price.
  • Think outside the box. Consider alternative solutions such as the use of virtual offices.
  • Be budget conscious and set realistic expectations. Once the budget is set, you must be realistic in its objectives and outline timelines, deliverables and expectations.
  • Recognize when you can’t go it alone. “[This means] recognizing that you need a third party, asking them for help and using them to get work done [while simultaneously] taking advantage of what they know to help you to train and develop your own people,” Hart said.


– Deanna Hartley, dhartley@certmag.com

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