Have You Exceeded Your Capabilities?
It’s every IT contractor’s dream to have too much work to handle. But what happens when the dream comes true? What happens when you’ve comfortably exceeded your capabilities and need to consider some method of expansion before your clients suffer?
The first thing you need to do is communicate your situation to your client. Keeping lines of communication open increases the likelihood your client will work with you willingly through your transition period. “There are times when your clients may actually recognize it before you do,” said MJ Shoer, president, Jenaly Technology Group. “The more proactively you communicate with your client to keep them in the loop of what’s going on with your organization, the better you are able to navigate through a situation like that. It’s pretty easy to get too big for your britches without necessarily intending to, and there are only a handful of ways to address it.”
Three ways to address your sudden organizational growth and increased workload include partnering with another organization or contractor, investing in technology or hiring capable staff. If you choose to invest in additional staff, you should tap into an existing pool of vetted talent. Shoer cautions against quick hires to fill an immediate need. Instead, you should have a pipeline of candidates available you can call on confidently.
“You don’t want to react by just hiring people,” Shoer said. “I keep a constant interview process going. I’m always looking. We don’t advertise aggressively, but we can keep an open posting on our Web site, and if someone is referred to us, I will always interview someone. I will keep an active dialogue with that person. There is no position open, but when there is or when I project that I have need, I would offer this person a job in a heartbeat. It always behooves you to have a constant pipeline going. It’s no different than working on business development, where a fundamental element is working on your own staff.”
You might decide to improve your overall efficiency by introducing some more effective processes or new technology into the office such as a performance management application to track core business transactions. Managed services are also an option that might prove profitable and helpful, fulfilling an expressed need in your business while simultaneously allowing you to offer your clients improved or additional services. “The technology investments that we’ve made allow us to do more with less,” Shoer said. “And more importantly, be more efficient with the staff that we have. Rather than if something breaks, I now have one person tied up fixing that one problem, and I can’t move that resource on to the next event until that first one is closed. By leveraging technology and efficiencies you can get better utilization out of your staff. It’s all about better responsiveness and predictability in your service level to your clients.”
And when your best bet to get the work done involves partnering with another organization, as with your next-in-line employees, it’s always good to have a peer group of other business owners or people in similar circumstances you can call on, sans competitive pressures, of course.
Shoer said it can be tough to find partners depending on your market. “Some of the more rural markets may get a little more difficult because it may just be you and your competitor servicing a market. But if you’ve got the ability to foster peer relationships, oftentimes that can be a great source of input, advice and objective opinions. They may even be willing to share some of the work load should you care to farm some out to them.”
–Kellye Whitney, firstname.lastname@example.org