Project work is known for the ebb and flow of workload. As project leaders, you can be busy at the start of a new initiative, and have work feel more under control during the delivery phases of a project. And then… your company wins another big contract that requires earned value management, or you finally get the go ahead to implement the PMO tools your team has been longing for.
What should you do?
One option is to increase the workload of existing staff, but that is unsustainable. You can’t shift priorities either – the projects that were top priority yesterday are still important and must be finished. And saying no to the new work isn’t an option either.
The best course of action is to grow your existing team and bring more hands into the department to help with the growing workload. Let’s look at how you can do that quickly and with the minimal disruption to your work and existing staff members.
Why might you need more staff?
There are lots of reasons why your business might need to augment current staffing levels. For example:
- You’ve had approval to move ahead with implementing a Project Management Office and need skilled staff to consult on the creation and set up of that function.
- You have a new project starting and need certified schedulers, earned value systems support or other staff to help get the work moving quickly.
- An existing project is accelerating and you know that more hands will help get the work done faster.
- You’ve lost a number of skilled staff in a short period of time – perhaps due to illness, redundancy, other absence or internal staff moves – and upskilling junior staff to fill the gap will take too long.
- Your recruitment team is unable to support a lengthy hiring process, or hiring managers don’t have the bandwidth to take on recruitment tasks followed by induction and training.
Sometimes the gap will be one skilled member of the team – someone with a specific set of technical or business skills, or the experience of implementing something similar elsewhere. Other times, you might be looking at bringing in a larger number of people as consultants or short-term support, embedded in your permanent team.
Hiring a new permanent member of staff can take a long time. It can take months to go from job specification to completion of the contract and pre-employment checks, plus the new hire will have to work their notice period at their current job. It can also take a while to find someone who has relevant expertise for the niche role you are recruiting for: experts with Deltek’s Cobra, wInsight and Acumen product knowledge aren’t exactly sitting around waiting for your call.
In our experience, many senior management teams don’t want to have to wait that long before they can move forward with implementing new PMO software like Primavera P6 or setting up a PMO. Plus, they might not approve the hire of a permanent member of staff, knowing that the current situation is temporary. It may not be appropriate to hire a permanent employee when the workload is predicted to go down again in a few months.
How to source extra staff
Once you’ve identified the need for extra staff, approach specialist consultancies and agencies with a detailed brief of what skills you are looking for.
For example, we have expert consultants who can hit the ground running and fill Deltek staff positions, as well as qualified Primavera P6 application and technical consultants.
A good thing to look for is consultants who have carried out that role in other companies, and can prove they’ve made a positive difference to other teams. Ask for references. Talk about how they have augmented teams in other businesses.
Make sure they’ve got the skills
The most important thing to look for when hiring staff to fill a short-term need is that they have the skills required to hit the ground running and add value from day one.
Their past experience is a good measuring stick for the value they can add to your business. People who have had real-life, first-hand exposure to the kind of challenges you are facing can bring solutions – and they know their solutions work because they have been tested elsewhere.
Expert consultants who move between businesses also are confident and comfortable fitting into the team. Whether you need a Deltek Cobra administrator to work under your own team’s direction, or a Primavera technical consultant to lead on the software set up, skilled resources should be able to slot into your organization seamlessly.
Provide a good onboarding experience
When you hire experienced consultants to augment your team, they won’t need a lengthy onboarding process. However, as with any new hire into your business, they will need access to the systems and tools you want them to use.
Make sure they have software logins so they can start work straightaway. Our consultants are confident in new settings and won’t hesitate to introduce themselves, but it always helps to be given an overview of the company’s organization structure.
If many of your team are working from home, you may expect the new hire to do the same. Make sure they are set up with access to the relevant collaboration tools. If you have a staff contact directly, that’s a useful asset to share with a new starter.
Finally, don’t forget to tell your current team that your new hires are joining! In our experience, existing teams are grateful for the extra help and keen to work together to make the project a success.
Augmenting your existing team with experts on a contract basis saves you time and money, and improves project delivery. The added advantage is that consultants embedded within your team will provide a detailed knowledge transfer so when their engagement ends, you can continue to run at the same high levels as your own staff will have been upskilled in the process.