Resourcing is a perpetual challenge organizations face in driving transformation. Sooner or later, every transformation leader will find him or herself in the position of needing specific talent or resources other than those which are normally under their control. When this happens, they must look elsewhere for those resources. Not every organization allows its leaders choice in how they go about filling their talent needs.
The Challenges of Getting Work Done
There are variations, but the three primary options for acquiring needed resources include purchasing or hiring directly, contracting an outside person or organization to do the work, or going to another department within the company for help.
Before exploring why having all three resourcing choices is important, let’s first take a look at the challenges which can present themselves in each of these scenarios.
- Hiring: Getting headcount approved is rarely easy in companies. Sometimes it’s not even an option. Even where hiring freezes are not in effect, the approval process can sometimes get so complex or take so long that it effectively takes the option off the table. When a leader says, “I could have hired someone but couldn’t get the headcount approved,” that represents a loss of one of the primary resourcing choices.
- Outsourcing: In a similar vein, when a leader wants to contract with someone outside the company there is usually an approval process involved. This is as it should be, and in some organizations this decision process is relatively fast and easy. In others, it can take a long time and/or require jumping through a lot of hoops. Here again, the process can create practical barriers to choice.
- Internal resourcing: The final option is to rely on another group or department within the organization—an organization transformation COE, for example—to provide needed expertise. While leveraging internal experts or resources to drive organization change is beneficial, it doesn’t always fill strategic resourcing needs perfectly. If the first two options are not available or too difficult to pursue, this becomes the only option.
Pros and Cons of Internal Resourcing
Internal resourcing has definite advantages. It can be very cost effective, especially where there are many people or groups in the organization who require similar work and can rely on the same resource or department to provide it. It can also bypass the time and complexities of having to go through the talent search and hiring or the approval process for contracting externally.
On the other hand, when an internal resource becomes in effect the only option, it puts business leaders at the mercy of whatever it can deliver. It may offer fantastic service, in which case the business benefits and a leader may be happy to trade choice for convenience. However, service can be compromised for any of a number of reasons: the internal resource may be under-resourced or slow to deliver, they may not be as skilled or qualified as a potential new hire or contractor, they may have other priorities, they may not have the latest tools or technologies, and so on.
How Choice Impacts Organization Transformation Results
By taking resourcing options off the table, business leaders are forced to settle—which, especially in an organization transformation situation, can have significant and lasting consequences to the organization. This is why organizations, even ones who want to be fiscally sound, should always keep all three options on the table for discussion.
For example, even if the company is in a hiring freeze, if the success of the organization transformation is strategic to the business and internal solutions for whatever reason don’t appear to be adequate, a business leader should still feel that they can bring the need forward and make a case for why it might make sense to consider hiring someone. By the same token, companies should always be willing to consider contracting for a piece of work when specialized expertise or a quick, turn-key solution is needed.
Keeping all resourcing options on the table breaks the monopoly on the transformation work and compels internal groups to maintain high levels of service and quality. It forces them to be relevant, responsive, and market focused. This is not to imply that the internal resource must be world class. It’s perfectly acceptable for them to say, “we’re never going to be world class at this, we’re just going to be average, and if you need world class you should go contract or hire somebody.” However, being one choice out of three forces them to at least acknowledge the role they’re set up to play rather than saying, “you can’t hire or contract with anyone so I guess you’re stuck with us and we’ll get to you when we can.”
Keeping It All on the Table
Ultimately, when options remain open it creates a dialog that will likely lead to the best solution for meeting the organization’s transformation goals and objectives. With all options on the table, business leaders have the flexibility to consider all options rather than being forced to choose options that might deliver sub-optimal results.