When it comes to securing external IT talent, there are always options to consider and it can be difficult to find the right option to suit your business and the project you are covering. In this article, we will explore the biggest myths in securing IT talent and hopefully, find the right solution for your business. To do this, we will consider a scenario that a tender has been issued by your organisation, and you need to get a group of IT professionals to tackle the project.
Categories of talent
In such a scenario, you are likely to receive bids from three main types of bidders:
- The big consultancies with high permanent staff and the best glass faced buildings in London.
- The niche consultancies with a similar model more regionally based, but more grounded costs.
- The recruitment consultancies and other intermediaries packaging contractors, with probably the lowest costs.
With the principles of “No one was ever fired to hire IBM” at the forefront of your mind and the perception that great quality and high prices go together, you are tempted to consider the first option; the big consultancy. If your budget is stretched, you may look at the second option, but the third option looks like a last resort. The individual IT contractors may not work well together, causing your business a major headache. Yes, option one is the one to go for, or is it?
The Winning Strategy? Think Again!
Although option one seems like the most attractive option and the most likely to ensure you get the best talent, it is worth exploring this in more detail, before you go ahead and blow your budget. Have you ever walked into a large consultancy, with the impressive buildings and the best of furniture and thought about how successful this consultancy may be? You are paying for that. The fee you pay to a consultancy not only covers the remuneration for the employee, but also for the buildings, the partner commissions, overhead teams – including proposals, marketing and HR. Therefore, high prices you pay as a client do not automatically translate into access to highest paid talent. Having said that, strong consulting brands can attract good talent, the point being this isn’t a given just because the consultancy charges you a premium day rate.
You would be forgiven for assuming that big consultancies have a proven, repeatable methodology that can be used to suit your own circumstances. However, methodologies are for consultancies, what additives are for fuel companies: they may be described differently, but they are surprisingly similar. Complex client programmes are often not able to use the methodologies proposed by a consultancy as is – the context is often too nuanced for a pre-built framework to apply. What is in fact beneficial is experience of having worked on other client projects undertaking similar activities, and making sure lessons learnt from that experience are put into practice.
Surely if you use a top consultancy instead of an intermediary, you will get the very best talent? Not necessarily. The best consultants within those consultancies are usually booked up for months in advance, the same as good builders – often retained by a client. Most consultancies won’t want to disturb existing client arrangements just to be able to give you an ‘A’ team. Not every consultant within a consultancy is a star consultant, and you will have to accept the reality that a consultancy is likely to pair you up with consultants from an available pool. On the contrary, if you choose Option 3, you are recruiting from the available pool of all contractors with that skill in the country. At the right day rate, the odds of getting the right individuals is very high.
When you hire a team of IT professionals, you understandably want to ensure that they work well together. It might seem that using a big consultancy would guarantee this, presumably because there would naturally be some level of camaraderie between employees of the same organisation. However, that’s not necessarily the case. Consultants work with different teams in different projects, so you are not buying a fully formed team. A well-formed team must be cultivated, the same as if you were buying a group of strangers. Therefore, the option 3 is not too far off that Option1. By way of example, we recently put together a group of trainers for our public sector client on the lines of Option 3. The recruitment was carried out over multiple campaigns. In the end, we ended up having a group of 4 trainers who had all previously worked with each other.
What we think
At Mindful Contract, we are an intermediary and delivering option 3 is our forte. We believe it also offers the best value and transparency for your organisation. We search the whole of the UK contractor market to find out the best fit talent for your assignment. So, you truly get the best team without some corporate entity artificially choosing to lower disturbance and inconvenience to other clients. While option 3 is lowest cost option, we genuinely believe that it is also the most worthwhile. Higher costs do not always mean you are getting the best value for your money.