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IT Resources: Complexity of finding the right people September 16, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business Solutions, Resourcing.
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This is a very difficult topic.  There are so many different ways that companies go about finding the “right” person.  I have been at places where they have a specific salary or hourly range and anyone who may fit within that realm is the best fit.  Also, I have seen people who will base it on years of experience.  Some will simply get in all of the offers and pick the cheapest one.

I personally don’t think that any of the options that I stated above are good ways to choose.  I think that you should base the decision on ability.  How do you figure that out?  It is not easy. 

  1. Look for references (preferrably from previous clients that were happy)
  2. Look for experience in providing solutions NOT just developing software
  3. Look for people who have leadership and management skillsets (this will provide them the ability to work a project with more than one person to completion

 

Cheapest Resource

The easiest way to look at this is the old cliche: “You get what you pay for”.  Most of the time you will be picking up an inexperienced person or someone who really hasn’t done it before.  Also, you will usually be working with someone who is going to work on it when they have free time.  I have seen this option employed by people who turned into my clients after this experience.  Usually, the person low-balled the offer and then failed to deliver on the timeframe or budget.  This is a technique that many people will use to try to land projects.  This is not to say that it will never work but I would be EXTREMELY leery of this option.  After all, ask yourself this question: “If the person is really good at the job, why are they below market rates?”.  Some may have legitimate reasons but most won’t.

In many cases the cheapest resource actually costs you more.  Let’s say the cheapest resource you deal with is charging 35/hour and a higher level developer is charging 100/hour.  Seems like a no-brainer.  Be careful.  With a junior or intermediate level developer the project can take 4, 5, or 6 times as long because they are not prepared.  Now look at this:

If it takes the cheapest resource 40 hours at 35/hour the project cost $1400.  If the experienced contractor charging 100/hour can get it done in 10 hours your cost was only $1000.  This obviously can make a difference to overall cost.  So, simply be careful to look for lowest COST not lowest PRICE.

Fits the salary

This really can fit into the same scenario as Cheapest Resource.  You really should be looking to find someone who can fulfill your requirements for the project solution.  In many cases the decision is purely a money decision.  When this happens many times the projects are a disappointment.  This is due to the fact that the project is driven to cut corners.  I would recommend that you do an analysis to find out costs and then decide whether to proceed or not instead of setting a cost ceiling and then cutting corners.

Experience

While experience is important, in the IT industry it is not a great indicator of ability.  Just because you have been around for 10, 20, or even 30 years does not mean that you have the ability to run a project from start to finish.  In most cases, technology is shifting at least once every 2-3 years (getting faster each year).  This means that someone with 10 years of experience probably really has 3 years of experience 3 times.  What I mean by this is that they have shifted technologies and relearned it.  So they have used 3 technologies each for 3 years.  This is the nature of the market.

Now, I don’t want to belittle experience either.  It is very important.  You can learn a lot about the industry, business, and general architecture tasks through experience (no other way).  All I am saying is that 10, 20, or 30 years doesn’t automatically make you the best resource.

Ability

This is by far the best measure of the resource.  It is also the most difficult.  I would highly recommend looking for references.  Someone who has provided quality services before will have references.  Make sure to look at services like LinkedIn where they can request references.  I would recommend looking for experience providing the types of services you are looking for.   Try to find network connections that can refer people.  It is absolutely true that referrals are the best way to find this out about a person.

Final Thoughts

In today’s market, it can be very tough to find the right resource to get your solution created.  Be careful of viewing the IT resource market as a commodity market.  Not all developers are equal.  Try to find contacts that you can trust have the ability.  I have seen too many projects fail because they didn’t have the right resource it place.  Try to find someone you trust that can help and advise you. 

If you need any help please feel free to contact me.  I would be more than willing to provide guidance and assistance.

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