Tom Peruzzi's thoughts on digital, innovation, IT and operations

On Demand FTEs

Posted in general failures, organizational, startup failures by opstakes on May 12, 2010

You definitely know that story: You came in on a smooth Monday morning and the first you hear is a lack of resources. But why? How could it happen that you are running out of resources over weekend? Private accidents? One of your technicians felt in love with a girl and will not come back? Or is it just the simple fact that project Nr 30 has kicked off? (and indeed 10 of them are prio 1 :-))

So how do you want to plan scenarios like that? Whenever you build a new resource (or hire, maybe the better word) you should keep in mind to build resources internally you will need on a long term approach. So ask the following:

  1. Is the resource for day2day operations?
  2. Is the FTE still needed after successful close of project X and deprovisioning of current platform?
  3. How do you secure to take over knowledge after the external FTE has gone?
  4. Is it easier/faster to get that special skill/knowhow via a service or do we really talk about FTE?
  5. Is it in or out of budget and how to handle?
  6. How fast will you get that person, is it within demand time?
  7. Can you upgrade internally?

I want to point out one aspect, the knowledge transfer: Whenever you get in an external, you should be able to manage him more or less the same way you manage your employees. An external is as good as he gets direction, empathy and loyalty, even if you need him/her for a longer time.

Second point: Keep in mind that the external will leave the company after day X. So prepare your organization to take over the knowhow, transfer the experience within appropriate time. Otherwise you will not be able to successfully deprovision the external party. Lack of expertise, lack of knowhow after the external has left will directly fall back to you as the internally responsible person.

I tend to say put a minimum 50 % of all your externals within the existing tasks and support your internal FTEs to bring themselve upfront onto the new technology. After the switch only 50% of your current stuff has to be “upgraded”. This can be done by your already transformed employees so operations and the new fancy stuff is well organized and understood by your employees.

I know that it is quite hard to bring in externals under pressure and on the one hand side bring them upfront on the old – to be replaced – services and on the other hand use the same employees which train/support the externals to bring a new project up and running.  The more the less you will reach the goal. Maybe not the first time, maybe even not the second or third time, but your employees will learn to live with permanent transformation and if they understand the message the next project will survive and knowhow transfer as a core rule for bringing in “on demand FTEs” will be accepted.

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