EMPLOYEE OR CONTRACTOR: What’s Right for Your ERP or CRM Consulting Practice?
Over the past 2 decades, DyNexus Recruiting has recruited, placed and hired hundreds of ERP and CRM (IT) consultants for VARs, ISVs and ERP & CRM end-user companies. Our practice has been mostly filling permanent positions, but we have recruited contract positions for our clients, as well as hired contractors to work directly for us. As such, we have a pretty good perspective on when it makes sense to hire a permanent employee, and when it makes sense to hire a contractor.
Here are three critical factors to consider when evaluating when to hire a permanent employee, and when to hire a contractor for your ERP or CRM Reseller practice:
FACTOR #1: SINGLE-PURPOSE OR ONGOING FUNCTION.
The need for increasing staff happens for one of two reasons: either (1) a specific implementation project or task needs help, or (2) the general workload has grown beyond the capabilities of your current staffing level. This would seem to be an easy distinction to make, but not always. For example, your temporary contractor comes in and knocks out the project or task at hand, but upon completion of said project/task, it becomes apparent that more on-going expertise is needed than you had originally expected. The sooner you can assess the true scope of work, the better off your practice will be.
FACTOR #2: DEPTH VS BREADTH OF EXPERTISE.
There are times, especially at the critical beginning stages of ERP and CRM implementations, when an extraordinarily deep skill set and experience makes a long-term and more inclusive difference in the final results, and in the benefits accrued. More often than not, a full-time employee brings this kind of depth whereas contractors often bring to the table a broader set of experiences working in different environments, and a greater exposure to “exceptions” and “unexpected consequences”. The broad (contractor) skill set and experience often helps to identify and prevent the kind of pitfalls and potholes that can render our greatest expectations a bucket of worms. I can’t stress too strongly how important this can be in the altogether effectiveness of the technology being implemented.
FACTOR #3: TIME-CRITICALITY.
Hiring a permanent employee takes more time than hiring a contractor. It’s like the difference between marriage and dating. Furthermore, economics will often dictate that you won’t be able to afford to hire the “perfect” employee who has every skill and experience you would like. So, it takes time to find the balance between “perfect” and “suitable.” If your manpower need is seriously time-critical it may well make sense to bring on a “perfect” contractor while you conduct a search for your permanent employee. A caveat here: Hiring under extreme time constraints is a very risky business. (For more on this, see this excellent article on the pitfalls of rapid hiring on the Amex Open Forum)
FACTOR #4: INSIDER OR OUTSIDER (POLITICAL NEUTRALITY).
This is a factor that raises its head less frequently, but when it does, it’s very important, and needs to be paid attention to. This happens when there are warring factions, different important stakeholders who can’t agree on any number of operational considerations, and get into crippling political turf wars. If this happens, it’s a recipe for sure failure. To avoid this it can be very helpful to bring on an outsider who has no political skin in the game, and who can act as an outside authority in resolving these differences. Note, this takes a very special contractor, with both technical and political skills, and probably will cost top of the range, but will be well worth every dollar,
Most of the time these factors aren’t as clear cut and black and white as the above would suggest, and it takes judgement to make the right decision. But then again . . .
IF IT WAS EASY, CHILDREN WOULD BE DOING IT.