Many of our clients look to hire one of our employees as an embedded resource at their facility. This work could be anything from being a part of the customer’s project team, to being an on-call resource to do whatever is required onsite, or as an engineering consultant.
Some companies are constrained by headcount limits, so they can’t directly hire another person, or there may not be enough full time work to keep a new employee busy. Or they simply don’t want to pay for benefits and the other costs associated with bringing on a new employee.
But often times, workload can get to be unmanageable and contracting out support is the answer. And to keep things easy, companies look for one person to fit the role they need. Usually it’s because they think it’s more cost effective. The assumption is that it’s cheaper to train and keep one person up to speed. And that’s not incorrect in short sight. But in the long term, it puts companies at risk of a lack of proper support.
Why? You’re betting that the resource will be around to finish the job. But what if they aren’t? These days, there are plenty of reasons for losing resources. In today’s job market, more people are moving around. If you’re using that person on a part-time basis, he may be on another job at the time you need him. This problem pertains to any critical skill that you have – if there is only one person who knows how to do it, what will you do if something happens to them? There’s no one else to step in.
We run into this dilemma when providing engineering, design and skilled trades resources for clients. We want to balance the client’s desire for one point of contact that they can train, while protecting them if something happens to that contact or they are committed to another project.
The solution is to bring in more than one resource on a project, even if you only need one resource to do the job at a time. There are a number of benefits to using multiple resources. You can potentially get the work done faster. You have more resources available to you that know your facility and are familiar with your project or process, thus providing a built in back up. You might get an even better solution when you have more than one person working together and to bounce ideas off of one another. Because each person has unique strengths, you can utilize those strengths as needs come up at your facility. And you’re not left out in the cold when one resource is unavailable when you need them, because there’s someone else who already knows you and your process.
At one of our larger clients, this works out well on the design side. We can complete projects more quickly, because we can divide up tasks. The project quality is better, because there were more people checking to verify design details. And when one of the requested resources is busy on a different project, it’s not a problem, because there’s another resource available who is already familiar with their facility and project.
Using multiple resources isn’t without risks. It requires good communication and good documentation practices, as well as a standardization methodology. Standardization of coding, for example, can save a ton of time and makes for seamless resource changes. More on that in another blog post.
When bringing on multiple resources, it is still possible, and recommended, to have one main point of contact, but the customer doesn’t run the risk of only one person being able to do the project.