There are many reasons for an organization to engage a professional services team. The following list covers some (but not all) of them.
- Internal team is short-handed and needs augmentation of resources.
- The project requires highly specialized, narrow skill set that is not available internally.
- The project although important, is not related to core-competence enough to warrant hiring full time employees.
- The project is time-critical and requires quick ramp up of resources characteristic of a services team.
Although the reasons might be as varied as the list above, the engagement falls roughly along the following categories.
- Staff Augmentation
- Specialized skills
Let’s look at the factors to consider before engaging a professional services team. For this article, we will focus on #2, bringing in professional services team for their specialized skills and task-specific experience. Having wrong team in this category can spell disaster for the project and for the manager. The following five factors are important for this type of engagement.
Does the Team have task-relevant experience?
This should obviously be the first consideration. The experience does not have to be the exact duplicate of the target project. The experience can have some variance so far as the core competence of the team addresses the core requirements of the project. In some cases, task-specificity can be judiciously sacrificed for breadth of experience in the space if you think that it will result in innovative, out-of-box approach.
Is the skill set of the team current with the latest innovations?
Even if the team has long experience in the space, if the team has not kept the skill set updated with the innovations in the industry, you are likely to get a repeat of the old solutions. A great team is the one that is connected to the past and knowledgeable about the current and has good judgement about the future.
Is the project lead of the services team easy to communicate with?
This factor, although not a technical one, is none the less a crucial one to pay attention to. For the best outcome for the project, you want your team and the services team to be on the same page as much as possible. If the personal chemistry between the project leads does not work, the project will be in jeopardy. Ensure this factor before the project begins.
Employment stability of the firm
If the firm has a high degree of churn, it will adversely affect your project. This data might be hard to find but talk to previous clients to get some sense of it.
Financial stability of the firm
Needless to say but financial instability can cause a lot of ills at the firm that might end up affecting the project. Again, this is hard to find out but previous clients and plain old grapevine might provide some insight.
In summary, bringing in an outside team can significantly improve the delivery of the project if you minimize the risks by paying attention to the factors discussed above.