The market has come a long way from the days when businesses could get by with just a dedicated IT generalist or network administrator. Advances in enterprise technology upped the ante. Regardless of size or industry vertical, companies in the current market thrive by hiring diverse IT professionals with a command of complex IT tools and services.
However, few organizations have inexhaustible IT budgets to recruit direct hires in every must-have technical role. To avoid performance gaps, more companies are hiring IT consultants for certain skillsets – especially when temporary talent delivers the same outcome as full time personnel. In fact, four pursuits in particular benefit from working with contract IT workers.
1.) Cloud Implementation
Traditional enterprise software and services are being replaced by cloud alternatives. Cloud service costs reflect precise usage and system updates happen in a fluid way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of business. Widespread adoption is at the point where U.S. organizations are budgeting $1.77 million for cloud spending in 2017. The percentage of the budget allocated to direct hire versus IT contractors depends on a company’s long-term vision and environment:
- Are cloud services low maintenance after the initial migration? Moving databases, servers, or other hardware to the cloud might require a cloud specialist during the migration, but not after. Some vendors provide their own cloud support as part of the package, limiting the extent of the budget needed to employ specific talent.
- What combination of cloud solutions are you using? Each business is going to benefit from a different set of cloud services. Some might choose to stick with a single all-encompassing vendor, while others go with a hybrid cloud model. If the complexity of services requires hands-on attention to achieve their full potential, hiring permanent cloud specialists is the right choice. Otherwise, temporary consultants are a more cost-effective choice.
2.) App Development
Who doesn’t have their own web or mobile application these days? Customer facing and internal applications demand new levels of functionality and usability to deliver competitive performance. The quality of developer that an organization hires is always going to dictate the application ROI and shelf life. Yet not every project is going to merit a dedicated developer on staff and companies need to reflect on certain queries:
- Does your IT roadmap call for multiple development projects? This is one reason that having a strong IT roadmap is crucial. Businesses that know their long-term strategies and can predict their future budgets are able to determine whether application development should be delivered by permanent staff or IT consultants.
- How often will applications need updating? Customer facing applications will always have a shorter shelf life than internal applications because of exponentially evolving trends. Even if your application is not your core service or product, frequent updates might be mandatory. For example, healthcare payer or telecom customer portals require dedicated staff to evolve with competition. On the other hand, many B2B organizations get updates every few years from an IT consultant.
3.) Data Analysis
The ability to leverage structured and unstructured data is making businesses more responsive than ever. Big data analysis is improving the way organizations observe trends, overcome obstacles, and implement strategies to ride the waves of change. Companies see that value and IBM predicts the demand for data scientists and data engineers will grow by 39%.
Though a variety of self-service analytical platforms have emerged in recent years, trained analytical professionals deliver governable data and best-in-class results by asking the right questions. That being said, not every project needs a permanent data specialist.
The answers to certain questions determine whether hiring IT consultants or permanent staff is ideal:
- How often will you use predictive models over manual analysis? Infrequent use of big data makes a full time data scientist a steep expense. Given a clear scope, data scientist contractors can perform analysis and visualize data in a cost-effective way as it becomes convenient.
- Which departments want big data? If only a single department voices an interest in big data needs, the justification for a full time analyst is low. Additionally, the work of a contract data scientist can be treated as a use case to determine the value of predictive analysis to your business, helping to rationalize recruiting a direct hire in the future.
- Is your business data-driven yet? Some organizations are in a perpetual state of discovery and evaluation. Those that view data as a cornerstone of their decision-making benefit from a dedicated data specialist. Those still getting to understand the potential of their data should hire IT consultants until the proof of value is established.
4.) Legacy Tech SMEs
For companies running on legacy systems, there is a timer ticking down to when that technology is more hindrance than help. Familiarity with these platforms encourages businesses to avoid change until it becomes burdensome. And when the time to transition finally comes, hiring an IT consultant is almost always the best option.
This choice is far more straightforward than the rest. Legacy skillsets are harder to find and direct hires force companies to lock themselves in with talent who might not be a good long-term fit. Temporary IT consultants allow businesses to complete the transition and then hire a more permanent IT specialist better aligned with the updated IT systems.
Hiring IT Consultants in a Candidate-Driven Market
The current market makes it particularly compelling to hire IT consultants. Candidates that recognize the demand for their technical skills are less likely to stay anchored to a single job. The willingness of companies to pay for in-demand skills allows IT professionals the freedom to explore contract IT positions, knowing that plenty of opportunities exist. It’s that shift that empowers companies to fill the gap in their IT – if they know where to find the best tech talent on the market.