Friday, August 24, 2007

The Value Of An Employee

Some recent project activity I've been involved with has reminded me of the all too commonly occurring scenario that plays out in corporate offices up and down the land each day; the relegation of the employee to support while the contractors populate the projects. (Disclaimer : I've been a contract resource, an employee, a project manager, and team manager so I've covered pretty much all the bases...)

Now, it never ceases to amaze me that organisations persist in driving project delivery with their contract staff in preference to their corporate staff. The usual argument is to better manage resources and budget for asset development enabling easy capitalisation of time, depreciation of asset cost, and flexible staffing levels with project load, but consider this.

  • How will your employees feel if they're forever stuck on support and bug fixing while the glory of new project delivery (and the happy celebrations on project completion) are forever the domain of your contractors?
  • How will you stop your people believing that your employees are second rate staff to the contractors you bring on for the big projects?
  • How do you successfully manage operation of the project deliverables when the operational staff were not involved in the project development?
  • How do you continue long term development and idea innovation on a system produced by one team and operated by another?
  • And just how many projects actually really do successfully deliver generating the actual value originally envisaged in the business cases? Wouldn't it be better to manage the cost up front knowing you can capitalise after the fact?

If you're building a valuable asset then you should be building a commensurately valuable human structure to continue development over time, not just hand over and dash off to the next engagement.

It's a naive view that sees a complex system developed, deployed and left alone. Again, anything valuable at a point in time needs to change to remain valuable in response to a changing environment. It's simply ridiculous to imagine a complex system can be simply bounded by the original project definition.

Relegating employees to operational activity because of concerns over managing budget is a strategic error for any company.

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