ADM Staffing and Skills Challenges Require A Team Effort


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This ISG white paper explores the dynamics that can keep clients and service providers from optimizing staffing opportunities in ADM outsourcing contracts, and outlines remediation strategies to ensure an effective transition and healthy long-term relationship.

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ADM Staffing and Skills Challenges Require A Team Effort

  1. 1. ADM STAFFING AND SKILLS CHALLENGESREQUIRE A TEAM EFFORTClients and Service Providers Must Share ResponsibilityBy Doug Bunch, Director,
  2. 2. INTRODUCTIONLarge companies must maximize the value of their applications environmentto compete in today’s business environment. Because applicationdevelopment and maintenance (ADM) is so intricately tied to bottom lineresults, many organizations seek specialized service providers to ensure best-in-class capabilities.However, transitioning to an ADM outsourcing contract can be challenging, asit requires the staffing and onboarding of a significant set of new skills under atight time frame. Critical to the healthy start of an ADM outsourcedrelationship, successful staffing remains important long after the end oftransition. Constructive second- and third-generation ADM outsourcingefforts often depend on timely and effective staffing as well.This ISG white paper explores the dynamics that can keep clients and serviceproviders from optimizing staffing opportunities in ADM outsourcingcontracts, and outlines remediation strategies to ensure an effectivetransition and healthy long-term relationship.ADM STAFFING AND SKILLS CHALLENGES REQUIRE A TEAM EFFORT ■ DOUG BUNCH aaa
  3. 3. COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS MANAGE STAFFING LIKE A PROJECTClients often complain about the service provider’s Fulfilling staffing requirements in a timely manner isinability to staff and provide suitable skills in a timely critical to getting an ADM project underway and ismanner. When a client approaches the service provider equally important when providing consistent ADMwith ways to address these issues, the client often hears support and maintenance. The service provider has theabout their own lack of resource planning. Plenty of primary responsibility to provide staff with the right mixblame can undoubtedly go around, and the issues cited of skills by the due date required. The client isby both clients and service providers are often key responsible for staffing certain roles, such as businesscontributors to poor delivery of services, which analysts, especially for ADM enhancement ornegatively affects both parties. development projects. To do this well, both parties must have a common understanding of the full skill setsClient complaints often include: needed, an understanding of the risks associated with  The service provider does not provide skilled not fulfilling the needs in the required time frame, resources in the time required mitigation plans to address the risks, and a shared  The service provider does not provide timely approach to effectively completing the staffing. information about unfilled resource requirements For significant staffing requirements, a project  The client’s team does not understand how to management approach can provide the necessary navigate the service provider organization to discipline to facilitate successful staffing. The skills, the escalate staffing issues number of resources, and the time frame in which they  The service provider resources don’t understand are required can be treated like project deliverables. the environment, solution or service level Consistent and frequent communications and status agreements (SLAs) when they come on board updates, as in a well-run project, will make both parties  The service provider moves resources off of the fully aware of the staffing progress. A risk assessment contract with little advance warning helps both parties understand the risk and identifyService provider complaints include: mitigation actions to avoid the risks. An issue management process can address problems by defining  The client cannot predict or forecast their specific actions, assignments and due dates, and tracking resource needs until the issue is closed. When deliverables are in  The client provides little to no notification when jeopardy, a pre-defined escalation process can ensure resources are needed both parties are aware and that staffing needs are  The client is not providing adequate skilled receiving the correct level of attention from both the resources to fulfill its roles (e.g., project roles) service provider and client management.  The client wants resources to stay “indefinitely” and does not support the rotation of service provider skills necessary for career growth PREDICTING FUTURE RESOURCING PLANS Too often clients work in a reactionary mode whenProblems underlying these complaints affect the abilitiesof both parties to fulfill their respective staffing requesting staff from a service provider. The clientresponsibilities in a timely manner, to predict and business organizations come to IT with an urgent need,communicate their future resourcing plans, and to and the client IT organization turns to the serviceonboard the staff once they are identified and assigned provider with a resource request that has very little leadto the contract. A variety of approaches and time to secure the right skills. While service providers canopportunities that encourage the parties to work carry some resources “on the bench,” the bench can’ttogether can address these problems. always meet the needs when the majority of requests require an urgent response. Forecasting ADM staffing needs into the future allows the service provider the necessary lead time to plan for the required skill sets and number of resources to provide staffing when needed. With a demand management process, the client and the service provider can work together to put plans in place to recruit and acquire the staff with the right skills.ADM STAFFING AND SKILLS CHALLENGES REQUIRE A TEAM EFFORT ■ DOUG BUNCH aaa
  4. 4. ADM outsourcing contracts often last at least five years In an ADM project, each team member needs to have aand can be longer with renewals. The same ADM staff sound understanding of the solution. Too often, teamthat started the contract will likely not be performing the members receive a project overview and informationservices for the entire term. Clients often have a difficult about their particular piece of the project, which doestime letting a skilled ADM resource move on to another not allow them a full understanding of the entireassignment after he or she has proven to perform well. solution. Typical orientation topics should includeThe natural fear is that the next person may not be as information about the client, the business functions, thecapable, that it will take time to get this new person “up objective of the project, and the technical aspects of theto speed” in providing the same level of support, and project or maintenance efforts. Well-informed teamthat, ultimately, the ADM service will suffer. The reality is members make better decisions for the project whenthat – as does the client – the service provider must performing their project roles.create career growth opportunities for its employees orrisk losing them to competitors. Resisting service Service level agreements (SLAs) are commonly includedprovider rotation could actually backfire if a skilled ADM in training materials, but usually at such a high level thatperson leaves the service provider and provides only a team members don’t get a full appreciation of how theirtwo-week notice. To minimize this risk, both parties must individual actions can impact them. In these cases, SLAswork together to develop and deploy a rotation plan that can become an abstract delivery goal that is notmeets the needs of the client and the service provider. internalized by the team members. Each ADM teamThe rotation plan should include some form of member should have individualized delivery targets thatsuccession planning to guarantee that potential skilled are directly tied to the SLAs, making it clear how theirresources are prepared when the time arrives. individual day-to-day performance affects the client’sCommunicating this plan to all parties involved and then and service provider’s ability to achieve the deliveryperiodically updating and reviewing it will ensure that targets. As simple as it may seem, emphasizing individualeveryone takes the necessary actions when required. responsibility for SLAs has improved delivery on manyWorking together to plan and implement a well thought ADM contracts.out rotation approach can reduce the fear, anxiety andrisk when ADM resources are replaced. CONCLUSION Pointing fingers is easy when situations arise that make itONBOARDING OF STAFF difficult to achieve mutually important staffing goals.Once the service provider or client staff is brought on to Clients and service providers are both keenly interestedthe ADM project, they need the necessary information to in finding the right staff with the right skills, bringingsuccessfully do their job. Both parties should work them onto the team in a timely manner and making themtogether to create effective training materials to initiate productive as quickly as possible. Recognizing that thethe new resources onto the ADM team as soon as they goals are the same for both parties is a key step toare assigned. The material should be up-to-date and re- finding common approaches and opportunities todistributed to the team members when important new address staffing issues and achieve a positive resultinformation is added. Posting this material in a team for allows for easy access; project leaders should alsoreview key points periodically with the entire team.ADM STAFFING AND SKILLS CHALLENGES REQUIRE A TEAM EFFORT ■ DOUG BUNCH 3
  5. 5. LOOKING FOR A STRATEGIC PARTNER?Doug Bunch is an ISG Director.Contact Doug at or 214-392-2570.Information Services Group (ISG) (NASDAQ: III) is a leading technology insights, market intelligence and advisory servicescompany, serving more than 500 clients around the world to help them achieve operational excellence. ISG supportsprivate and public sector organizations to transform and optimize their operational environments through research,benchmarking, consulting and managed services, with a focus on information technology, business process transformation,program management services and enterprise resource planning. Clients look to ISG for unique insights and innovativesolutions for leveraging technology, the deepest data source in the industry, and more than five decades of experience ofglobal leadership in information and advisory services. Based in Stamford, Conn., the company has more than 800employees and operates in 21 countries. For additional information, visit 121412 © Copyright 2012 Information Services Group – All Rights Reserved