In other words, how to make the perfect match between a talent and a project.
“No, we have no challenges regarding resourcing. I know everyone well and I have a clear overview of the projects that they are working on.”
This was a common reply in the first months when we were doing research about the challenges of software agencies.
Running a software agency can be based on this tacit knowledge in the early years. It is usually the founder, CEO who knows everyone, their skills, their wishes regarding career development and which projects they are currently working on.
However, if you are aiming higher and want to build a scalable agency, you might want to start thinking from the early stages of the company, how this knowledge can be made transparent.
Before jumping into details about the process, let’s first clarify the most important things you need to know during the resourcing process.
Skills of Talents
For a successful project the minimum requirement is for the assigned talent to be able to implement the project. So the first step for you to take is to make sure you have a clear overview of the skills of each talent in your team.
Now there are number of ways to do this. Some companies like to make skill matrixes to excels (list all the names of your team members and add the skills after those names), some companies use word or google docs, to create CV’s and some companies use commercial solutions like Jobexio or Skillhive.
Bear in mind that one of the essential features is a search functionality in which you can combine several parameters. This way even if your company grows to hundreds of people, you will still have the tool to find the perfect match.
Availability of talents
Pretty easy to understand why this is important, but some seem to fail in this aspect. If you don’t have a clear overview of the availability there can be surprisingly dramatic consequences:
- Talents end up "warming the seat” because you did not realize early enough that they need a new assignment
- You lose sales because you didn’t get the information fast enough
- And the WORST from my opinion: you end up double booking a consultant
Now, availability chart is easy to implement for example in excel or google sheets, but there are some mistakes you can run into.
First of all, when talking about the resourcing process, your allocation does not have to be super detailed. Separate planning clearly from the actual “reported” or “billed” figures. Resource planning should be made with the big brush. When you want to go into more details I think you should be considering some kind of project / task management tool, which the internet is full of. They tend to miss this planning stage but Jobexio will got you covered, if you need something a bit more than just an excel.
Motivation of talents
“Assign me to one more PHP case and I will quit my job.”
Motivation of talents is often forgotten, but plays a very important role when considering the success of the project or the success of you as an employer. Make sure that you clarify the long term career plans as well as short term wishes from your talents. Also make sure that all of your sales persons knows what kind of technologies and tools the talents want to work with.
Jobexio has a nice feature for this, “Internal profile notes” which allows your talents to write it clearly what they wish to work with. This note is then visible through the organisation, making this information available to e.g. people in sales.
Prioritisation of projects
I studied Industrial Management and in one of the strategy courses we talked about vision statements.
We had an example of a vision statement, which was from a huge Finnish company who built engines.
The statement was “We will be the most valued business partner of all our customers.”
Our lecturer asked, what is wrong with this? Everyone was silent except Juha (smart fellow, I think he is a big boss nowadays).
Juha understood the point immediately. “ALL our customers”. No company has enough resources to be the MOST valued business partner of ALL of their customers.
You have to focus on serving the most important customers well and serve the others good enough. Sometimes you even have to say no to the others in order to serve that one important customer better and this is a good decision.
After this long build up I can finally get to the point: make sure you have a clear understanding of what is the prioritisation of projects that you are doing resourcing to.
E.g. if there is a senior developer on a lower priority project than what you are about to close, find out if the senior could be replaced with a junior.
How to keep your talents Curriculum Vitae’s up to date?
Uuuh, that’s the tough one. No one want’s to update their CV’s when they are working on a project that lasts one year so they usually wait for the very last not-anymore-so-polite request that you present to them.
There are some fundamental things that you should however implement to make the updating of the CV’s more bearable for the talents.
1. Start with why
This should be clear for the whole organisation. Everyone in expert business should be developing their skills constantly and CV is the only document that shows how they have developed. CV is probably also the main tool for you to match the talent to the upcoming project so it is essential that the information in the CV is up to date.
2. Make it as easy as possible
There are several CV management products out there so please drop the word / google doc file already. Jobexio has a user friendly interface to keep your talents skills, methods and projects up to date and you can search for a perfect match with combination of specific keywords. You can also print the CV as PDF. Additionally we have a solution in the product development pipeline to help you in keeping your talents CV’s up to date.
3. Check the CV together with the talent periodically
Even if your talent is working on a longer project with a customer you should still have one-to-one meetings with them. In these one-to-ones the most important thing is to ask how they are doing but you can also use this meeting to take the CV into discussions, check what new skills the talent might have gained and update the CV accordingly together with the talent. Make sure that you add a date when the CV was previously updated so that everyone else in the organisation also sees how fresh the CV is.
The actual resourcing process of an IT agency
Now that you got all the basics lined up, the rest is pretty straightforward. Once you close your next deal you have three main things to match: skills, availability and motivation of the talents and the prioritisation of the projects.
Now if you have done everything as mentioned earlier, you have a clear overview of the skills of each individual in your company AND you have a way to search for the specific talent based on skills. All you need to do is type the skills needed to the search engine and see the results. Pick the best candidates and continue to checking their availability.
Again, if you have set up a comprehensive way to track the availability of your talents as mentioned earlier, everything is already there. Now you just need to check the availability of those candidates that you found based on their skills and see if they can implement the project.
The best way to check this is asking directly from the talent. Once you have found a match regarding the skills and availability, don't just directly assign the talent on the project. Present the project to the talents and have their opinion about it. On the other hand if you have already documented the talents wishes regarding projects you can check the match regarding the motivation.
If you notice that you have no available talents for the project you should check the priorities of the projects that the potential talents are working on. Maybe someone who is a perfect match regarding skills and motivation, but they are working on a lower priority project? Is there a chance you could choose them for this project and assign someone else to the lower priority project? This does not only give you the possibility to take the new project in, but it has also potential to bring more variability to the talents work which could make it more pleasant. From the customer side there could also be benefits: maybe introducing a new talent will bring new ways and angles to the project. We often look at things through pessimist glasses but even though we are talking about prioritisation and taking a more experienced talent away from a project it isn't necessary a bad thing for anyone!
In the end it is not about who has the best ping pong table, the nicest benefits and highest salaries. It is about what kind of culture you are building, how the talents feel that they can influence and how meaningful they feel about the position that they are in. Make sure that you listen to them and act according to their needs. Don’t make resourcing a tool and technology first -process. Make resourcing a humans first -process.