What do they know that you don’t?
While perusing LinkedIn for “People I may know”, I noticed that a lot of current BIM Managers have recent experience at Reseller and/or Training companies. This could simply be attributed to the fact that Resellers have been hit as hard as A/E/C firms by this economic downturn. BUT, it could also mean that those A/E/C firms have recognized the importance of having in-house expertise.
Allow me to pose this multiple choice question:
WHEN (not IF) the economy turns around, how do you plan to meet demand?
a) Have your current staff pull double shifts?
b) Try to lure capable staff away from competitors?
c) Rifle through the stack of resumes you’ve accumulated since the downturn began and hope like heck you can add sufficient staff in time?
d) Wait until the next round of graduates becomes available and hire at entry level?
e) Hire anyone who can walk and chew gum at the same time and send them to training?
f) Tell your Clients that their deadlines will have to be delayed until you can mobilize?
Let’s tackle the last one first: Telling your Clients “No” is not an option – especially nowadays. Most Clients have a backlog of projects on hold, pending funding and approval which, according to Murphy’s Law, will all break loose at the same time. It’ll be a good problem to have, considering the alternative, but a problem nonetheless.
Asking significantly more of your current staff, which is probably already over-worked due to cut-backs, is short-sighted and will lead to the reverse of Option b above (i.e. they’ll jump ship at the first opportunity).
So, let’s assume that some combination of the others might pose a solution. Are you prepared to raise compensations to lure talent, knowing it will create a ripple effect? Have you kept in contact with potential hires or are most of those resumes now “cold cases”? Are you counting on luck to align demand with graduations? Will you have the time to wait for your Vendor’s training schedule to cycle around? Do you expect your Clients to give you a few months’ notice that their projects are getting released (keeping in mind that your contact may not even know until someone up the corporate ladder green-lights them)?
Staffing up in advance of demand might make meeting deadlines easier, but it’s not necessarily a wise move financially.
Firms with forward vision have already covered their bases by adding in-house expertise (via direct hire or a consulting arrangement) and will be able to add and train staff in an efficient manner. Hiring entry level staff and providing firm-specific training (not just how to draw lines, arcs and circles) is cost-effective and expeditious. Hiring previously displaced A/E/C professionals and training them in-house will yield better Project Managers and Job Captains sooner. Encouraging your current staff to mentor incoming hires will benefit and elevate all involved.
If one is going to war, it’s all well and good to have legions of soldiers. But, without the proper logistics and command structure, they could all march off in different directions. Note that the demand for Knowledge Leaders will also surge with the recovery. It’d be in your firm’s best interest to have expertise for your Core and Support Functions on-board before the floodgates open and the auctions begin.