As the economy picks up speed, business owners face a dilemma: Hire new workers, or outsource required work? This is one of those problems business owners and managers want to have. After all, it’s far preferable to be in need of a few good workers than to be struggling just to cover costs. Still, as experienced IT consultants we can vouch for the difficulty of figuring out the best pathway for growth. Each business is unique and has its own considerations to work through before bringing on new hires or arranging a new outsourcing partnership with an IT consulting firm. Still, we think the following overview can help owners and managers approach the broader question – “To hire or not to hire?”
Hiring Overqualified IT Experts: Pros and Cons
To back up a step, we’re focusing on overqualified workers because that is what many SMB owners and managers will discover in the employment pool. The Great Recession left plenty of IT consultants and experts without work, and chances are you’ll find more than a few applicants for any position you advertise. (Indeed, those who list jobs on Craigslist often find themselves overwhelmed with responses; it’s not unusual for hundreds of candidates to answer postings.) Here is one advantage and one drawback to hiring an overqualified IT expert to join your staff:
PRO: Overqualified workers often perform better. Berrin Erdogan at Portland State University has just completed a study on the performance of overqualified workers. Her research uncovered a surprising truth: The assumption that overqualified workers will be bored, and will therefore underperform or leave, is simply untrue. Indeed, Erdogan found that “People don’t stay or leave a company because of their skills. They stay or leave because of working conditions.”
Con: Overqualified workers may expect higher pay. For this and other reasons, you may not achieve as much ROI if you hire a full-time worker. IT consultants can often deliver identical or superior services at a lower cost.
Hiring an IT Consulting Firm: Pros and Cons
Pro: An IT consulting firm will see the bigger picture. Most SMB owners and managers have had the insight that employees are often less tuned into a company’s overall business needs than are employers. While workers can be overly focused on their own silos (and paychecks), IT consultants must keep your company’s best interests at heart – or risk losing your patronage to a competitor.
Pro: IT consultants know when to minimize costs and when to invest. Because nearly every IT consulting firm maintains a bank of clients, IT consultants usually have a varied, strong background in different possible IT arrangements. Whereas an employee is likely to seek out cost-saving options without regard for prioritization, IT consultants have the experience to know when to go cheap and when it’s wiser to invest in upper-shelf software or hardware. Indeed, those who work for an IT consulting firm often have a better grasp of IT best practices than the average IT worker.
Con: Not all IT consultants can be in your office during all working hours. IT consultants are experts at providing non-biased, knowledgeable IT advice that’s custom-tailored for each unique business. However, due to the nature of outsourcing, an IT consulting firm will generally require some notice to bring IT consultants into your office. Be sure to ask if the IT consultant you are talking to can provide this level of service if you think you’ll need someone who will always be at your beck and call, ready at a moment’s notice.
In conclusion, there are pros and cons to both hiring and outsourcing. Your ultimate decision will depend on your company’s priorities and needs. If you’re curious about how Lead I.T. would perform as your IT consulting firm, check out our customer testimonials.
[ Photo by: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, on Flickr, via CC License ]