Author, Dan Cobb is the VP of Solution Services for GDH Consulting supplying Professional Services, Managed Services, and RPO solutions.
Back in 2004 I wrote an article highlighting the entry of staffing firms into the Professional Services arena, specifically touting their ability to support infrastructure deployment projects (http://www.datamation.com/article.php/3306421 ). At that time, we were just coming out of the 2000 downturn and changes to the industry were being driven by those financial realities. Looking back over that article today I realize that we are seeing a similar surge of staffing firms engaging in project solutions, but driven this time by changes in technology itself.
Back in the 2000’s the geographic footprint and lower costs of staffing made it a great fit for the relatively straight forward deployment and rack-and-stack engagements many firms were pursuing as they replaced hardware neglected since before the dot.com boom. Hardware manufacturers and larger consulting firms were quick to notice this as well and many formed partnerships with staffing firms, white labeling field service solutions to augment or replace their own. Today you would be hard pressed to find a deployment team from a major manufacturer that doesn’t belong to some smaller staffing or specialty firm when you pull back the label.
While these “feet on the street” personnel are still needed for hardware moves and installs, much of the previously required on-site support can be accomplished remotely due to advances in technology. Design, architecture, development, configuration, testing and even most monitoring and system management can be performed from anywhere in the world given the proper combination of software and credentials. So how does this step toward agnostic geography impact staffing’s ability to deliver on PS engagement - consultant flexibility?
In my previous article, I described the delivery arm that staffing firms wield being able to identify and deliver local personnel to provide short term deployment solutions. No small task. Now imagine that same delivery arm, but with the freedom to identify talent anywhere in the World. Instead of focusing on where projects must be completed, now we can focus on when they need to be completed. This tech based flexibility, combined with the advantages of the staffing industry, allow for unique and creative uses of contingent human capital to provide more advanced project solutions.
Recently GDH was asked to support a number of EMC migrations. The engagement called for several implementations where new devices needed to be installed, configured, tested, then data from old devices migrated to the new system. GDH was able to provide an after-hours solution utilizing a highly skilled part time resource delivering configuration, testing and data migration services remotely with centralize Project Management insuring communication, scheduling and documentation. Key elements in the success of this project included:
- The technology allowing remote access to support the necessary changes.
- A Staffing delivery engine able to find an affordable resource already working a full-time engagement who was willing to put in part-time “after hours” to work with the clients unique schedule.
So, while staffing firms can continue to provide cost effective on premise solutions around audit, inventories and deployments; new technology has allowed them to become strategic partners in the design, configuration and testing space as well.