Managing Contractors in Tough Times

By Thomas G. Dolan, ITworld |  Opinion

But now that those applications are up and running, he
has been reducing his reliance on outside help in lieu of internal
staff.

"As we execute our activities in relation to the goals of the overall
business plan, it may make good sense to outsource certain activities,"
says Micali. "There are two main reasons. The first is to accelerate a
project, and the second is to recruit a specific skill we may not have."

Girding for Growth
Although most organizations are cutting back on their use of outside
help, James Ellison, director of information systems for the Las Vegas
Valley Water District, says his use of external contractors is
independent of the economy.

The water district has recently completed a three-year project to add
to or change a variety of applications, including water billing, order
management, and customer service systems. Ellison says he plans to
initiate another big project in about 18 months and insists that the
outside economy hasn't affected his decisions on either project.

"It's been said that the general economic downturn is a high-tech
problem. But this is still a [growing] resort and retirement area," so
these projects are needed to support that growth, Ellison explains.

For other organizations that are holding back on their external
spending, the logjam of projects and work that has been put on hold due
to the economic downturn should eventually turn in favor of outside
contractors, says Maria Schafer, an analyst at Meta Group Inc. in
Stamford, Conn.

"Most companies do not have an integrated process for developing
technical people. So even though outside consultants and contractors
are currently in retreat, when the pendulum swings the other way, they
will come charging back," she says.

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