What Type of Worker Is Best: Consider Your Next Tech Resource Decision


When it comes to finding technology talent, hiring managers typically make their resource decisions based on experience. So, for example, if you need a programmer, you may turn immediately to a particular supplier for a contractor. Or, if you need an onsite technician in a new location, you go to HR to hire a new employee.

If you know the type of resource you need, it feels unnecessary to complicate a simple decision with new questions. But sometimes, complications arise on their own: the contractor you seek could be more expensive than expected. In other cases, the available workers don’t have the exact skills you truly need, or the market may not yield the best result in terms of fit, timing or cost.

And the connection between talent and results won’t get easier any time soon. One study found that roughly 85 million jobs will go unfilled over the next decade due to a shortage of skilled talent.  That means a careful approach to resourcing decisions will be essential for any skill-intensive project, today or in the future.

As an expert technology partner, companies depend on us to identify resource issues early and provide a better path forward. However, before a roadblock comes up, it’s best to visit your resource assumptions and be open to the alternatives on hand. Whether you are taking on the project with a partner or managing the engagement entirely in-house, understanding your options can help you avoid challenges and keep your initiative on track.

With that in mind, consider all types of resources for addressing the job at hand: a staffing supplier, a provider of statement of work (SOW) services, a freelancer, a new employee, or a current employee.

A Staffing Supplier

A good source of non-employee workers, but choose a provider that will best support the type of talent you need

An agency or tech solutions partner can deliver the staff augmentation you need to fill the roles you have in mind. Bringing in a non-employee worker is commonly the preferred choice for quickly addressing a talent need.

Pros: The contingent worker is the least complicated request to make. A great staffing partner has the network to connect to great candidates. In addition, your staffing partner should have the knowledge and expertise to align the prospective worker with your organization’s assignment and culture.

Cons: As the client, you are managing the workers you engage. They must be screened and selected, onboarded and managed so that their contributions deliver success on the assignment. Likewise, the employer must protect against misclassification risks, as workers doing the same jobs as employees are often entitled to benefits and treatment typically associated with employees.

A Services Provider

A solid option, but exercise care in setting expectations and pricing

Working under a Statement of Work (SOW) arrangement, an outsourced service provides the workers to achieve a goal or complete a project. In many ways, you are not buying resources. You are buying a result.

Pros: The provider can support a reliable strategy aimed at a specific outcome. This focus on the result supports a solid business case to stakeholders.

Cons: The approach can be costly compared to other options, so the business case for adoption needs to be solid. The parameters for success must be carefully developed at the outset.

A Freelancer

Online platforms make engagement simple, but relying on freelancers as primary resources can be risky

The rise of freelancer platforms (think Upwork.com or Toptal) enables companies to access skilled professionals directly. Those platforms promise to simplify talent engagement dramatically. Moreover, they help open doors to the many skilled workers who now embrace the freelance work style. But as always, there are significant cautions here.

Pros: Gig workers can address nearly any skills demand. The proliferation and level of sophistication in providing some vetting of talent lends itself to certain aspects of non-employee worker engagement. Namely, companies have speed, simplicity, and a documented source of workers.

Cons: The market is fragmented, so navigating multiple systems can grow complicated. Likewise, finding workers does not automatically guarantee that you will be able to hire them, or that they will provide the result you need, or that you have the means to manage them. In other words, the platforms are suitable for securing individuals to address particular demands. Still, they are not a strategy for sustaining reliable delivery across the lifecycle of a project or initiative. 

Hire a New Employee

Employees drive company success but making a new hire is time-consuming and costly

Employees make up the bulk of most organizations’ worker populations, even as flexible contingent workers and freelancer grow their influence. So, traditional talent acquisition is often the answer for ongoing worker needs that are core to the business. 

Pros: Ideally, in hiring a new worker, the organization is building on its culture and capability and also giving the worker a path to learn, grow, and contribute.

Cons: Recruiting is challenging in a competitive market. The hiring process should be taken with care and planning to ensure that the worker aligns with a longer-term business need.

A Current Employee

Creative use of internal resources may get the job done, but organizational boundaries get in the way

Companies often overlook current employees as a solution to new work demands. In an ideal scenario, an organization could allocate employees to assignments as needed. Unfortunately, company culture, current conflicts and organizational boundaries usually create roadblocks. Bosses are not so ready to give up their direct reports.

Pros: Employees know your business, are committed to the success of the effort, and benefit from the opportunity to take on new work within the organization. Internal mobility, along with employee upskilling, are core priorities for meeting future talent needs.

Cons: Internal mobility, whether to give employees a chance to take on a new role or assignment, requires a culture and organizational structure many companies do not have.

Draw from all Options to Drive the Best Strategy

A look at all the options may not change your notion of who you need right now, but if it makes you pause and take a broader look at your entire project, you may improve your outcome. Ideally, the right mix of resources can be the key to a successful project. For example, an experienced partner in driving tech initiatives and navigating the entire ecosystem of worker sources and channels can play a significant role in keeping your effort on budget and on time, even in the face of a turbulent market for workers.