How to decide whether to outsource project management

How to decide whether to outsource project management

How to decide whether to outsource project management

The price of speed

Speed is difficult to estimate for a job you've never done before, and doubly so if your team has other commitments. If you're DIYing a project you've rarely or never attempted, there will be a significant productivity gap as you learn the skills and potentially rework early efforts. These activities are difficult to estimate and, if you plan to go the DIY route, be sure to build in significant contingency time.

In many cases, the slower pace of a DIY effort can be worth the payoff; however, there are times when market or organizational demands dictate a faster pace. Just as an individual might happily tackle a guest bedroom renovation but leave the most-used bathroom to hired help, there are times when speed overrides most other concerns and requires additional help.

The opportunity cost

The key driver of savings from doing a project in-house is the cost of external labor, which can be significant especially for specialized or rare skills. However, using your internal labor is not completely free. The people you engage on a DIY effort presumably still have other responsibilities, and for larger efforts, the focus of whole groups or teams will be redirected away from their current activities. Just as the weekend mechanic should ask if their time would be better spent on their day job or enjoying some leisure time, so should you account for the opportunity cost in both time and finding when you redirect your team's focus.

Do you really need that skill?

For many DIYers, whether complex IT organizations or individuals, a key attractor to doing the job internally is the acquisition of new skills. While I may never tile another floor, I'm happy to have that skill set. However, some skills either have such limited applicability, or are such a function of labor input that they're not worth acquiring. For example, in my construction projects I've always outsourced hanging drywall. It requires lots of specialized, single-use tools, and is back-breaking work that also requires a level of artistry to do well. Similarly, skills like custom software development on a limited-use platform might be better left to outsiders that have the skills, tools, and bodies that would take months and significant expense to replicate.

Check your bias

If you find yourself constantly gravitating to doing all projects internally, or outsourcing every task that comes your way, take the time to analyze why you're making these decisions. Many leaders and even whole organizations have a bias toward DIY vs. outsourcing that's rooted in unhealthy organizational cultural issues. Making DIY decisions based on cultural expectations rather than the facts on the ground can be a recipe for disaster.

At the end of the day, a DIY decision is incredibly important, and it's one that IT leaders risk making without detailed analysis based on old habits or unacknowledged assumptions about the costs and benefits. With a little diligence, your DIY and outsourced efforts will go smoothly and benefit your organization in the near and longer term.

The price of speed

Speed is difficult to estimate for a job you've never done before, and doubly so if your team has other commitments. If you're DIYing a project you've rarely or never attempted, there will be a significant productivity gap as you learn the skills and potentially rework early efforts. These activities are difficult to estimate and, if you plan to go the DIY route, be sure to build in significant contingency time.

In many cases, the slower pace of a DIY effort can be worth the payoff; however, there are times when market or organizational demands dictate a faster pace. Just as an individual might happily tackle a guest bedroom renovation but leave the most-used bathroom to hired help, there are times when speed overrides most other concerns and requires additional help.

The opportunity cost

The key driver of savings from doing a project in-house is the cost of external labor, which can be significant especially for specialized or rare skills. However, using your internal labor is not completely free. The people you engage on a DIY effort presumably still have other responsibilities, and for larger efforts, the focus of whole groups or teams will be redirected away from their current activities. Just as the weekend mechanic should ask if their time would be better spent on their day job or enjoying some leisure time, so should you account for the opportunity cost in both time and finding when you redirect your team's focus.

Do you really need that skill?

For many DIYers, whether complex IT organizations or individuals, a key attractor to doing the job internally is the acquisition of new skills. While I may never tile another floor, I'm happy to have that skill set. However, some skills either have such limited applicability, or are such a function of labor input that they're not worth acquiring. For example, in my construction projects I've always outsourced hanging drywall. It requires lots of specialized, single-use tools, and is back-breaking work that also requires a level of artistry to do well. Similarly, skills like custom software development on a limited-use platform might be better left to outsiders that have the skills, tools, and bodies that would take months and significant expense to replicate.

Check your bias

If you find yourself constantly gravitating to doing all projects internally, or outsourcing every task that comes your way, take the time to analyze why you're making these decisions. Many leaders and even whole organizations have a bias toward DIY vs. outsourcing that's rooted in unhealthy organizational cultural issues. Making DIY decisions based on cultural expectations rather than the facts on the ground can be a recipe for disaster.

At the end of the day, a DIY decision is incredibly important, and it's one that IT leaders risk making without detailed analysis based on old habits or unacknowledged assumptions about the costs and benefits. With a little diligence, your DIY and outsourced efforts will go smoothly and benefit your organization in the near and longer term.