How Contract Employees Can Help Your IT Team

December 11th, 2015

The start of the year can be an uncertain time in business. Project commitments and budgets for the new year may not be final yet, while work may have missed end-of-year deadlines and carried forward to the new year. Departments that are struggling to cope with the challenge of high volumes of work in the first quarter may find temporary help to be an ideal solution.

Catch Up on Deadlines

If you missed deadlines at the end of the year, adding temporary staff can help you get back on top of your projects. Contract employees can bring specialized skills your team was missing, enabling you to solve problems the team was struggling with. Alternatively, bringing in contractors with basic skill sets can free your team from grunt work and let them focus on the value-added functions that require the business knowledge only long-term employees have. In either scenario, using contractors means there’s no long-term commitment on your part, so once the project’s back on track, they can be let go without any hard feelings on either side.

Get a Jump on New Projects

If you have projects line up for the new year that need to be staffed and can’t afford to wait to bring on new permanent hires, using contractors lets you build an IT team quickly so the project can start without delay. You can continue to search for appropriate permanent employees without the pressure of hiring somebody, anybody, just to get work started. You can also avoid the risk of adding permanent staff until you have management’s final commitment to the project and know it won’t be canceled just as you bring on new developers.

Keep Budgets and Headcount Under Control

Not every company has budgets and headcount for the new year finalized at the beginning of January. If you aren’t certain how many resources you’ll be able to support in the coming year, using contractors gives you flexibility to adapt when changes occur. If you do have final headcount and budget numbers, and they’re lower than you requested, using contract employees can be more cost-effective, as you don’t have to factor in the cost of benefits.
Whether you want to hire permanent staff or use contract employees on a temporary basis, working with a staffing agency is the most efficient way to find the right people for your team. Contact InReach IT Solutions to find out how we can help you solve your staffing problems.

3 Ways to Know You’re Micromanaging

November 20th, 2015

Part of your job as a manager is to oversee your team’s work, but it’s also part of your job to let your team get the work done themselves. Micromanaging is damaging to team morale; it’s also damaging to your career because the time you spend overseeing your team is time you can’t spend focused on bigger priorities. Here are three signs that you’re micromanaging instead of leading:

  1. You check in with your team daily, or even more often. You even check in when you’re on vacation. If you need constant status reports and updates to reassure you that things are going ok, your team legitimately feels that you don’t trust them to get the work done. If you have good people on your team, trust that they’ll get the work done. Let them know they can, and should, come to you when there are problems. While you need to get updates and stay informed, “no news is good news” is as true at the office as it is anywhere else. Learn to limit your requests for status updates to once a week except when you’re truly in crisis mode.
  1. You sweat the small stuff. As a manager, you should be focused on the overall goals and progress of a project, not the details of every work item. Let your team accomplish their tasks on their own. You may be more experienced than they are, and can share your knowledge, but ultimately they need to find their own way to get the job done. As long as the results are satisfactory and the way the work is getting done isn’t causing any friction or other problems, the process isn’t really a problem.
  1. You keep the important tasks for yourself. Failing to delegate is a common sign of micromanagement. Keeping the “important” tasks for yourself assures you that they’ll be done the way you want, but it also means your team is stuck with just the drudgework. It also deprives team members of the chance to learn and develop their skills—skills that would help them work more independently in the future.

Need help building a team you can trust so you can stop micromanaging? Work with InReach IT Solutions to find job candidates with the skills to work independently.

Avoidable Reasons Employees Fail

August 14th, 2015

And How to Overcome These!

Terminating an employee can be traumatic, for the employee, the manager, and the remaining co-workers. Besides the emotional impact, there’s a financial impact as being short-staffed causes projects to fall behind and keeps firms from accepting new work, plus all the costs of having to recruit and train a replacement worker. Even worse, the reasons employees fail at work are often avoidable. It’s far better for companies to work with employees to overcome these issues than to stop trying to make the situation work out.

Employees Lack Proper Tools

Some employees will succeed despite lacking tools. Others will struggle. Many companies try to save money by not purchasing licenses for useful software development packages. The result is that code takes longer to write or isn’t thoroughly tested. It looks like the developer isn’t competent; in reality, they’re simply handicapped by their development environment.

Employees Lack Training

Similarly, some employers don’t invest in training employees, seeing a few days at a course as a few days not working on the project. As a result, employees are left to figure out development methodologies and development tools on their own, sometimes taking days to resolve a problem that would have been quickly solved if they were trained previously.

Management Doesn’t Provide Direction

If management doesn’t set clear priorities, employees are left to figure out where to focus their efforts. They may work on the most important problem; they may not. Even when management communicates priorities, if those priorities change frequently, employees may flail about, unable to stay focused on any project long enough to complete it well.

Management Doesn’t Listen

While managers need to give direction at the outset, managers also need to listen to their employees. There will always be questions about what needs to be done, and suggestions about changes to the project. If management is too busy to respond to employees, they are forced to either follow the original instructions, which may not be appropriate, or make their best guess as to what should be done, which may not be accurate.

A careful recruiting process will bring good people into your business, but you need to continue to support them once they’re working for you to achieve success. Contact InReach IT Solutions to find out how we can help you find great IT staff.

Evaluating Productivity on Your Team

June 26th, 2015

Do you know how productively your team is working? Counting lines of code was an early attempt at measuring programmer’s productivity, but if you use that metric, it’s easy to game the system: null statements boost output with no effort and no benefit. It doesn’t help that elegant, efficient code is harder to write – but more compact.

Lines of Code or Function Points

In any case, lines of code is the wrong metric, because evaluating productivity requires measuring the desired output, and companies aren’t trying to generate lines of code, they’re trying to generate applications that perform specific functions. So perhaps function points are the right metric?  The first problem is that counting function points is highly variable.

The second problem is similar to that of counting lines of code — the quality of the implementation matters as much as the quantity does. A developer who writes easily understood, maintainable, reusable code may have contributed more to the project than a developer who completed more function points but whose code can’t be reused and is difficult to maintain. Since this quality can’t be measured in real-time — you won’t know how hard the code is to maintain until it’s live in production — this means measuring productivity can’t truly be known until time has elapsed.

And neither lines of code nor function points give any way to assess the contributions of the non-coding members of the team. The result is that team productivity shouldn’t be assessed by applying quantitative metrics on an individual level, identifying the “slowest” programmers, and cracking the whip to get them to crank out code more quickly.

Remove Non-Productive Tasks

Instead of trying to collapse a team’s productivity down to a single number, focus on improving team productivity by eliminating the non-productive tasks that can take up the bigger part of a day.

Ask developers what gets in the way of getting the job done — do they have the tools they need and an efficient workflow that drives a development process through its lifecycle? Do they have the training they need? Are they spending time writing useless status reports? Are they working from clear requirements? Improve productivity by fixing the problems that reduce the team’s ability to deliver.

Build the Right Team

The most productive teams are filled with employees who are excited about their work and enjoy working together. InReach IT Solutions can help you find your next employee. Contact us today to learn about our hiring solutions.