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Five Staffing Options to Drive Business Continuity

By BC Management, an Avalution Consulting Company:

When it comes to getting business continuity related work done and striving to achieve the right level of resilience, an organization typically has five staffing model choices to get it done:

  1. Full-Time Employees
  2. Staff Augmentation Resources (temporary staff to supplement full-time internal employees)
  3. Professional Services (consultants)
  4. Outsourcing (third-party staff performing the work indefinitely)
  5. Hybrid Model

This article defines each of the staffing models introduced above, summarizes some of the key considerations when determining the best way to tackle a business continuity assignment in the most efficient manner possible, and offers example tasks that are optimal for each.

Staffing Models Defined
Motivated people with the right skills and experience get the right work done and drive innovation. But what’s the right staffing model for your specific business challenge and circumstance? Let’s define the “big four” and introduce a fifth “hybrid” model.

Full-Time Employees
This one’s probably obvious. Full-time employees are exempt or non-exempt permanent staff retained, managed, and compensated directly by an organization. These resources are assigned goals and objectives, under the direction of internal managers who evaluate their performance. An organization chooses to add full-time resources when the need is indefinite and there are suitably experienced professionals available for hire.

Risks to Manage: Availability of full-time BCM professionals is limited – particularly during good economic times. Also, the organization is responsible for training and continuing education of full-time employees, especially for those with professional certifications.  Lastly, new employees must fit the culture of your organization and you must address their expectations and motivators, or they won’t stay long.

Staff Augmentation Resources
This one might be a little less obvious based on market feedback. Staff augmentation resources are temporary staff members assigned to an existing function or team for a specific purpose for a finite period of time. In this staffing model, the organization directly manages the temporary staff. Organizations often choose to add temporary staff when their existing internal resources are consumed with other assignments or they lack a specific skill or experience that may only be needed for a specific task.

Risks to Manage: Staff augmentation works best if you have resiliency skills in house but need to temporarily scale the team to achieve your goals. If you don’t have the skills in house, it’s hard to evaluate if the staff augmentation resource is being effective.

Professional Services
Also known as consulting, organizations choose to engage third-party consultants when they have a specific business challenge and the organization neither has the time nor expertise to solve the problem (or the need is time-sensitive). In this model, a consulting organization – with one or more assigned resources – are given a problem and they offer a solution (which may include designing and/or implementing a solution to solve the problem). If selected for the project, the consulting organization is accountable for providing the deliverables on time and in a high-quality manner based on an approach and roles/responsibilities agreed to by the parties. In other words, the consulting resources are self-managed and accountable to the organization solely for commitments made in a statement of work.

Risks to Manage: Only pay professional services firms for successfully delivering the project. This is typically known as fixed price. The firm should take responsibility for on-time, quality delivery without detailed management from you.

Outsourcing or Managed Services
Over the past 10-20 years, outsourcing non-core business processes has come into vogue, which frees the organization to perform work that aligns to its core focus. Outsourcing the business continuity program to a third-party frees the organization from worrying about hiring and retaining scarce resources to perform a core risk management function. In an outsourced capacity, the organization (typically an internal program sponsor and/or steering committee) defines the approach with the outsourcer’s advice, and then measures the performance as if the outsourcer’s resources are internal staff. Best yet, the outsourcer continues to deliver while refreshing the work with current best practices honed across its work with other organizations.  In addition to operating the planning process, the outsourcer may also participate in the response to a disruptive event

Risks to Manage: For some organizations, outsourcing is used as an opportunity to provide the lower quality or lower cost resources. Demand the staff assigned to your account have: the right experience, a long-term commitment, and spend some time onsite.

The Hybrid Model
In some cases, a hybrid model might make the most sense for your organization. Initially the project would kick off being managed and directed by professional services and then, later on, professionals (staff augmentation) would be added to either work in tandem with the consulting services team during the engagement or they would be onboarded towards the conclusion of the consulting engagement as the effort transitions to permanent, internal resources.

Key Considerations When Choosing
Which model is best for your organization? Consult the following table for some guidance regarding the first four staffing models.

When considering an internally staffed program versus an outsourced program, consider the following before making a choice:

  1. Culturally, has your organization been successful outsourcing before?
  2. Is your organization still positioned to retain accountability and provide oversight?
  3. Have you struggled with retaining staff in the past?

If you’ve answered yes to these three questions, outsourcing may be a solid option.

One more consideration when making a staffing choice is cost. In general, full-time resources are less expensive than similar resources available via staff augmentation. Consulting resources are typically more expensive than similar internal or staff augmentation resources (due to project management requirements and the introduction of intellectual property). And when comparing full-time employees with an outsourcing model, the latter is often less expensive given fewer resources are required, as the outsourcer does not have the internal employment obligations that take away from delivering business continuity services.

Which Model is Right for You?
Below, we’ve provided a few examples of tasks that align well to staff augmentation staffing models versus professional services:

Conclusions
Organizational and program needs are ever-changing and, as a result, the talent needed to address your organization’s goals will change too. You’ll want to keep these staffing options in mind so you’re positioned to engage the right type of resources to address your organization’s needs.


About the Authors: Cheyene Marling is the founder and president of BC Management, an executive staffing and research services for the business continuity profession worldwide. BC Management was recently acquired by Avalution Consulting. Brian Zawada is the Managing Director and Chief Visionary Officer for Avalution, an industry provider of business continuity and IT disaster recovery consulting services and software solutions and the creator of the Business Continuity Operating System™ (BCOS) and Catalyst Business Continuity Software.

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