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When Are Consultants More Beneficial Than Full-Time Staff?

Editorial Team

While some Owners choose to hire consultants, others prefer to rely on in-house teams to perform much of the technology design and project management for their building programs. Owners might have previously had negative experiences with consultants and may believe they can ensure quality and cost-effectiveness by hiring their own staff.

All of this is understandable, and some roles should indeed be hired in-house. However, it’s worth questioning some potential assumptions and evaluating when and how bringing on a qualified consultant could be more beneficial than relying entirely on an in-house team. We recommend considering the following:

All companies know that it takes a long time to sift through resumes to find the right candidates, interview them, and then even more time to onboard and train new team members. All of this time can mean significant delays to a program that might be very fast-paced, particularly in the data center market!

Salary and benefits are not the only costs involved with full-time staff. The cost of hiring and training often translates into an added delay, but another cost that is not often taken into consideration (when it comes to engineers) is the finances involved with keeping certifications up to date.

Without subject matter experts in-house, it’s difficult to know exactly what positions you need to fill and how to recognize the best candidates. It’s common to hire an IT generalist to handle all the technology systems for a project without fully understanding where the candidate’s real strengths lie. A candidate may excel at telecom systems and lack skills needed for working with security systems, or they may lack in-depth expertise in any of the systems.

Data center projects move very fast – lessons learned need to be implemented as the project continues, or else millions of dollars of errors can occur. These projects need the right staff in the right roles who understand exactly what is needed and know the full project history.

Whether for an office building, a data center, or a hospital, the scope matrix includes a long list of systems. Beyond the main systems of telecom, security, and AV, it extends to distributed antenna systems (DAS), paging systems, or nurse call systems. A single project manager who lacks in-depth experience in any one of these systems will not be able to efficiently coordinate all of them. Some of these systems are often left to be installed by the integrators without being designed, which results in change orders or loss of functionality. To prevent this, it is critical to fully scope all of the systems and be able to design them as well as coordinate them.

Technology is always changing, and there is often a newer, better, more cost-effective way of accomplishing the same goal. Without subject matter experts or dedicated R&D staff, an in-house team is likely to miss an opportunity for innovation or automation.

Even when in-house teams have engineers across multiple systems, they do not necessarily work together in an integrated technology design approach. This is because their day-to-day operational connections tend to be stronger with other teams than with the other technology disciplines. This can impede coordination and eliminate opportunities for new ideas.

Consulting engineers are used to coordinating technology designs with architects and additional teams of engineers in the design-bid-build process. In-house teams often work in more of a design-build model, which leaves a significant gap between the architecture and the technology design (or lack thereof). This can result either in compromising aesthetics to install technology systems or compromising functionality to maintain aesthetics.

Construction administration is critical to ensuring that systems function as they were designed and intended to operate. Owners may not always be able to send a staff person to do commissioning on site. A consultant can also flag issues and see they are resolved, whereas in-house teams can sometimes be more hesitant to solve the problem.

In-house teams are always pulled in multiple directions, and initiatives tend to become stalled as staff simply cannot find the time to work on them, or to attend all the required project coordination meetings. When an external consultant is hired, they are committed to focusing on the project and delivering it within a timeline.

Rather than adding full-time staff, some Owners will try to disperse additional work among their existing team. This often causes teams to become overloaded and then leads to burnout. Much of the work involves documentation and coordination, which are critical to project success but are probably not what your staff is excited to work on. This type of work can be easily handled by a consultant, allowing your team members to focus on their strengths and to continue learning and growing in their roles.

TEECOM Can Help

We dedicate a project manager who becomes embedded with a client and remains with the program for the long haul. This provides the following advantages:

  • In some cases, TEECOM project managers have been working with our clients for eight years, far longer than any of the client’s in-house team has been there. We maintain knowledge and a culture around serving that client.
  • Our project managers support the client team with our staff as needed, selecting engineers with deep experience in the system or challenge at hand. When the client does not need those staff, they do not pay for those staff.
  • We provide clients with excellent standards and documentation so projects can be implemented consistently around the world in different resource pools.
  • When our clients ramp up programs, they do not have to devote time and resources to recruiting. We add staff to our team, which we can do quickly and effectively with a well-honed recruiting process specializing in technology engineers. We train the new staff, and we keep their certifications up to date.

Could you benefit from hiring qualified consultants for your next project? TEECOM is happy to serve our clients in whatever capacity is most beneficial. Our experts can enable in-house teams to focus on what they are good at while we address the aspects that can cause change orders and schedule delays. To learn more about our extensive consulting services, contact us today using the form at the bottom of the page!