Imagine that your company is in the midst of an important new software deployment. Your IT team has been planning and preparing for nearly 12 months and is completely focused on the project. Yet, just as they start on a crucial phase they discover underlying problems with your existing systems, problems that need to be rectified before sections of the new project can proceed. It’s a major hiccup that is going to take months to fix and time is of the essence.
a) Reassign one of your already overstretched IT team members to the problem and recognise that tying up the resource will impact project deliverables further down the track; or
b) Seek the services of a contractor, an independent professional (referred to as IPro by Entity Solutions)?
If you chose the latter, you might find that you’ve taken a major step towards ensuring the success of your IT deployment. The IPro Index, a research study conducted by Monash University and sponsored by Entity Solutions, has identified that IPros can be an extremely effective way of bringing new vigour to a stalled project, adding resourcefulness to a project team or even a way of enabling permanent staff to focus on more exciting and rewarding work.
Now three years into reporting, what has emerged from the IPro Index is a picture of a flexible, adaptable and positive professional workforce that, when approached correctly, is willing to go the extra mile to ensure project success for a client.
The first thing to understand is that engaged IPros are energetic and feel very connected to their work. Even more importantly, IPros are very capable of and able to deal effectively with the demands of their job. Ninety one percent of IPros ‘slightly agree’ to ‘strongly agree’ that they are generally satisfied with the work they do as an IPro.
Eighty nine percent rated that they are ‘often’ to ‘always’ proud of the work that they do and also feel happy when they are working intensely. Eighty four percent are ‘often’ to ‘always’ enthusiastic about their job and 82% state that they are ‘often’ to ‘always’ immersed in their work.
IPros like challenge and change. It seems to bring out the best in them. They approach each engagement with confidence, enthusiasm and vigour. These are all qualities that can re-energise a project or help to drive activity when faced with an impending deadline.
The second thing to recognise about IPros is that most are highly competent, self-aware individuals. They see themselves as able to cope with difficult tasks and problems. Ninety nine percent believe it is ‘slightly true’ or ‘completely true’ that they can usually handle whatever comes their way, with 98& of IPros feeling that their past experiences in their jobs have prepared them well for their occupational future.
They have the traits of self-starters. Providing they are equipped with the right knowledge and tools, you could confidently set an IPro to a self-contained project and expect them to diligently see it through to the end. The IT systems hiccup mentioned earlier is a perfect example.
Being a self-starter is also essential when dealing with less-than-exciting work. Where an internal staff member may procrastinate or constantly re-prioritise tasks to avoid the mundane, IPros are more likely to understand the need to just get on with it and get the job done.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected findings of the survey has been the degree of loyalty and engagement that IPros feel for their clients. One in two IPros would be very happy to spend the rest of their career working for their current client organisation and the same number feel as if their current client organisation’s problems are their own.
Savvy organisations will recognise that these feelings of belonging and responsibility are potential motivators. IPros who believe their services are recognised and appreciated are likely to respond with an increased desire to help the organisation or project reach its objectives.
In other words, the best IPro/client relationships are those where trust exists between the two parties and the benefits are mutual. The key to this result? The ability to predict a positive matching of IPro and client goals.
Employing a consultant
Once you understand what drives an IPro and can recognise their workplace desires, it becomes easier to identify suitable potential projects and tasks within your own organisation. IPros are not just a useful source of additional, temporary labour or skills. There is a strong case for employing IPros in circumstances such as when a project needs an injection of energy, enthusiasm and dedication.
You also might just find additional benefits from the new and external perspective that an IPro can bring to your organisation.