Agile Talent. We first saw this term pop-up in a Harvard Business Review article last year, describing freelancers that work in an organization on a temporary basis. “They contribute technical expertise that an organization does not already have to a critical project or initiative.”
It’s a great term to represent what we occasionally do in engagements with clients, yet its not something people often associate with management consultants.
The most obvious examples within Omni MCA are the roles that Dena and Lucia assume with some of their clients. Lucia, with her background in finance, has often found herself in the position of an Interim CFO, sort of a CFO for hire. Working with the client up to one or two days per week, she’ll help design and implement the financial systems that are often lacking in companies as they grow into a larger corporation – giving owners more data to make informed decisions. This can involve ensuring that the chart of accounts (which may have been set-up when the company first started) adequately reflects the level of sophistication of the company, facilitating the budgeting process, building positive banking relationships and putting into place adequate controls.
In this role, Lucia will develop and implement systems and controls and then transition them to a finance officer or CFO, often assisting in the hiring process. This leads us to the human resources function.
In general, businesses with fewer than 70 to 100 employees can’t justify a full-time human resources professional on staff. This function is typically handled by the owner or managers and an administrative person. As the company grows, new or expanded human resource systems are required. Once again, it can be useful to hire “agile talent” on a short-term basis to put into place people systems, making it easier for a less experienced HR professional to move into that position and maintain those systems.
Dena frequently works with companies to put into place policies and procedures, compensation systems, performance management systems, hiring processes etc. And once those systems are in place it’s much easier to sustain, calling Dena in occasionally when problems arise such as challenging employee issues, where she provides a higher level of expertise and objectivity.
These are some very specific examples of how Omni MCA can become agile talent for a company but we’ve all worked on other long-term projects with clients – temporary management, heading up a special project and marketing strategy development and implementation.
Using agile talent allows a company to hire someone with a very specific skill set, rather than hiring a generalist. Small businesses expect employees to wear many hats and while people are generally adaptable, at some point they are wearing too many hats and nothing gets done well.
Rather than overburdening current staff, agile talent gives businesses the flexibility of finding an expert, exactly when needed. Once the project is finished, the agile talent is gone, capacity has been built within existing staff and there are no ongoing wage expenses, thus reducing costs. They lawyer who drafts the occasional contract or an accountant who handles yearly tax preparation could also be considered agile talent. So can management consultants!
Agile talent, freelancing and the so-called gig economy show no signs of abating. Accenture estimated in 2013 that 20% – 30% of the American workforce falls outside the traditional, full-time, permanent relationship structure. More recently, popular freelance web site Upwork and US-based Freelancers Union released “Freelancing in America: 2016” and found that 35% of the American workforce identifies as being a freelancer.
So consider this: Does a full-time person need to be hired, or can the business objectives be met utilizing agile talent?