Using consultants to address challenging technology problems gives you short-term acceleration. Integrating consultants with your tech team provides for continuous knowledge transfer, builds capabilities and maintains velocity after the consulting engagement. This approach avoids the consulting hangover that happens when your tech team does not retain the capabilities that solve the problems.
You’ve seen it before, an immune response from your tech team caused by bringing in consultants that are subject matter experts to address a challenge. Territoriality happens. Creating an integrated project team with in-house experts and consultants has many benefits – faster ramp-up time for consultants, in-house ownership of the long-term solution, and explicitly answers the question of knowledge transfer. Your tech team gets to learn new methods and approaches – the remediation for immune response.
How to build a successful integrated project team?
- Assemble the right team – Include in-house technology team members and product owners who are responsible for long-term ownership of the solution. Align them with the consultants.
- Have well-defined roles – Designate the sponsor, product owner, and tech lead. The sponsor represents the business goals, the why, is responsible for resolving blockers, and acts as the tie-breaker. The product owner advocates for product features, functional requirements, and non-functional requirements – the what. The tech lead is focused on translating the features and requirements into the implementation – the how.
- Define the problem – Create a problem statement that clearly defines the problems to be solved.
- Define success criteria – What are the business and technology goals? What are the quality criteria – how good does the solution need to be? What is the definition of done? Include building in-house capabilities and knowledge transfer.
- Transparency – Put in place responsibility, processes, and tools that allow non-technical staff to monitor the progress against goals.
- Build trust and accountability – Transparency and measuring progress over time show promises made and promises kept. Maintain a leaderboard of completed work and work to be done.
- Iterate – Deliver business value early, validate the implementation of requirements with stakeholders, and allow more opportunity to get things right.
- Transfer knowledge – Actively transfer knowledge and capability over time. Team up consultants and company staff to work tasks.
- Segue – Assign primary responsibility for tasks to company staff over time; increase proportion of responsibility over time.
- Handoff – Eventually handoff full responsibility for the product/system lifecycle to company staff.
Taking the integrated project team approach empowers your in-house team to address this class of problems in the future. Your staff has gained capabilities, they have ownership of the solution, and the project is a long-term success.