In 10 years of working with elite human performance (HP) organizations across the globe, we’ve seen that the best typically build out their staff with highly competent subject matter experts who are able to make a positive contribution immediately while also furthering their organization’s long-term goals. But depending on your structure, strategy, and needs, outsourcing some of your human performance analytics tasks could make sense. In this article, we’ll explore the situations where consulting or staff augmentation might be appropriate and some keys to making an outsourced relationship successful.
If you find this helpful, we also recommend you download the full guide: Building Your Human Performance Analytics Team.
Building a Data-Informed Culture
As author Simon Sinek points out in his New York Times bestselling book Start with Why, trying to create a data-informed culture within your HP group that also extends to the coaching staff, practitioners, and the athletes/service members you serve is a time-consuming process. Establishing and perpetuating a grassroots movement requires disparate roles and systems to come together, complete buy-in from everyone involved, and a deep understanding of both individual skill sets and overarching systems.
To derive the greatest return on investment (ROI) from outsourcing, it’s important that your organization possesses the internal know-how to assess and validate what your chosen partner is bringing to the table and understands the difference between successful and unsuccessful outcomes.
This is why we recommend you build a strong foundation of your internal HP analytics team before looking to outsource any of its functions.
Staff Augmentation for Defined, Repeatable Tasks
While it’s often unwise to outsource core competencies, there are use cases in which leveraging external resources would benefit your organization.
Staff augmentation can be useful to offload well-defined, repeatable tasks that don’t require an intimate knowledge of your organization’s culture or people. This can save money (compared to hiring staff to do these tasks) and free up your internal people to focus on more value-add activities that better leverage their expertise.
Staff augmentation could also be utilized as a short-term bridge, whereby you temporarily contract with a third party to increase capacity as you look to hire more permanent HP personnel.
Cleaning or normalizing data, preparing reports, or importing information from a third-party system into an athlete management system (AMS) like Smartabase are routine tasks that can be good candidates to outsource.
One of the limitations of staff augmentation is that it’s usually not the best fit for projects that require a high level of context and institutional knowledge. If this is what’s needed to get a certain task done, then it will be best to keep it in-house.
Staff augmentation also shouldn’t be thought of as a potential replacement for key members of your HP analytics team. Whether it’s a leadership position or an integral, senior role such as sports scientist, your group needs to know the inner workings of your organization, develop key relationships with colleagues, practitioners, coaches, and athletes, and contribute to the data-informed culture you’re trying to build.
Partnering with a Consultant
The second main situation when outsourcing may make sense is when you want to consult with an outside expert. This involves partnering with a company like Smartabase which has a proven track record helping human performance organizations transform data and information into actionable knowledge and wisdom.
Whereas staff augmentation can often be temporary, involve low-level tasks, and be on a project-by-project basis, a consulting relationship might be more productive when it’s ongoing. This will enable your organization to go deeper into certain areas of HP analytics over time and achieve greater continuity than you would with an ad hoc contract.
Rather than outsourcing entire roles, consulting arrangements often encompass certain responsibilities that can change and evolve over time. These could include training, implementation, and support. A collaborative consulting engagement can provide much-needed direction, deliver answers that go beyond what you initially asked for or thought you needed, and ensure you’re taking full advantage of the latest HP technology innovations.
A valued partner should feel like an extension of your HP analytics team instead of a separate entity, with personable professionals contributing deep domain knowledge and technical expertise while demonstrating that they care about your people and the valuable work they’re doing.
In summary, your HP analytics program will be in the strongest position to excel if you first focus on building in-house expertise, hiring talented and complementary experts, and establishing a data-informed culture. Once you have these anchors in place, then you can start considering which outsourcing approach will help you scale and evolve your team.
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