The experience of working in multiple positions within one job is becoming increasingly common in large companies. Especially in the IT industry, where a person's ability to operate in multiple areas can be highly valued. Such a situation can translate into speed and quality of project execution compared to the traditional project team model.
It’s not a very popular form of work on the Polish market, which makes it difficult to precisely define this phenomenon. In law, this function is named as a multi-type work, and many sources are describing how this issue was dealt with by legislators. If you look at it from the management point of view, such an employee can be defined as a multi-skilled person, which means a person characterized by versatile skills and qualifications in various fields. In this article, we will look at the topic from the perspective of the IT industry and will search for the answer whether it is profitable from the customer's point of view to cooperate with multi-skilled employees?
Why do employees decide to become multi-skilled?
The personnel situation in many companies can sometimes be so complicated that employees perform duties beyond the scope of their position. Many of them agree to such a system of work motivating their decision by the desire to develop their existing skills. Providing employees with the opportunity to grow with new skills affects their overall job satisfaction. Such personnel are less likely to think about changing employers and do not get bored while performing their daily duties.
Sometimes, however, the division of positions seems more natural due to the convergence and connection of tasks within given positions. The simplest example is the work of HR and EB Specialists, where the main task is to create relationships with current and future employees. According to our employee, employer branding and all recruitment activities are related to each other and should closely cooperate with each other. Employer branding initiatives are aimed at building a good image of the company within its structures as well as for external recipients. Thanks to this, a potential candidate may be more likely to apply for an organization that seems friendly and developmental. In summary, recruitment and human resource management should not exist without good employer branding.
How does multi-skilling benefit the client?
For the client, the presence of an employee with the competence to operate in multiple areas can be an asset. A smaller project team reduces information noise. The presence of a person responsible for several fields also means lower costs compared to a team with specialists skilled in one discipline. When working with Multi-Skilled experts, the productivity of the entire team is also increased, and there is a greater sense of responsibility for the outcome of the project. Assigning responsibilities to an employee with an understanding of several topics can impact the final outcome of the work. After all, if a competent associate works in several areas without any hindrances, the client can rest assured about their end result. This does not mean that such a work model does not carry some risks. In case of any setbacks or random events, the area for improvement is definitely larger. There is also an increase in potential costs resulting from possible adjustments and the search for suitable replacements.
Advantages of working on two positions
Self development is a huge advantage of working in two positions. Our employees say the same. People who are characterized by following new challenges and high skills in dealing with multitasking are very eager to undertake various tasks. This allows them not to complain about boredom or monotony. In the case of HR and EB, this allows for consistency in the introduced recruitment or internal campaigns in the company.
In the case of the PM development path, our employee learns about team management, task planning (and their priorities) for the entire team and managing their own work. These are essential skills that allow you to maintain continuity of work and the effective implementation of projects. It should not be forgotten that an employee with a wide range of skills can support work on other projects in the event of illness or leave of another employee. Working as part of one project also allows you to have broader knowledge about the progress of work and needs.
Greater knowledge is also a broader view of the entire project, thanks to which you can report the situation to the client in an effortless and detailed way. It also reduces the amount of time that would have to be spent communicating within the project group. On the example of QA and PM, considering previous extensive testing experience and knowledge about the project, some elements may be accepted faster and put into implementation. Ultimately, the client receives a reliable report on an ongoing basis, and the implementation of the project within a specified time is less at risk.
Obstacles that may arise in this working model
The most common fear associated with entrusting work to people who carry out several jobs is too many responsibilities. Fear of possible failure and its consequences from the client often covers up the previously mentioned advantages. Another indicated problem is the extended duration of individual tasks and the frequent need to jump between them. Challenges can also arise at the managerial level. Inadequate delegation of tasks and too many of them can translate into overtime. In the long run, such a situation negatively affects an employee's motivation and reduces the time he or she should spend learning new skills. Another danger is the mentality of the employee, who may feel that he or she is doing a lot of things, but really nothing specific. Too many responsibilities can also negatively affect the sense of responsibility for a specific area of work. The result can be an overloaded employee who, having only partial responsibility for a particular scope of work, will feel that he or she is not fulfilling his or her duties properly, and will then lose motivation.
All these cases can have a huge impact on the reliable and efficient implementation of the project. A particular challenge to the proper implementation of is the near-term deadline. At a time when an employee has to perform two roles on a project, there may be a temptation to perform tasks at a low level, just to get the product to the customer. It doesn't take much imagination to know that a product made in this way will be of low quality, and may create even more problems in the future when a decision is made to expand it or change specific features.
Does working in two different positions in IT have a future?
This is an interesting direction for employees to develop new skills in a comfortable environment. Properly considered, such a work model can prove to be a clear competitive advantage for many companies. Nevertheless, you need to keep your hand on the pulse to avoid situations in which the presence of a multi-skilled employee becomes a problem that projects the outcome of the project. With an eye on delivering top-quality projects, more emphasis is now being placed on developing employees within a single position. This allows us to achieve mastery in a particular field and have a specialized workforce to deliver the best solutions to our clients. Employees who know their exact scope of work are better able to meet deadlines and better able to meet customer expectations. However, it remains to be seen in what direction the IT industry will go in a few years and whether the presence of employees with multiple competencies will not be standard in project teams. One thing is certain, taking care of employee development and arousing motivation to work are factors that significantly affect the comfort level in an organization. This is also an advantage from the perspective of the client, who, when entrusting his project, expects professionalism and relevant skills from the service provider.
Example of the activities of a multi-skilled in the Railwaymen project
In one of Railwaymen's recent projects for a fintech client, our colleague Milena had the opportunity to share QA and Team Lead duties. FreshPay is an application we are working on that allows accountants in the UK to conveniently calculate payroll. Thanks to Milena's vast experience gained as a Quality Assurance Specialist, the work on designing the application went very smoothly. All testing issues were resolved smoothly, which translated into faster acceptance of the project stage. What's more, Milena's activities in the two areas complemented each other, so that the client can be sure that his tool is properly tested and the project itself is properly coordinated.
Milena, QA Team Lead
“Having competencies in various fields allows me to better understand the project and speed up certain processes. With my experience as a QA, I am able to see problems that are often not seen by people who have not worked in this position. This reduces the time to complete tasks, plus it's a great opportunity for me to grow as a person and combine my skills on one project.”
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