​Large Corporate Transactions: How to Staff Up for Success

Over the last two decades, the financial sector in Scotland has witnessed many large-scale corporate actions. Acquisitions, mergers, outsourcing, insourcing, transformational business wins – they have combined to fundamentally reshape companies and the way they do business.

With more high profile consolidation set for this year, the role of temporary and contract staff in large-scale corporate projects is just as important as ever.

In this article, we look at the different approaches used in resourcing major projects. We outline the pros and cons of each, and identify the important factors in ensuring a project is delivered successfully.

Three routes worth considering

Whether taking on a transformative new client, outsourcing back office functions or embedding a new acquisition or merger, there are broadly three approaches to staffing:

1. Utilise existing staff 

2. Move existing staff to full-time, dedicated project roles and backfill their business-as-usual positions 

3. Recruit a specialist contract team to manage the project  

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

1. Utilise existing staff


  • High engagement, high attention and high commitment. The people involved have a close and long-term interest in completing the project successfully 
  • The project upskills your own employees 
  • The people and expertise will remain in the company after the project is complete. Subject matter experts are available post implementation 
  • At first glance, it is the cheapest option 


  • Inherent danger of spreading your resources too thin. This can impact negatively on business-as-usual operations 
  • Some or many of the people involved will be inexperienced in dealing with the intricacies and challenges of a large-scale project 
  • Both of the above can lead to demoralised staff and increased attrition rates 

2. Move existing staff to full-time, dedicated project roles and backfill their business-as-usual positions


  • The same advantages gained from utilising your existing staff 
  • However, option 2 incurs more expense, as business-as-usual roles have to be back filled 


  • Some or many of the people involved will be inexperienced in dealing with the intricacies and challenges of a large-scale project 
  • Business-as-usual operations could suffer through the recruitment of inexperienced professionals 
  • After the excitement of the project, individuals may be reluctant to return to their business-as-usual roles 

3. Recruit a specialist contract team to manage the project


  • You will be hiring people who have a track record in successful project delivery 
  • In Scotland, you have a local pool of talent readily available who have deep experience of large corporate projects 
  • Implementation times will be quicker, driven by professionals focused on delivery 
  • Business-as-usual operations will remain relatively unimpaired 
  • Project team will be more flexible geographically and in terms of working patterns 
  • Clearer separation between the client (your company) and the supplier (the project team), and in turn better accountability 


  • Once the project is completed, it is likely that the skills and experience of the team leave the company 
  • Arguably, it is the most expensive approach, although this is mitigated somewhat by the anticipated increase in delivery time 

The best solution?

In reality, the best approach tends to be a mix of all three: a blend of internal company expertise and external contractor experience.


This may involve business-as-usual staff moving to full-time project roles, but the numbers are much less than in option 2. 

This hybrid approach retains most of the advantages of options 1, 2 and 3 while mitigating many of the downsides. For example, with contractors working side-by-side with internal staff, key skills and experience inherent to the success of the project are retained within the company. This is usually through osmosis – a gradual assimilation of skills and experience – rather than formal training and development.

Hire in haste, repent at leisure

Whether you opt for option 3 or the recommended hybrid approach, the main factor in success is not so much in choosing to use contractors but choosing your contractors wisely.

Often, when projects have gone awry - over budget, delayed or abandoned – it is because companies have entered the contract market with quantity rather than quality in mind. They have simply thrown bodies at the project.

As a corporate, you will be spending a significant amount of money employing contractors. It is better to invest in one market-leading expert rather than two journeymen.

To govern is to choose

Next time your company is faced with delivering a large-scale corporate transaction, whether it’s a merger, acquisition or transformational business win – think carefully about the various ways you can deploy and employ staff to deliver it successfully.

Being mindful at the outset of the different approaches and their respective advantages and disadvantages can go a long way in anticipating and therefore avoiding many of the problems experienced by your predecessors.

And if entering the contract market on a significant scale, choose quality over quantity.

With over 15 years’ recruitment experience, Mike Stirton has worked at the heart of most large-scale corporate transactions across Scotland’s financial sector. He has provided temporary and contract professionals for many significant projects, including mergers, acquisitions, outsourcing, insourcing and transformative client wins.


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