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Is GIS Staff Augmentation the Starting Block?

by Ryan on June 26, 2014

How do we afford a GIS Coordinator or how do we know who to hire? These are common questions throughout my travels.  As a former GIS Coordinator, I know the pros and cons to such a position. GIS is no longer just a duty to fulfill in a local government. Having GIS has become a necessity today and it is not going away anytime soon. 

With staff augmentation, a local government can make that comfortable transition from having just a couple GIS layers to having a full-time staff member and more.
 
Before getting into a few real life examples of staff augmentation in GIS, it should be defined. The concept of staff augmentation is a basic concept of identifying a need in an organization, but the demand for a 40 hour a week full time person is not necessary or in most cases not affordable. With staff augmentation, a community gets the knowledge and access of an experienced GIS person at half the cost. According to a recent survey from the Iowa State Association of Counties, the state average salary for a GIS Coordinator is $51,000 PLUS benefits which can sometimes be another $20,000.

When most GIS systems are started up by an often less experience staff member, many hours and mistakes are wasted in the implementation process. The model for starting a GIS is already there if the properly experienced person is there to guide the process. This is where we see value in this business model for a client to use staff augmentation. Staff Augmentation also develops that bridge for when a County/City is ready to hire its’ own full-time staff member. The growing pains of developing a system from the ground up will already be taken care of, which saves the community thousands of dollars on an annual basis. 
 
Delaware County, Iowa encountered a unique situation back in 2010. The Delhi Dam fell victim to heavy rains and was not able to hold on any longer. As many as 700 homes were destroyed. From the perspective of the County, boundaries were destroyed and some historical records were not as accurate as was thought. Significant changes in landscape altered or destroyed physical evidence that was used to describe land ownership. With little time to settle disputes and boundaries, Delaware County snapped into action with the assistance of staff augmentation from Schneider Geospatial to update the GIS to better reflect the current legal description of land ownership to aid in insurance claims and how the County and land owners could move forward with improvements. Insurance companies were able to react more quickly because of the county’s excellent GIS response. While many of the physical boundaries and buildings were destroyed, the cataloged data that was available to anyone within the rebuilding process made for an excellent reference. Ground crews had references to start with when using the historical GIS data.
 
In Shelby County, Iowa, there has been increasing pressure to find ways to save money. After their GIS Associate left for a career change, Shelby was faced with making a decision: hire a new full-time person with benefits or seek other options. That other option was staff augmentation. Right away, Schneider Geospatial came in and helped integrate GIS from the County, City, and Utility Company.  Achieving this feat is becoming a bigger priority as more communities get involved with GIS. Schneider Geospatial was able to assign specific people to GIS projects of certain expertise which ensured the job was done right. Also, Schneider Geospatial oversaw implementation of a new Online Permitting system offered from Schneider Geospatial. Implementing the new Permitting system has proven to be valuable by saving costs on less paper and a more organized approach to managing the permits.
 
Schneider Geospatial’s Staff Augmentation program has helped communities do more with less and removed the concerns about affordability and retaining technical staff members. This program continues to grow more and more popular and is becoming the way many local government are improving services while reducing costs.

Learn More.