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Digital in football: how to resource your dream team

Fri 23rd Oct 2015 | IT & Technology

I’m often asked when talking with colleagues, contacts across football, recruitment agencies or potential clients "what is the best way to resource my digital team?”

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer as the diverse nature of the industry means that what works for some, may be a world away for others and a position they can only dream of.   

But, in reality, is an appropriately resourced digital team in football that unattainable?

Personally, I don't think so. There are many, many important factors to consider, not least budgets, budgets and budgets. However, if you can persuade your CEO or management team to give you the green light to add to your team, where do you start?  Here is a list of helpful tips and hints.

Appraise what resources are there already

You might already have the answer down the corridor. Take a good look around the club you work in and identify potential ‘digital resource assets’. It might simply be case of minor re-structuring, joining up priorities with other teams or simply re-visiting marketing, communications and digital strategies. It can work to everyone’s benefit if approached sensibly.

When recruiting, make sure the candidate fits

If you opt to go into the very crowded and competitive recruitment marketplace, then be aware. Make sure you appoint a candidate who possesses the skills and ambition required for the role but also someone who will easily fit into your existing team. CV’s paint many different pictures and what can look good on paper, can often be the opposite in reality.

I would also recommend, given the fast-paced and unique environment of the football industry, opting for at least 12 months’ experience for all junior positions or three to five years' in a similar role/organisation for senior vacancies. Additionally, if your team is small, you need to ensure they are comfortable pitching in; and, conversely, if you have the luxury of a larger outfit, they must be satisfied on focusing on a particular discipline.

Consider external over internal

Appointing internal resources is not always the answer. Look to your nominated digital agency or supplier.  They will have a wealth of experience within their ranks and will be able to add real value and expertise to your team on a part or full time basis.

This is also a consideration when considering product development. Don't stall on your plans because you don't have the internal resources to manage them. If you pick the right partner, they will offer support you and leave you to deal with the day-to-day management.  

Benchmark, but don't copy

You need to make sure you are properly resourced, so it should help to take a look around at your peers and competitors and see how they are dealing with similar challenges. But don't be tempted to copy them. Resource as you see fit. Nobody understands your club like you do. That said, you may require some help or guidance, so don't be afraid to ask.

Don't try and do it all at once

The temptation as digital takes more of a front seat in the football marketing, communications and engagement mix is to try and fix all your resource problems overnight. Be smart.Introduce a resourcing strategy and implement it over a 12-18 month period in line with your digital road map. If you get it right, it can pay dividends. If you get it wrong, it can cause on-going headaches

Timing can be everything

Timing is clearly another consideration. Naturally, the end of the season has always been a preferred period for boosting resources, but I strongly believe that to get the very best out of an individual, you need to see them operate when holidays are over, everyone is back behind their desks and the fixture list is in full flow. So, try and move your recruitment later in the year if it works for you and your team.

Mark Rowan is Sports Consultant at digital agency Rippleffect and previously headed up media, communications and digital at Everton Football Club.

Posted by: Aaron Gourley

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