The CIO magazine story Ready, Aim, Hire offers seven tips for getting ahead of the curve in staffing for the expected economic recovery. But if budget constraints still make some of those impossible, you should use this time to strengthen outsourcing relations and restructure your existing team.Develop Relationships with Offshore ProvidersWhen the labor market tightens in the United States, you?ll be in a better position to take advantage of cheaper labor offshore if you've already established good working relationships with a short list of offshore providers and are confident they can do the work to your standards. In developing long-term relationships with a finite number of consultants, CitiStreet CIO Barry Strasnick made sure that some of them are geographically dispersed. This will allow him to get the expertise he needs while benefiting from better labor markets in other parts of the world. Such a strategy can yield significant savings. According a recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers survey of offshore best practices, companies typically save between 35 percent and 60 percent by going offshore, says PWC's Suresh Gupta.At NCR's Teradata division, CIO Steve Dippold is tightening relationships with his offshore providers. Although he first went offshore to get around the difficulties of recruiting and retaining domestic workers with legacy skills, now he says he's pulling offshore partners up the food chain. "I'm able to hand off more and more work with confidence," he says. Not only does this let him avoid maintaining fixed overhead to handle peaks and valleys of projects, it also means he won?t be forced to hire in the tight U.S. labor market if demand for IT services spikes with the rebound.Use the Downturn to RegroupIS organizations that haven't restructured in the last 12 months operate at an increased cost of at least 20 percent, asserts Linda Pittenger, president and CEO of People3, Gartner's HR consulting arm. Although Christian & Timbers recruiter Mark Lewis says the "doing more with less" theme of the last 18 months has in many cases meant layoffs, he notes that "ultimately most companies have found that they had significant pockets of waste they were able to eliminate without losing any productivity." But regrouping can also mean redirecting the efforts of your current staff to better meet post-recovery business needs. At CitiStreet, Strasnick foresees a huge need to integrate disparate systems to satisfy customer demand for real-time information. Although budgets are now constrained, he's preparing for the onslaught of demand for integration by lining up the tools and clarifying the methodologies the IT group will use when the recovery hits. For example, Strasnick says his group is moving more of its front-end code to reusable J2EE objects and is prioritizing which components of the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model are most relevant for the organization.Meanwhile, at Fidelity Investments in Boston, Kathy McGirr, senior vice president of talent, development and acquisition, is hanging on to her recruiting staff (which includes a "considerable number of tech recruiters") despite the economic downturn. As a result, the company will be better able to handle staffing needs when the recovery hits. In addition to implementing Recruitsoft Hiring Management System, a real-time, Web-based tool for tracking all transactions with job candidates, McGirr's team has restructured all recruiters into functional teams and has assigned people to a new group charged with "sourcing." The sourcing group identifies and cultivates desirable candidates who may not be actively in the job market, but would be a good fit for the organization when the right job comes up. "We're building pipelines against the day the turnaround happens," McGirr says. As People3's Pittenger says, "We don't want to go back to the world when one of my CIOs said, "Linda, if they have a pulse, I hire them." You don't have to go back to that world if you?re prepared."