How IT resourcers have created their own inhibitors

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Due to the current shortage of IT-resources in the Western world, one might think the resourcing problem can’t be solved. However, many organisations have created their own inhibitors. They made the job unnecessarily difficult for their own resourcers and external service providers.

The guidelines below will help to get rid of the inhibitors.

1. Plan ahead

Do your vacancies use wordings like ‘urgently needed’ or ‘start asap’? This is an indication of poor planning. Skilled resources aren’t instantly available. Even the most skilled person needs time to familiarise before becoming fully productive.

Start now to build a resource plan for the year ahead and execute the plan.

Your demand is unpredictable? Your users, sales people or clients don’t inform you what they will need? This may be partially true, but some part could be made predictable by in-depth conversations with your users, sales people or clients. Plan the predictable part and make best guesses for the unpredictable part – based on your experience in the past. If you persist, the accuracy of your predictions will improve over time.

2. Drop unnecessary requirements

Many vacancies contain requirement that aren’t really needed to fulfil the job. Most common unnecessary requirements:

Language: do you require all your IT-staff to be fluent in German, French or Dutch? Most IT staff speak English. If well organised, only a few team members need to communicate with the environment – ‘product owners’ in Agile/scrum terminology.
Location: Do you require all your IT-staff to work at your office – probably in a low availability/ high labour cost area? Why? Even a small organisation could utilise a team in a more attractive geography.
Skill list. Do you require your new IT-staff to be familiar with all your programming languages, software tools and libraries? Why? Most of the tools can be learned within a short time. Restrict the list of tools to the ones that really need a long experience.

3. Choose the right locations

Choose your delivery locations based on availability of skilled resources, labour cost and a culture that matches your organisation culture.

Be aware of the differences. For instance: India is more process oriented, Philippines more customer oriented, Eastern Europe more technology oriented and Latin America more creative.

Of course some staff needs to be close to the rest of your organisation, but not all – if properly organised.

Large organisations could build their own offshore/nearshore delivery unit, smaller organisations could use IT service providers abroad to recruit, host and manage a team.

Tip: there’s more than India and Romania. Why not consider Belarus, Moldova, Croatia, Vietnam or Portugal? You may ask me for criteria and trusted partners.

To mitigate the risk of local issues (decreasing availability, increasing cost, political instability) more than one remote location is recommended. Larger IT providers having offices in multiple locations, could take this worry away.

4. Fly-in versus remote working

Flying-in skilled IT-staff from abroad is an attractive solution for the short term.

No need to adapt your organisation
Communications with the new hired staff won’t be an issue
Ideal to quickly build relations with your remote staff
However, on the longer term remote working is more attractive:

Higher availability of skilled staff
No work permits, housing of travel cost
50% lower cost because of salary and tax levels
More flexibility in case of fluctuating demand, sickness, attrition
Often free office facilities and people management
Communications is often an issue for distributed organisations. They could be solved if you

Choose the right locations that matches your organisation culture,
Invest in communication facilities (broad band, large high resolution screens),
Organise it properly, for instance by shared daily standup sessions (Agile/scrum),
Allow your key staff to build relations by face-to face meeting at least twice a year. Remember you can’t build relations over email or Skype.

5. Sell the job

Many vacancies still contain just requirements, like in the years that there was little demand and high availability. But times have changed. Even when your target audience is reading your permanent or temporary vacancy, they will be looking for information about the attractiveness of your organisation, culture, location, teams, technology, office facilities, social events, career perspectives and labour conditions.

You need to actively communicate this information to you target group, for instance by testimonials of your current employees, pictures and video messages explaining the attractively of your vacancy.

The same information needs to be shared with your recruitment and IT service partners to attract the best resources.

6. Hire juniors

Your organisation definitely needs seniors for demanding jobs. Juniors won’t be productive from the beginning and distract the seniors from their jobs. However, this is short term thinking. Graduates appear to become productive after a few months, if properly guided. After one year they will be fully adapted to your organisation and deliver great value at relatively low cost.

Add as many juniors as your organisation can handle. Allow your suppliers to do the same.

7. Hire girls

In some Western European countries software engineering is considered as a ‘male job’. Research has shown that female software engineers are – by average – more accurate, better communicating, more social, less complaining and staying longer.

You think you can’t find female software engineers? Good news: in Eastern Europe and Asia the percentage of female software engineers is much higher. I know companies having over 50% female software engineers.

8. Control attrition

All the above will be of little value if you’re unable to keep your employees . 5 to 10% annual attrition is considered to be healthy, lower attrition may inhibit the necessary refreshment, higher attrition means your investment is leaking away.

How to reduce unwanted high attrition? Organise regular job control meetings, employee satisfaction surveys and exit interviews and analyse the results. Your people will tell you what’s wrong. Don’t forget to solve the problems. In most cases management attention, training facilities score higher in the satisfaction/dissatisfaction rank than the salary level.

Menzo de Muinck Keizer

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