The aim of this blog is to highlight the specific challenges affecting the IT industry and how organisations need to setup their foundations through the SDLC with Requirements, IT policy, process, delivery, measurement and continuous improvement and not just tactically focus on training some people, certifying them, and then hoping they can deliver successful business outcomes using their IT investment.
The Information Technology (IT) sector has been experiencing a significant shortage of skilled workers for quite some time now. A recent survey by UK recruiter Hays to 13,000 employers and workers in the UK found that 94% of them faced a lack of talent last year, up from 89% the year before.
This shortage has become a major concern for companies and organisations that rely on technology to drive their business forward.
The reasons behind this shortage are diverse; such as lack of skilled and qualified personnel, significant increase in demand without supply of such skills keeping pace and a plethora of people who frankly are imposters doing damage in delivering software projects.
Here are 5 common mistakes made by IT organisations trying to tackle this shortage and some reasons why a working with a partner could be an ideal solution to your problems:
1: Training Courses
Sending your staff on a training course and bootcamps and training people “skills” in using a tool and then letting those individuals loose in your organisation as the new ‘expert’. There seems to be a thought that some simple certifications, tools training, and training courses will solve the skills shortage, whereas in reality, staff need on-the-job learning, mentoring by experienced people, industry experience and problem-solving expertise, supported by a delivery process that has been tried and tested many times.
This is where working with an IT partner could help. At Infuse, we focus part of our Infuse academy and apprentice training on problem solving IT problems using the tools you can find. This provides a more rounded, capable engineer who understands the constants and variables in any situation. Furthermore, while an organisation may only engage with an Infuse team member, it is via that team member they get access to all of Infuse, its principals, partners, network and experience built up over 21-years.
2: Downgrading Job Titles but promoting the responsibilities to lower costs
We have seen a number of organisations downgrade roles and subsequent salaries in the hope they will get the right person cheaper. Quite simply, that is a false economy. Advertising a CEO job as a Business Manager will not get you a CEO for cheaper, neither will hiring a Test Lead get you a Test Manager or Programme Test Manager.
Downgrading the title and keeping the roles and responsibilities of a higher position means you will simply fail in your expectations. Fitting the right role to the right job title and paying the going rates will generally pay dividends in the long run as you don’t need to do it again and will learn faster which will ultimately be cheaper.
3: Focusing on price if going offshore
Considering budget constraints and staff shortages people have then gone offshore, this is a perfectly viable option and can work well. But there are 2 things one should be aware of:
- Offshore vs onshore comparison is not always equivalent. Let me explain, many of the offshore vendors leverage a resource to do one discipline very well and a team to do the multi-discipline a locally based individual. This is not specifically due to talent but in the way offshore teams have been built on prescriptive process and practices combined with the brain drain to the West; this has also been going on for 30/40+ years and therefore the shift to more Agile practices in reality is difficult for the local companies to deploy who focus on cost, prescriptive process and large scale and not really innovative delivery.
- Focussing solely on the rate you're paying is not the cost saving; the focus should be on paying the right company to provide the capability with engineers providing a business service at the right price (i.e. what is it worth to your business to do this right, not cheaply). While an offshore resource can enable you to save more than 50% there’s no point in saving 50% if the person doesn't have the right skillset for the job; re: my last point on equivalence. Furthermore, there are cultural challenges; for example, in India staying a multi-disciplined engineering expert for 25+ years is not as prestigious as being a manager. This gets to a situation where the manager is leading a team of engineers with limited ability and this in turn perpetuates the issue at scale. Anyway, this is a complex but true. Furthermore, this is not helped by the ongoing brain drain with more attractive experience, financial rewards, lifestyles and opportunities globally as well. So, to understand the costs, you need to understand the real costs!
At Infuse we have an offshore team of engineers who love engineering with relevant experience, working with organisations like KCL, UCL, QMUL, Anglia Ruskin and the University of Bradford. This comes with knowledge of H.E specific systems (like Tribal SITS and Moodle) and the experience of working on real life projects within the sector and being rewarded handsomely for being an engineer as well as managing people. They cannot be separated!
4: Not getting the interview process right
When it comes to the interviewing process, there are a lot of imposters out there especially with the rewards on offer. To mitigate this, you will need to thoroughly assess and test during the process.
At Infuse we have a simple process, where 3 people all looking from a different perspective need to interview a candidate and unanimously agree independently. Those people need to own the quality and outcome of the interview. Since we have done this, we have not had to exit anyone in the probation process. With our partners, we are more than happy to sit down as one of the panel of interviewers, even for an internal hire at no cost even if you are not engaged with us.
5: Not seeking expert advice
You may have people with the hunger and aptitude but not the experience. They may have got top marks in their training but can’t tell you where they are in finishing a project or find bugs that are holding up your go live date. Of course, use your resources but do also consider working with an expert partner to build the capability for the medium-to-long term who have oodles of experience, process and capability to mentor your juniors.
Think of the investment as long-term, it takes 3-months from a standing start to get a junior contributing and 2-years to get them delivering business value. After that your organisation can then drive down the reliance on the partner.
At UCL, Infuse worked with them to build a QA, Functional Test and Performance Test frameworks that enables them to deliver their Agile Projects using our Continuous Test and Assurance approach. This enables their team to reduce their regression testing by over 95%.