IT Staffing Issues Affecting Deployment of Emerging Technology

By Robert Teal, CCP, CBP

There is growing evidence that shortages in qualified IT staffs are impairing the ability of some organizations to implement new and emerging technologies and thus hamper growth and productivity.

In the July 13, 2010 edition of CIO Update, interviews conducted by the Robert Half Technology firm found that 64% of corporate CIO’s surveyed indicated that shortfalls in IT staff levels affected their organizations’ abilities to deploy “innovative or emerging technologies.”

In a July 2, 2010 article in Device Magazine, reporting on HP’s acquisitions of Palm, it was noted that several of Palm’s “key” development staff members have left Palm to join other organizations due to IT staffing issues within HP.

Computerworld reported in a June 9, 2010 article that IT staffing firms are filing suit over the government’s new H-1B rules.  “Visa workers make up as much as 90% of workers assigned by the staffing firms involved in the lawsuit, filed in federal court here.  The lawsuit says the USCIS actions could cost the IT staffing industry some $100 million in business annually.”

Steve Ballmer, an online journalist with Forbes and author of the October 2009 article titled “Innovation And Recovery: Information Technology is the Key to Productivity Growth “argues that “today, the connection between IT and productivity growth is stronger than ever.”

The US Department of Labor (DoL) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in its Spring 2007 Occupational Outlook Quarterly (Table 2) that by 2014, an additional 1.3 million new and replacement IT workers will be needed to fill vacancies.  

Recruiting the right technical talent takes on an entirely new meaning as we, optimistically, continue the modest recovery seen over the last few months; however, it has become increasingly more difficult to find and retain that talent.  As organizations are increasingly ramping up their research, development, and deployment teams, the search for talent with the “right stuff” will be pursued by everyone, including your top competitors.   This pursuit of talent has the potential to create a self-escalating feeding frenzy as organizations seek to snatch the talent they need for that next new application.  Certainly, off-shoring has many great potential benefits, but it certainly has the equal opportunity for pitfalls.

If you do not already have a selection model in place, here are some tips you may find useful:

1. Does the candidate have the “demonstrated” talent you need right now?
2. Will the candidate fit into your organization, culturally?
3. Will the candidate strengthen your bench; will they add depth and breadth?  Will this person add to, rather than subtract from your research, development, and deployment team?
4. Is this person professionally stable enough to manage and fulfill their commitment to the project?
5. Have you clearly defined the performance expectations for the project or assignment?
6. Have you defined your candidate search to include a larger geographically area, use of social media, local and national professional organizations, a talent recruiter? 
7. Have you tapped into your current staff for referrals?
8. Have you developed an interview model that will allow you to include the candidate’s manager and peers with whom they will be working? 
9. Are the interview questions capable of assessing the candidate’s skills?
10. Have you considered using a “tandem” or group approach for some of the interviewing?
11. How valid are the candidate’s references; what candidate is going to give you anything BUT a positive reference?
12. Psychological analysis, personality profiles, and psychometric testing have little validity expect when used in a highly controlled manner and by a highly trained credentialed professional.

Robert Teal, CCP, CBP, is a guest contributor and author of the blog Trends in Total Employee Rewards. Mr. Teal is a Senior Human Resource leader whose expertise includes: Salary Plan Design, Job Evaluation, Job Pricing, Vendor/Carrier Negotiation, Cost Control Strategies,  Benefits Communication, HRIS/Payroll Selection/Implementation, and Workflow/Process Improvement.

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