How to handle the IT skills shortage: architect your people

IT and technology are always going to be moving targets. The pace at which change takes place is furious compared to most industries. Technologies evolve and business objectives change. As a result, the skills required to get the job done must change, too. Finding perfect people who meet a laundry list of qualifications is a daunting task.

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IT and technology are always going to be moving targets. The pace at which change takes place is furious compared to most industries. Technologies evolve and business objectives change. As a result, the skills required to get the job done must change, too. Finding perfect people who meet a laundry list of qualifications is a daunting task.

IT Skills and People Architecture

Businesses understand the value of architecture when it comes to their objectives or their data or software, but most companies don't understand that architecting people is an equally important task. David Foote, CEO and cofounder of Foote Partners, says that what he dubs "people architecture" is what's needed to achieve your business goals.

As businesses grow so does complexity. Many IT departments are struggling to keep up because they can't find the people with the necessary IT skills. In the end, it always comes down to the people on your team. Even if you have the vision to know what needs to be done to transform your organisation, without the right talent backing you up, it will never come to fruition.

To be agile and successful, businesses need to assess and reassess their team's talent and skills with an eye to the future. The recent talent shortages in areas such as big data, analytics and mobile highlight the need for companies to use forethought when planning their hiring and retention strategies.

According to Foote, these are the major challenges facing senior IT executives and CIOs in regards to staffing and IT skills:

  • Constant skills gaps, difficulty hiring specialised workers with multidimensional skills and knowledge.
  • Inconsistency in job titles.
  • Tech gurus who don't want to be promoted into management roles.
  • Market pay moving at different rates for workers in the same grade (e.g., technologists vs. people managers vs. IT-business hybrids)
  • Shaky career paths and incentive plans that are no longer effective.
  • Job evaluation done poorly or not at all. Outdated and/or inaccurate job descriptions.
  • Compensation benchmarking is market-based vs. internal equity based.
  • Salary compression issues.
  • Managing for big growth: finding the best organisational models, staffing optimisation strategies and human capital practices to get there.
  • Convincing senior business management to invest dollars in substantial changes in IT workforce pay structures and budgets in order to execute predictably on strategic business initiatives.

With problems like these in the way of progress, you need to build a strategy that will bring new workers in the door and keep them happy, productive and engaged. This evolution is definitely a long-term strategy, but you've got to start somewhere. Here are some things you can do now to help begin the journey.

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