A Drive to Quality

Published: 9 October 2012

Companies rightly have a strong desire to hire the best resources attainable. The rise in demand for talented IT delivery managers has been constant and continual. Market forces directly mean that the best rise to the top and command a premium. Simple economic principles mean that marked increased demand for specialist skills generates two reactions. Firstly, a short term price rise, followed by a time lagged step up in supply. Healthy supply, market forces and commoditisation eventually level out price inflation. There are many examples of this in the last decade alone; the ERP boom which generated the proliferation of SAP configuration, ABAP and Basis skills, the move to modular CRM solutions which buoyed the demand for ‘best in class’ Siebel skills, and perhaps most notably the global impact of the dot.com boom upon the supply of Java based skills.

The economic uncertainty of recent years has seen the supply of many IT skills largely over run demand. When supply is abundant, price becomes a lesser differentiator and quality fast becomes king. This blog is inspired by a succession of new clients turning to us to source talent, and common to all of them was a single phrase; “I don’t just need a ‘X’, I need a good ‘X’ ’’.

While it is reassuring that we are associated with the drive to recruit only the best, I have a bitter sweet sensation that this is a sad reflection of the market. As ever IT is oft the first place for the cost reduction axe to fall with obvious implications for project aspirations. Workforce churn inevitably accompanies business constraint and as such there is a knock-on effect to the quality of talent that a business can attract.

All of this is beginning to feel pretty downbeat. And as if to compound this, the recent 2012 CIO Council produced stats that 36% of all CIO’s think changing customer demand is the biggest issue for IT leaders, but 23% think recruiting the best people the biggest issue. As ever the right/wrong people issue can have manifest impacts upon business performance. The potential silver lining to this is that the marked drive to quality suggests that businesses are now focusing upon the returns from getting things ‘right’, rather than simply securing the lowest possible cost of delivery. This can only imply an underlying positivity from business leaders who are again willing to invest for growth, rather than cutting costs for survival.

Matt Cockbill is a Partner, and Head of Technology & EMI Practices for Berwick Partners. #CIO #IT #Leadership

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