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How IT Leaders can thrive despite great expectations

Author: Nick Hunter & Michael Meyer

Published date: 2020/03

Marvin Meyer Syto3xs06f U Unsplash

The expectations on IT from business leaders are greater than ever before, with companies expecting instantly scalable solutions, bullet-proof stability and impenetrable systems, all whilst needing to provide business users with first-class services. In many businesses we talk to, all of this is demanded, whilst needing to squeeze budgets to make them go further. 

Whilst technological advancements can solve some of these challenges, IT leaders are finding it difficult to find people who can perform multiple roles within their teams or people who have the expertise on the latest technologies to implement them, and then take them into BAU support. 

Finding available talent with strong skills in serverless and Cloud technology, DevOps and Cyber Security amongst others has always been a challenge, but combine this
with unemployment being at its lowest rate for over 40 years and a reluctance for some to move jobs within uncertain economic conditions then we are seeing companies struggling more than ever to attract the people they need. 

We are frequently being asked by businesses about what they can do to alleviate some of the pressure on their existing teams and attract the best people.

Here are our tops tips for success in these challenging conditions:

 1. Consider outsourcing certain services to specialist providers

If you are looking for niche skills then there will always be a 3rd party with the resource to help you. Whilst often more ‘expensive’ than having a person within your business as a specialist, there are additional benefits like not having a single point of failure by going down this route. 

Many people with experience in the latest technologies work with consultancy or MSPs, so if you cannot attract these people to your business, engage them differently.

2. Use contractors to fill the gap, and upskill existing team members

Whilst contracting in the UK has been affected by the changes to the off-payroll working rules (IR35), there are still huge benefits to having highly-skilled contractors as part of your strategy. People providing expertise through their Personal Services Companies can add huge value as they require no training, minimal ongoing support/guidance, and many will help train a permanent team member for when they are no longer required. It is also not as expensive to engage a contractor as you might think.

 

3. Partner with a specialist agency, and work together to find the right people

Okay, obviously we are going to say this as a specialist agency, but the reality is, our job is to know who these people are and what will attract them. 

As specialist recruiters, we spend a large proportion of our time ‘talent pooling’. This is where we identify highly skilled candidates with niche skill sets, so when our clients need these people we are ready. Pro-active recruiters in a niche market will be extremely important during these times of candidate-shortages.

 

4. Offer something different (but actually do it!)

Remote working is great but is now being seen as the norm rather than a benefit. The same goes for high basic salaries. If you want to attract, and importantly retain the best people then you need to offer something more unique or attractive. We are seeing some businesses offering unlimited holiday, share-options/profit-share schemes, complete work flexibility and time to play with the very latest technologies to keep their skills at the forefront of the market. The critical part of anything offered is that you stick to it. All too many times we see candidates offered the world, but the reality is very different. 

With the pressure on IT departments to deliver outstanding results not going to go away, and almost zero chance of being given unlimited funds to find solutions, businesses must think creatively about how to attract the best talent, whilst being flexible about how this talent is engaged.

 

TLDR: Those who are working on the basis of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix’ will be left miles behind in the delivery of high-performing IT systems to enable business growth, and the ability to attract and retain the best people to their business.