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How to win the IT infrastructure and operations talent war

Sharon Florentine | Dec. 13, 2013
The future of your organisation rests in the hands of your Infrastructure and Operations talent. Gartner lays out a battle plan to win the war for those tech pros.

Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) staffing is both your organisation's greatest asset and greatest monetary investment, says John Rivard, research director for Infrastructure and Operations at Gartner.

It's on the shoulders of these folks that the future of your organisation rests, and if you're not doing everything you can to recruit and retain the best of the best, you could be at a competitive disadvantage, he says.

"I believe there's going to be a battle over the future of your organization, and I&O is at the crossroads," Rivard said. "Your best employees have a greater, more positive impact on your organisation than your best customers," he says.

Tactical IT Hiring Doesn't Work
With voluntary turnover back to pre-recession levels, it's critical to make sure you're doing everything you can to retain your top talent and recruit the best of the best, Rivard says.

The first step is to have a strategy, and not just rely on "tactical" hiring, he says, meaning you're just replacing employees without considering the long-term strategic importance of their skills, or planning for future growth and development.

"Every organisation we talk to is having these I&O turnover issues, and we have to make them understand that tactical hiring is shortsighted. You have to have a long-term plan, strategize for the next 18 or 24 months at least," Rivard says. "Just saying, 'OK, we lost an Oracle DBA, now we have to hire another Oracle DBA to replace them' isn't going to get you anywhere," he says.

Assess Where Talent and Skills Gaps Exist
Your organisation must also look honestly at its current talent and its needs and assess where the holes are, Rivard says. This involves not only looking at the current vacancies, but also determining what skills are needed at the technical, process, and service management levels, too, he says.

"Once you've done that, you also must prioritize the 'hits,'" Rivard says. "When are vacancies in certain areas going to create pain points, and what will be the business impact? What are the most critical areas you need to address that will cause you to miss business targets?" he says.

Once these areas are identified, Rivard says, assign responsibility for addressing them to members of your team. The most logical way to do this is to have front-line managers take responsibility for filling those gaps in the departments that will be affected, he says. In some cases, Rivard says, identifying areas where outsourcing can help will be part of your action plan.

"Your staffing strategy doesn't have to be 100 percent internally focused," Rivard says. "But for most of the organizations we work with, 65 percent of them will keep I & O in-house. The key is to identify where you're strapped for resources, and evaluate what you can augment from outside sources," he says.


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