Straight Talk on Project Management

IT skills shortage

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IT skills shortage solved aas if by magic

“Why CIOs and project managers need to better understand each other’s turf” is an interesting article from Bill Siwicki, Managing Editor of Healthcare IT News that really got me thinking.

The piece is naturally centred around healthcare IT but really highlights a growing concern across most sectors of – skills shortages in IT Project Management.

The thrust of the article is that while it is accepted that a talent gap exists very little is being done to address it.

Richard Verrill from Enterprise Resource Performance Inc, quoted by Healthcare IT News says, “CIOs and CTOs are saying they are having problems finding qualified people, the fact is they are not making the investments they need to train and develop people…They are crying, ‘Poor me, I cannot find all the people I need to do all the projects I have.’ But they are not investing the resources to address the need.”

Verrill’s comments are interesting and it is a problem not just for healthcare IT.

I hear CIOs saying this kind of thing routinely in most sectors I work with. Furthermore, worldwide many IT Projects are failing due to lack of available, appropriately trained talent but is it the responsibility of CIOs to train individual talent to meet their specific industry needs?

Training can be expensive and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to retain your talent once you have trained them to exactly fit your requirement. This has been the experience of many CIOs who have gone down this route. Frustrating isn’t it? Investing in filling a skills gap at your firm only to end up plugging the same gap at your competitors!

However, if you don’t “up-skill” your workforce then your business will not move forward and that means you’ll actually be moving backwards in comparison with your competitors! Plus, the untrained talent that do stay with you won’t be bringing you their full potential – so what’s the point!?

Many businesses offer training with agreements that employees will have to stay with the firm for a set period of time or have to pay back a percentage of the cost of the training themselves. Of course, there is nothing to stop your competitor from offering to pay this back as part of their offer when they headhunt your people – cheaper to pay a percentage of training costs as part of a compensation package than all of them yourself! This way your rival gets the benefit of your training investment for a fraction of the cost and without any downtime while training takes place.

Others make the training as bespoke as possible reducing the transferrable skills potential. Textbook based courses with little specific relevance to your business are sidelined in favour of “hands on” training modules that applying learning to actual, current, real-life business scenarios faced by your organisation. This is all well and good but many problems faced by IT Project Managers are not localised just to your firm so you could end up cutting your nose off to spite your face.

Other firms have opted for hiring in already upskilled contractors instead of training their in-house talent. There is a danger that you can become over-reliant on contractors and several who have gone down this route have found themselves locked into contracts that are inflexible in practical terms. Also, management of disparate providers and vendors can be a headache worse than losing trained up staff to your rivals!

There is an alternative when you need access to fully skilled and trained talent.

The Project Management as a Service market offers a complete range of Project Management services, from provision of skilled individuals to full Programme Management Office (PMO) often with no net increase in your overall portfolio costs as with the right partner you can access this talent resource flexibly on a scalable, real-time need basis.

This can help you maximise your project success and improve your IT Project Delivery and not just because you have access to adequately skilled talent, just when you need them. A partner who really gets to know you and your business will identify assessments, governance and tools (as well as the necessary people) to improve your delivery capability and performance.

Many businesses use the Project Management as a Service market to complement their in-house team and I’ve noticed that in most cases it motivates and improves the performance of the staff head count. Talent hired in this manner tend to be rather dynamic in nature with a “get in, get the gold and get out” attitude and that can rub off and influence the mood and culture of your Project Management team.

IT Project Management is a business critical skill. In his article Bill Siwicki says that as the majority of IT work now “is done through projects with cross-functional project teams that must be collaborative” and as such CIOs and Project Managers and CIOs need to better understand “the context they are working in.” He is right and the winners here may be the ones who address this first. CIOs can train Project Managers to meet the specific needs of their individual industries and in turn PMs must be more business case aligned in their approach than ever before.

Beyond this, though, each sector has a Project Management as a Service partner with their finger on the pulse of your industry combined with a knowledge of current IT Project management best practice ready to help fill any skills shortages. Again, the winners here may be the first to make that call.

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed

Source: Healthcare IT News