Is there a staffing crisis that will change the face of IT?

Right now staffing accounts for more than 30% of the average IT budget – so it’s little wonder that headcount is always under scrutiny as companies look efficiencies and opportunities to manage costs.  However, there is an alternative view…

In a blog posted early in 2011, Gartner’s Dave Cappuccio explored the issue in detail, asking whether IT staffing is heading for a crisis, or whether it is an opportunity in disguise.

He characterises IT staff skill sets as the T in IT.  Fleshing out the analogy, he used the vertical bar of the T to represent an IT resource’s technical skills – arguing that, too often, we judge the worth of a resource according to the depth of this vertical bar. Cappuccio believes that view is erroneous, and points out that the most critical projects resources are those with strong technology-business links.

This link, he describes as ‘the cross bar in the T’ – he measures the strength of the resources based on the breadth of those linkages. He has a point – after all these are the resources that can deliver the greatest business impact, whilst these roles often have a lower churn rate than those depending entirely on a person’s technical skills.

Cappuccio’s view was implicitly supported by a study published in MIS Quarterly, which focused on IT investments.  It found that investment in projects that create revenue significantly enhance profitability – far more effectively than they reducing costs.

With both these points of view in mind, it seems clear that the face of IT resource is changing fast.  IT investments that drive revenue and profitability demand IT resources with a broader cross bar in their T  - the deep vertical bar is becoming less important.

This change in emphasis is being accelerated by new delivery models for technical resources, such as remote infrastructure management.  Today IT departments can access cost effective, yet vital, technical resources as required.  For instance, a business can acquire tier 3 SAN resource when needed – there is not necessarily and need to retain such a high level resource on the payroll.  The same applies to fully managed cloud services.

The point is these specialised, highly technical resources represent the vertical bar of Cappuccio’s T.  The opportunity is to make use of more flexible resourcing models, which in turn enables the organisation to focus investments on resources that create revenue – the skills that form the cross bar of the T.

Tags Staffing, IT Staffing, Business Strategy

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