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How to avoid the coming productivity slump in IT


keithmacbeath.jpgBy Keith Macbeath, senior principal consultant with HP Software Professional Services


IT is going through a significant transition right now, and it’s creating skills gaps that can potentially have a big effect your organization’s productivity. Cloud, for instance, is driving a huge focus on automation, particularly in the area of operations, and so people who understand this are in demand. And systems of engagement (which I’ve written about previously), mean that enterprises are searching desperately for people who can build, say, Facebook apps. Big data is exploding as a trend in IT, but do you have the resources to exploit it? This shift in skills is happening now, but it’s going to be even more critical over the next few years.


This change in skills is something you need to get out in front of and manage. You don’t want to have to delay projects because you can’t get the skills, or be forced to go outside and spend huge amounts to get them. If you don’t start tracking and managing for skills now, you’ll be limiting your productivity and ability to compete in the future.


3 steps to managing skills

You want to be in the best possible position to have the right people at the right time. Getting to that position is a matter of resource management. You need to be able to look at your future demand for certain skill types and map that against your existing skills capacity.


As a consultant, I see this capability exercised rigorously in mature services organizations. So, for example, I know a global service organization that uses the resource management in our PPM product to formally manage and match skills and projects.


If you’re just starting to manage resources in this manner, here are three things you need to do to get started:


  • Create a skills model: Think about how you consume skills in the organization and create those categories and sets of skills.
  • Assign people to the model: Once you’ve created the skills model, everybody needs to be added and categorized with a skill attribute.
  • Assign skills to projects: When you’re standing up a project, put in the skills request as early as possible. As the project goes through approval, that demand can firm up, and you’ll have some ability to predict what your skills availability will be.

Keep in mind that anything to do with resources typically has a fairly long runway. The more you can see down the runway and see what you’re going to need the more likely you’re going to have it the moment you want it.


Adapting to a project-based world

Workforce trends mean that many of us are working more on projects and less on jobs. As an IT leader, it’s important to see this shift and manage for it. A project and portfolio management tool can manage the resource list on every project. It allows you to do demand management, so that when you set up a proposal you can define a skills request. And it allows you to look across the portfolio of all requests and see what skills are being requested, so you can predict future demand.


When you put a skill demand against a project, the people who are responsible for managing skills pools can see that and map it against the people they have with those skills. Then they can see where they are currently deployed, when they are expected to be available and if there are any expected shortages. You’ll also be able to track whether you need to leverage specialist skills outside the organization on a temporary project basis. Skills management means you can match people to projects more easily and efficiently: all of which is especially important to IT, because IT encompasses such a diverse set of skills.


Related links:


For more insights on the future of IT and how you can optimize IT performance to drive business results, subscribe to the Discover Performance ezine.

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