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The Importance of Finding Skilled IT Staffers

Patrick Gates | | June 11, 2014

IT StaffersThose in charge of infrastructure operations typically try to identify technologies and changes in processes that will help an organization and its IT department become more effective.

The most critical aspect of keeping an organization competitive is hiring and retaining skilled individuals within its IT department.

John Rivard, research director for infrastructure and operations at Gartner, tells CIO‘s Sharon Florentine that staffing is an organization’s greatest asset and investment. As such, organizations unable to recruit and retain the very best talent will find they are at a competitive disadvantage.

An issue that makes recruitment and retention even more difficult, according to Sona Sharma, senior research analyst with Staffing Industry Analysts, is an extremely constricted job market. Sharma said their January 2014 Staffing Industry Pulse Survey results show that the IT staffing segment is strong and shows the market for the strongest candidates is tight, including in database administration, where the unemployment rate is very low. Sharma added:

It’s not only the new technology skills, but also the usual suspects such as JAVA programmers and SAP specialists that are being actively sought after. The all-pervasive nature of technology these days has made pretty much every business a technology business, pushing employment growth in IT to outperform growth in total U.S. employment.

Long-Term Needs

Tactical hiring is not effective in this current climate. Organizations need to be focused on identifying long-term strategic needs, incorporating employee growth and development into their plans. Simply hiring a warm body to fill a vacant seat is no longer an effective option.

Rivard told CIO:

Your best employees have a greater, more positive impact on your organization than your best customers. Every organization 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. 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.

The ideal strategy, according to Rivard, is to look at the existing skills on staff, then determine what holes need to be filled. This will help organizations identify critical needs that have the potential to hurt business operations if they’re not properly staffed. This could have a ripple effect across the enterprise.

No Magic Number

Also, experts note that hiring based on some magic number isn’t an ideal strategy either. The number of database administrators needed by an enterprise depends on at least three variables that are not constant. These include the number of databases an organization uses, their size, and the number of users being supported. Other factors that may come into play include availability — if 24/7 availability is an absolute requirement, someone must be available 24 hours a day. What skills are needed and when? Knowing the complexity of your organization is essential.

Although it may seem logical to have a permanent hire assigned to fill a staffing gap, Rivard said organizations often don’t take advantage of perfect opportunities for outsourcing. He said Gartner found that about 65 percent of organizations keep their I&O operations wholly in-house. In the skill evaluation process, management should identify areas where resources are needed to determine skills or specialties that might be filled by outside sources.

The primary focus needs to be attracting, developing, and retention of the best talent in the field. It is possible that, despite a proactive and tactical staffing plan, some skills gaps may never be properly filled.

For information about ways to fill your staffing gaps, get in touch with us at Datavail. We may be able to help.

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