Case Studies

Wanted: IT People with Business Skills

What makes you unique as an IT worker?IT People

In the future, this could be the common question asked by HR staff when it comes to recruiting IT staff in the future. Gone are the days wherein an IT staff needs only to focus on their IT skills. In the news article entitled Business Skills Tip Hiring Scale, it revealed the survey results of the study done by SIM (Society for Information Management).

SIM is a Chicago-based organization for IT executives. The dats from the said survey came from the interviews conducted last year. There were 96 IT managers that were interviewed from different companies. The interview results revealed the different attributes that IT managers are looking for in the years to come. These attrributes are:

  • business skills
  • project management talents
  • technical talents
  • client-facing skills

Kate Kaiser, an associate professor of IT at Marquette University in Milwaukee remarked that the survey result is not a big surprise for them because of the trend happening in the IT industry. The professor also remarked that business skills are needed in IT staff because firms are now realizing the benefits of the IT industry hence the need to further enhance such benefits. Other results of the survey are as follows:

    Additional Survey Results:

  • The total IT workforce which includes in-house staffers, contractors and full-time equivalents would show stabilityfrom 2005 to 2008
  • Organizations, especially the large ones would increase their outsourcing rate
  • The same organizations would also increase their use of domestic outsourcing firms with workers that are located offshore.
  • Programming skills would be the most outsourced function of these companies
  • The results revealed that Fortune 500 firms are hiring midlevel employees like analysts, senior systems analysts and project managers.
  • The ussue of baby boomer retirements would not be considered as a hindrance till the year 2011.

Thoughts and Insights

I think that the survey results reported in this article makes sense. This is because the trend now is evolving and in the IT industry, there is no place for the term stagnant. Everything needs to be moving and developing so that it would keep up the fast-paced change in the industry. People involved in the IT department should be aware of this fact which is also the reason why these people need to enhance their skills and grab the different opportunities for growth and development.

IT Spending: Up, Up, and Away

It looks like CIOs are increasing their IT spending in the months to come. This is according to the article CIO survey: IT spending projections rise steadily in Q1 which revealed the survey results of the CIO Magazine Tech Poll.

According to the article, the spending rate of CIOs are predicted to increase of 8.6% during the next 12 months, up from the projected rate of 7.8%. The survey results also revealed the following information:

  • 44.8% – rate of CIOs who said that they plan to increase spending over the next year (up from 40.7% last month)IT Spending
  • 13.8% – rate of CIOs who planned to decrease spending (down from 15.5% in December)

Aside from that, the poll also indicated the different functions which could be the target for increased spending in the months to come. These functions are the following:

  • storage systems
  • data networking
  • infrastructure software
  • computer hardware
  • telecommunications equipment
  • e-business applications software
  • outsourced IT services

As indicated in the survey results, the spending rate for storage systems was the strongest sector in the poll. The survey showed that 56.7% planned to increase their spending which is up from the original 49.7%. The second category indicated in the survey results was security software with 50.8% stating an increase in their spending rate. On the other hand, the survey results also revealed that there was an obvious decline in the IT workforce. 13% of the participants remarked that IT labor was hard to find last year and in this years survey, the rate doubled showing a total of 26.3%. When asked about the reason for such survey result, Gary Beach, group publisher at CXO Media Inc. remarked that: One of the reasons is that businesses cut too quick, too deep two or three years ago when there was a mad rush to [out]sourcing. Now that the environment has improved a bit, I think the very talented IT workers are calling the shots and doing some job shopping and jumping. Or they’ve gone off and either started working with consulting firms or started their own businesses. It certainly is a trend we’ve been calling out for a long time. This survey result was in coordination with my last blog post entitled IT Workforce: On the Brink.

Thoughts and Insights

In this survey, we could see that a lot of CIOs are now gearing up towards a better and more improved IT in their firm. This is indicated in their willingness to spend more money for the development and improvement of these firms. I think that CIOs having this kind of concept in mind, the IT department would surely flourish. This leaves us to the question on where to find these IT workers. As shown in this survey and from my previous blog post, IT workers are now declining due to different reasons. I just hope that with the added interest of CIOs in terms of finances and growth in this industry, it would be able to produce more quality IT workers and an even more productive work output.

The Measure of Success

SuccessWhat is success in Project Management?

For most people, they view success in PM through the output that the project caused. On the other hand, some people view success in PM in the process-making of the said project. IThe article entitled Evaluating Project Success, Failure — and Everything in Between shows that “failed” projects could be caused by the standard of success that managers implement in every project. According to Chaos Chronicles, 66% of IT projects are unsuccessful in some measures. Measures that were mentioned are the following:

  • project fails completely
  • exceeds allotted budget
  • does not finish according to schedule
  • launched with fewer features and functions

In order to view the project as succesful or not, project managers must consider the process criteria as well as the outcome criteria.

Process-Related Criteria

  • Time/Schedule: Did the project finished on time?
  • Cost/Price: Did the project come in the set budget?
  • Product/Outcome: Did the project result in a product of acceptable quality and meet other product-related specifications?

Outcome-Related Criteria

  • Use/Purpose: Were the project’s resultant products/services used by its intended constituents?
  • Learning/Evaluation: Did the project increase stakeholder knowledge and better prepare the organization for future challenges?
  • Value: Did the project lead directly to the organization’s improved efficiency or effectiveness?

Thoughts and Insights

Success for me is a subjective term. Though financial gain and other material things could be considered as standards for success, one thing that is more important than financial gain is the knowledge and lessons that one have learned through that experience. Though in project management, the effectiveness could be measured by the outcome of the project, the real success lies on how the team overcame the challenges that they met along the way. As a project manager, one needs to know the criteria suited for the people inside a team as it would be the basis on whether or not the team had achieved its goals.

Random Thoughts on Project Management

I recently posted a 5-part special focusing on the different software tools chosen by different IT directors. (read here for more). In line with this, I also stumbled upon a news article expressing another sentiment regarding technological gadgets.

The article entitled Complexity causes 50% of product returns: scientistrevealed that almost half of the supposed malfunctioning products returned by customers are actually in good working condtion. This means that the problem lies on the customer themselves. Most of these people could not easily figure out how these new technological gadgets work thus opting to return these gadgets rather than figure out a way on how it would work.

For the past years, there have been a lot of technological gadgets in the market like mp3s, wireless audio systems, software programs, among others. Instead of making things easier, consumers often feel that operating these things are more complicated. One interesting finding of the study shows that:the average consumer in the United States will struggle for 20 minutes to get a device working before giving up. So much for tenacity huh?

On the other hand, I recently discovered Stephen Seay’s blog which contains relevant and useful information for project management. In his blog, he posted several sayings about project management. Some are humurous while some are indeed true. Here are some of the sayings:
Good estimators aren’t modest: if it’s huge they say so.

The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

What is not on paper has not been said.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.

If you don’t attack the risks, the risks will attack you.

A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning.

The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.

Thoughts and Insights

My blog posting for today aims to focus on the funny side of project management. Remember that project management is more than having the specific skills required for the job, it also entails people and communication skills. I think that the article showing ignorance in technological gadgets show how much work firms should focus on informing consumers in the operation of such things. On the other hand, the sayings that I shared with you explains a different side of project management. Though most of the sayings are laced with humor-the thought and message of proper management is carried through and through.