A CIO's Strategy for Recession-Era Staffing
by Tony Kontzer
Amid the gloomy reports we all read daily about the state of the economy, it's easy to forget that a big part of a CIO's job is making sure the IT organization is ready to pounce on any opportunities to make a difference in the business. And more than anything, that means having the assortment of people needed to analyze requirements, make quick decisions, and implement those decisions. So today, I'm taking it upon myself to share the steps one CIO -- Bill Rogers of global printing press maker Goss International -- has been taking to ensure that he's able to count on his IT staff when that call-to-action comes.
Here's what Rogers has been up to:
-Shoring up perceived weaknesses. Most CIOs today will tell you, security is one area you can't skimp on. But most CIOs are far from experts in choosing security products, evaluating threats, and administering security procedures. That's why Rogers went out and found someone he felt he could entrust with his company's entire security strategy.
"I spent all that money on anti-virus and anti-spam and all sorts of other things," says Rogers. "I just needed someone to pull that all together and make sure we're spending money in the right areas." As a bonus, thanks to the economy, Rogers was able to find the level of expertise he sought at a discount.
-Maintaining connections with recruiters. By keeping an ear to the recruiting scene, Rogers is doing his best to stay abreast of what kinds of skills are most available, where the shortages are, and what the recruitment trends are looking like. He understands time will be of the essence once the floodgates open. "When the market comes back and I need people," says Rogers, "I believe I'm going to need to do that rapidly." Having those connections with recruiters will help Rogers get to the best people before they're snatched up.
-Attempting to boost internal morale. As any CIO can tell you, this isn't a great time for staff morale. Bonuses and perks that once were commonplace are almost unheard of, replaced by slashed merit increases and forced furloughs. That's leaving managers with little choice but to do whatever they can to provide employees with the warm and fuzzy moments they need. From ramping up department-wide communication and holding cross-functional breakfast meetings, to allowing telecommuting and supplying pizza lunches, Rogers has been taking extra steps to make his IT staff feel valued and wanted. If his efforts work, he should still have his most valued employees at his side when the economy rebounds.
The resulting combination--a devoted crew of top-flight IT professionals, a bead on the recruitment landscape, and expertise where it's most needed--should help Rogers provide Goss with, if not a competitive edge, at least a solid IT staffing foundation when the economy awakens. My message to other CIOs reading this: Ignore Rogers' recession staffing blueprint at your own peril.