The CIO's Calendar: November is the Time to Assess Staffing Models
This is the third installment in our new monthly blog series, The CIO's Calendar, in which we'll give you insights on how to plan your time in the month ahead as you look to allocate resources and develop new initiatives. In this installment, we explore the items that every CIO should have on the calendar for November 2011 in order to prepare for your short- and long-term needs.
By Don Desiderato
CIOs are continuously confronted with the challenge of managing year-to-year resource needs based on changing project priorities. November is the month to take a serious look at the project portfolio for 2012 and make an assessment on your preparedness. It is also time to begin thinking about the long-term processes you need to put in place so you can regularly assess skill sets as your project portfolio changes. You need to be nimble enough to manage your staffing in a way that is directly proportional to the upcoming project portfolio.
The typical challenge is that the skill sets required for 2011 projects may be completely different than the skill sets required for priorities in 2012. As an example, 2011 may have been the year to start, resume, or complete a system modernization effort, while 2012 may be the year for heavy investment in product development, producer portal, field technology, social media, or STP initiatives.
Therefore, the skill sets required for 2012 could be completely different than the skills needed for the previous year. Also, the business appetite for new IT initiatives may be greater or less than the previous year, depending on factors such as market conditions or profitability concerns.
Planning in the area of staffing can be thought in two ways -- short term and long term -- so let's address them both. However, before we do, let's remind ourselves of why this is important. A company CFO recently shared with me how financial chiefs view IT: He had high regard for the strategic value of IT, but also went on to say that CIOs cannot simply assume that they will always receive the same level of investment year over year.
Therefore, it is crucial for IT to be able to develop the ability to flex at the speed of business.
So, back to assessing your IT staffing needs. Think of this exercise in two distinct categories:
- Short Term 2012 Initiatives: Now is the time to assess the project portfolio for the upcoming year and rigorously compare it against available resources. Do you have too many resources? Too few? Do you have the right skill sets? The answers to these questions will help you determine whether you need to invest in training, release consultants, or acquire new talent - typically, you should be taking all of these actions. In the ideal state, where you have a mix of consultants and employees, consultants are used to bring in new skill sets or accommodate a ramp-up scenario. When the specialty skills are no longer needed, or demand drops, consultants can be released. Sourcing actions should be based on the upcoming project portfolio, and this is the ideal time to prepare.
- Long Term (18-24 month) View: How do you build in regular adjustments to your staffing model as a core IT competency? How do you develop the ability to flex your staff on an ongoing basis? For an IT organization, these skills are important, and processes must be designed and built in to understand the long-term pipeline. Many IT shops implement very specific roles -- such as Business Relationship Managers -- to answer these questions. Their role as IT leaders is to embed themselves in the business, understand their needs, and help by recommending IT solutions in a pro-active manner. By having individuals dedicated to truly understanding the long term view, you'll be positioned to accurately assess your organization's staffing needs.
About the Author Don Desiderato, is Principal with Novarica and a former Divisional CIO.