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14 Aug The Evolution of Corporate IT Part 3: Rent or Buy your Talent?

(By Mike Raftery)

What does a modern corporate IT organization look like? In the past, it was common for armies of consultants with a range of skill sets and experiences to show up and implement a project by brute force. But in today’s leaner, more agile corporate IT organization, it is no longer an option to just throw bodies at the project. To be a true partner to the business team, responsiveness and understanding are appreciated more than ever. So what talent should you rent and which should you buy? Part 1 of this series covered the overview of the transition in the organization, part 2 covered the motivating factors in today’s corporate IT organization. In the final blog series on the modern IT organization, we will cover “what’s in” and “what’s out.”

What to buy?

Bilingual Architects

What talent and skillset should you keep in house to create an IT organization that is a true partner to the business? Since the goal is to build a long-term partnership with your business partner, working towards the same goal, you need a bilingual team of architects to translate business to IT. That does not mean Spanish or English; your architects need to be bilingual and speak both business and IT. This is an extremely key role and for the most part, must be groomed from within the organization because it is very hard to hire from the outside. Your architects must be aware of the system pitfalls and especially the integration points with other systems and teams.

Most importantly, this team needs to understand the business problem at hand and translate that problem into a workable solution. This means sometimes being the referee between technical teams, and other times setting the direction entirely. The system design decisions are made at their desk and it is their responsibility to ensure it all works together seamlessly. Needless to say, this is the most critical role in the new IT organization.

Creative Class

Put another way, problem solvers. Not all problems need to be solved with more technology. Many times a new way of using master data or existing functionality can be just as effective as a new enhancement and it’s much faster and cheaper. Many times in the modern IT organization, the IT team is presented with a problem to solve with no time or resources in which to solve it. In these situations, a good solution today can beat a perfect solution tomorrow. These team members need to understand the problems that the business functions face every day, and be able to understand, react and deliver solutions in the best way they possibly can. These team members do not necessarily even need to have an IT background. But they do need to be inquisitive and have that natural curiosity to work a problem to its completion.

Dedicated Project Managers

Navigating the nuances of each organization requires the experience and soft skills required of a dedicated project manager. When project deadlines are tight and a quick turnaround is essential, there is not time for a newbie to come in and learn the ropes right away. Having an experienced project manager will make the approval, estimation and implementation process so much easier. It may seems like a skill that can be rented, and while the skill can be found externally, the connections and soft skills cannot. Having a deep relationship in both the business and IT sides of the organization can make projects faster and cheaper than they would otherwise be. Also having an internal project manager will provide a vested interest in delivering on time and budget since they have to stay within the company and see those people in the next project.

What to Rent?

Developers/Configurers

Technical skills are readily available in today’s marketplace. If a good architect and project manager are in place, they can generate specific enough requirements that the technical tasks can be managed internally and executed by external talent. This is predicated on having specific and relevant requirements, but with a good team of translators, creatives and project managers, those documents should be easily generated.

Specialized Skills

There are some applications or technologies so specialized that they are needed only so often and should not take up headcount on your bench. The skills can be specialized for an application that is for a specific situation or just when something breaks.

Testers/Do-ers

When a project does occur and a surge of resources is needed to run test scripts and create training documents, an influx of consultants is a good fit. These skills would require an understanding of the technology but not necessarily a deep understanding of the business processes at hand. Hiring these extra hands when needed keeps your bench lean and still allows for them to add value under the direction of the architects and project managers when needed.

The focus of this new team architecture in today’s modern IT organization needs to be in building a deep understanding and rapid solutions. This means keeping a core of talent in house that knows the pieces, and how they fit together. It means hiring bodies when needed, under direction of this core team. Keeping the bench lean, and knowledge in house will result in fast turnarounds, better solutions, and more importantly, happier business partners.

Read the rest of the series here:

How much do you actually know about the future of your IT organization?
Evolution of the IT Organization Part 2: When to Carrot and When to Stick
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