Updated: Sep 16, 2019
In today's highly-competitive market for technology talent, companies are placing heavy emphasis on their hiring strategy. Focusing on hiring, however, is short-sighted when top talent is also quietly leaving the company. Unless your hiring strategy is within an overall talent program, the result will still be a loss of great talent. IT organizations need help solving this challenge and quickly: while it is possible to recover the loss, the costs compound. With multiple candidate reviews, interviews, moving/signing/starting bonuses, and lost time to onboarding, a company spends on average 150% of a resource's cost if that company fails to retain and is forced to backfill a role. Here are some best practices that we've observed from our own clients as they sidestep a talent gap.
Blindly Increasing Headcount is Short-Sighted
The gut reaction of most IT organizations is to hire more resources in order to hit deadlines. This is the broad promise of offshore staffing providers. Hiring for headcount results in a temporary solution, coming ultimately at the expense of the deliverable's quality, timeliness, and maintenance/support needs long-term. Without better design, coordination, and communication, adding developers to a project means hitting the law of diminishing returns faster: at some point, adding more people actually hurts. Mass communication with a remotely staffed team in different time zones inevitably breaks down and costs valuable project time. Corresponding increases in quality and coding reviews are required but typically left out to save money, causing maintenance and support costs to climb quickly. In the long-term, blindly increasing headcount without "inspecting what you expect" is a sizable risk, adding more complexity with less control.
Look Further Down the Road
Forward-thinking leaders are instead looking holistically at their talent strategy: what is the company's projected headcount needs, anticipated skillset shifts, career paths for top talent, and overall retention goals? An important year-over-year metric is measuring how many technology-related projects that the company couldn't complete because it didn't have enough people or time. Sometimes that gap exists as a byproduct of missing skills -- measuring yearly what skillsets are trending towards higher demand is a helpful way to anticipate. On the contrary, if the company retains a highly-skilled workforce but can't keep them engaged or progressing towards a rewarding career path, those resources might choose to pursue career goals outside of the company. The retention rift will become a challenge if experts are steered towards management roles that are outside of their own goals.
Building Talent Within
Tech-enabled organizations are deliberately using a team structure that keeps all levels engaged and productive. The most common model can be broken down into three levels: an expert or two at the top of each project team, intermediate senior developers, and junior developers that produce most of the code. The expert on each team is tightly engaged with other experts and architecture in the enterprise. They place emphasis on patterns, re-usability, and adherence to coding and security standards. Senior developers oversee quality and delivery, ensuring those same patterns and standards make it into the deployments. They also train the 5-10 junior developers, who produce most of the code and are looking to increase their skills in order to move up to become a senior.
Top Talent is a Must
This familiar model breaks down when there is a shortage of top talent -- it is the deliberate emphasis on patterns and re-use that sidesteps technical debt and makes maintenance and even migration a much easier (and cheaper) task for the enterprise. Without adherence to standards, the organization faces compounding complexity and exponential hidden risks with each deployment. IT and HR must find a way to compensate its expertise -- or risk losing them. Without an individual contributor path to match the longevity and pay of a career in management, most experts have no choice but to leave in order to make the salary that matches their increasing value.
Talent Partnerships Grow Your Own Talent While Helping IT Deliver
Your enterprise projects can't afford to lose steam, and you refuse to make principled short-cuts. Use Kitestring to supply top experts that are also great teammates, good communicators, solid mentors, and are project-ready. Find out how our partnership is your competitive advantage.