Why aren’t you planning for success? - How a lack of strategic IT workforce planning could hurt your organization
Why aren’t you
planning for success?
HOW A LACK OF STRATEGIC IT WORKFORCE PLANNING COULD HURT YOUR ORGANIZATION
Information technology (IT) leaders are
responsible for vital elements of an organization’s
business enablement, including application
development, infrastructure, cloud-based
solutions, mobility and security.
As an increasing number of business processes occur
through digital channels, IT leaders need to ensure that
they have the right people with the right skills in place to
manage critical systems and technology.
However, there is a shortage of skilled IT workers. Recent research
suggests that more than half of global IT security workers believe
there is a workforce shortage and that their organization needs to
bolster staffing levels. Further research indicates that the number of
unfillable cloud-related jobs could rise to seven million by 2015.
As a result, organizations need to formulate deliberate strategies to address their talent
needs. To help IT leaders manage this process, Kelly Services conducted a survey of
US-based IT leaders to understand how organizations were preparing to fill critical skills
gaps and overcome the challenges of locating talent. We surveyed chief information
officers (CIOs), chief technology officers (CTOs), and information systems (IT/IS) vice
presidents (VPs) and directors.
On the whole, our research uncovered a lack of readiness for potential skills gaps. Just
over half of respondents had not created a strategic workforce plan in the last year to
identify their future IT staffing needs. At the same time, nearly 60 per cent of IT leaders
believed skills gaps would have a negative impact on their business.
Nearly 60 per cent of
IT leaders believed
skills gaps would have
a negative impact on
So, given this awareness of the current and looming problems, why aren’t more
organizations putting comprehensive plans in place? After all, our survey shows those
that have implemented workforce planning are better prepared for the long term, have
more clarity in their requirements, and therefore feel more confident about their ability
to meet current and future IT skill needs.
We found that many organizations are hindered by substantial challenges, including
finding the right skills, securing budgets and keeping up with the pace of technological
change. By working to overcome these issues and implementing holistic workforce
plans, organizations will be well placed to identify and recruit the IT talent they need to
succeed, now and in the future.
Those that have
are better prepared for
the long term, have
more clarity in their
IT leaders in the US are concerned about skills shortages in the IT
sector. In 2013, 59 per cent of respondents believed the impending
skills gap would have a somewhat significant or significant negative
impact on their organization.
These impending shortages are being driven by the need to find additional – and
more qualified – staff to deal with critical and increasingly complex technologies and
functions. In 2012 and 2013, IT leaders cited security and the cloud as key drivers of
talent shortages. While mobility was rated as a slightly stronger driver in 2013, business
intelligence decreased in importance.
/06BRACING FOR A LOOMING SKILLS GAP
Figure 1: Expected impact of the impending IT skills gap
Figure 2: Technologies and functions that will drive the need for IT talent over the next two years
Expected impact of the
impending IT skills gap
Technologies and functions that will drive the
need for IT talent over the next two years
FIGURE 1: FIGURE 2:
/07BRACING FOR A LOOMING SKILLS GAP
No impact Somewhat
Security Cloud Business
/09ORGANISATONS ARE LARGELY NOT PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Even though IT leaders are aware of a looming staffing crunch,
many have not taken action. For instance, in 2013, we found that
less than half (48 per cent) of organizations had undertaken a
strategic assessment in the last 12 months to identify future IT
In addition, we found that 17 per cent of IT leaders had no formal plans to review their
future workforce needs in 2013.
Organizations that had not reviewed their workforce requirements faced a range of
challenges, including a lack of coherent strategic planning, lagging behind the market
in adopting cutting-edge technology, and high staff turnover.
These consequences can place organizations at a disadvantage as they may be less
likely to retain talented staff, and may not fully harness the power of technology to
boost sales and customer satisfaction.
Figure 3: Has your organization conducted a strategic assessment to identify future IT workforce needs? (in the last 12 months)
Figure 4: Challenges faced by organizations that have not reviewed IT workforce requirements
Has your organization conducted
a strategic assessment to identify
future IT workforce needs?
(in the last 12 months)
Challenges faced by
have not reviewed IT
FIGURE 3: FIGURE 4:
Yes No, but
plan to within
slower to hire)
/10ORGANISATONS ARE LARGELY NOT PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
In contrast, organizations that are proactively reviewing their IT workforce needs are
reaping substantial business benefits. The top three benefits – long-term planning
ability, clarity of direction and increased efficiency – are consistently higher than other
results in both 2012 and 2013, with planning and clarity showing a marked increase
from year to year.
In addition, nearly half of the survey respondents are outsourcing their IT workforce
planning to an external staffing provider.
A challenging position: How CIOs and IT directors view workforce planning
The “IT leaders” category
includes a broad range of
roles. In our survey, we
found the experiences of
CIOs and IT/IS VPs differed
from those of IT/IS directors.
For instance, compared to IT
directors, CIOs and VPs more
strongly believed that greater
efficiency (27 per cent versus
11 per cent) and improved staff
training (16 per cent versus
none) were benefits
of workforce planning.
CIOs and VPs stated that
budgets were a barrier to
workforce planning, while
IT directors were more likely
to cite a lack of long-term
planning as a stumbling
block. In addition, 80 per cent
of IT directors work with
HR departments to address
workforce needs. This is
significantly higher than
the 63 per cent of CIOs and
VPs working with HR for
ORGANISATONS ARE LARGELY NOT PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Figure 5: Business benefits from IT workforce strategic planning
Figure 6: Methods used to address IT workforce planning
Methods used to address IT
Business benefits from IT
workforce strategic planning
plan for the
ORGANISATONS ARE LARGELY NOT PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
While IT leaders may understand the benefits of workforce
planning, many experience difficulties implementing and gaining
results from these plans.
The key challenges reported include finding the right match of skills to meet the
organization’s requirements, managing budgets, and juggling the allocation of staff,
technology and time.
In many organizations, effective communication between business units and IT leaders
presents a major challenge. For example, in 2013, 67 per cent of IT leaders stated they
were only sometimes given advance notice of projects that required additional IT staff.
In addition, more than one in 10 rarely received advance notice.
We also anticipate that effective communication will be increasingly important as
more organizations deploy remote workforces. According to our survey, in 2013,
52 per cent of IT leaders expected to increase the amount of IT work conducted
offsite in coming years.
/14CHALLENGES OF IT WORKFORCE PLANNING
Figure 7: Key challenges for IT leaders in workforce planning
Figure 8: How often are IT leaders given advance notice of future IT staff requirements?
As IT functions continue to shift away from corporate headquarters, we believe
sophisticated communication and monitoring will be crucial in ensuring these functions
are successfully completed.
/16CHALLENGES OF IT WORKFORCE PLANNING
Figure 9: To what extent will the amount of IT work your organization conducts offsite change in coming years?
To what extent will the amount of IT work your
organization conducts offsite change in coming years?
CHALLENGES OF IT WORKFORCE PLANNING
Our research shows many organizations are not undertaking IT
workforce planning. A failure to understand current and future
workforce needs could leave organizations ill-equipped to deal with
critical challenges such as security, and unable to realize the full
benefits of technology such as cloud-based solutions.
Based on our survey results, we suggest that organizations focus on three key areas to
improve their planning processes and build the IT workforces they need for the future.
1. Undertake a strategic IT workforce plan
Given that 52 per cent of respondents have not conducted a strategic IT workforce
review in the last year, now is the time for organizations to kick start their planning
processes. It will take some time to perform a detailed review and implement
strategies, so the longer organizations delay, the greater the risk they may lose out in
the race for top talent.
/19A ROADMAP FOR CHANGE: LESSONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
2. Develop effective lines of communication
between business units and IT leaders
In many organizations, business units are simply not informing IT leaders of upcoming
projects that will require additional IT staff. We suggest that CIOs and VPs implement
robust communication channels to keep all elements of the business in constant
contact so they can proactively address staffing needs. This could be conducted
through regular meetings or using cloud-based planning tools.
3. Forecast and assess likely IT trends and their implications for staffing
Planning is not a static activity. Organizations should be aware of emerging trends and
technologies, and assess the likely impact on their operations. They may need to begin
recruiting staff with additional skillsets to capitalize on such trends.
/20A ROADMAP FOR CHANGE: LESSONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
Between June 25 and July 11,
2013, we conducted a web
survey among 313 Information
Technology leaders based in
the United States. This followed
a nearly identical survey
conducted in 2012.
In 2013, we targeted companies
with 500 or more employees
and revenue ranging from
US$500,000 to more than
Survey respondents held
the following positions:
• Chief Information Officer
• Chief Technology Officer
• Information Technology
and Information Systems
Vice President and Senior
• Information Technology
The survey focused on a range
of industries, namely:
• Business Services
• Chemicals and
• Financial Services
• Food and Beverage
• Information Technology
• Life Sciences
• Utilities, Oil and Gas.