Are Short Staffs Here to Stay?

According to a NetworkWorld round up of stats and opinions, IT leaders planning for 2010 might find themselves coming up short on staff and the necessary high-tech skills needed to help their companies drive growth during the recovery. Will decimated staffs be able to build something big and new when activity perks up? Robert Half Technology says no. In its study, 43 percent of 1,400 CIOs polled feel their IT departments are either somewhat or very understaffed in relation to their current workload.

Here’s food for thought from Robert Half executive director Dave Willmer:

Although businesses may be able to operate with stretched teams in the short term, being perpetually understaffed isn’t sustainable and can detract from the overall productivity and morale of the organization.

The sentiment is echoed by Lily Mok, vice president of Gartner’s CIO Research:

IT departments during the downturn were very cautious about where they reduced, and more organizations plan to keep staffing levels flat for a period of time. As the recovery continues, they might not even add too much, so I don’t think we will ever go back to the big IT departments of 2000 or 2001.

Another finding from Gartner: 62 percent of business executives recognize that “IT-enabled changes will be a key element in their post-recession strategy.” That’s great, but when, and who, is going to do that enabling? The skeleton staff already in place, or eager new hires ready to take their careers to the next level?

Don Willmott

One Response to “Are Short Staffs Here to Stay?”

  1. James Evans

    Having been in this field for over 30 years, I have been through many downsizing s, mergers, outsourcing, and other ways of reducing staff. The one thing that they all have had in common is that the contract staff is first to go, followed by older, more experienced staff. Shortly after a RIF, it is not uncommon to see some major project come up because the budget will now allow it. The biggest part of that problem is that the people who had the biggest share of business knowledge as to how things worked were usually laid off during the first or second round of cuts, which means that the project will most likely be over budget and take longer than estimated. I have worked at companies where a staff of 2 was trying to do the work of 6, which meant that you basically went into firefighting mode. You take care of production to make sure that you can take care of business, but updates, fixes and improvements take the back burner because you either don’t have the expertise, the time, or the man power to implement them. There is insufficient time to test new products or new ideas, because you are busy trying to keep things running and not have the systems com crashing down around your ears. Many companies are currently in lock down mode to protect their bottom lines, and until such time as the economy begins to pick up, hiring will continue to be very slow.