Reviewing your approach to staffing Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2007

Any chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Nowhere is that more true than in an organization’s staffing. It has begun to dawn on many managers that employees in key positions like information technology (IT) need to be more than simple workers. As the job market for excellent candidates gets slimmer, many enterprises are turning to specialty firms to help them fill IT hiring needs.

Smart Business spoke with Nicki Liesch, managing director of staffing services with Pomeroy IT Solutions, Inc., about how a company should approach its IT staffing. She says a staffing provider needs to be a full partner and needs to know what its client company requires when it comes to IT staffing. It’s important that both partners are on the same page.

How does staffing impact organizations and their IT talent strategy?

The market is evolving. The concept of a staffing provider being a ‘replacement’ or ‘just in time’ fill is no longer what the market needs. Companies are looking for staffing providers to be strategic partners in the acquisition of strategic and technical talent. Companies are working with the providers to locate the hard-to-find or high-demand talent that’s needed to complete projects, or to gain permanent staff that they themselves are unable to locate.

On the flip side, providers are being met with more competition. Therefore, more staffing providers are competing for the same market share with the same resource talent pool. The staffing providers that will lead in these markets are those who are able to gain advantages through their abilities to provide the talent and match customer needs in a timely manner.

What key positions are currently used for staff augmentation?

Identification, acquisition, retention and management of technical resources are used to deliver the following IT services: hardware procurement, integration and distribution; professional consulting services and application development; life cycle technology services; and help desk. There is a solid demand for people in all of those categories.

What is the best way to find people?

The old-fashioned way is still the best — via word-of-mouth or referrals. Networking through your contacts and other qualified resources is critical to success. As part of this process, many providers still continue to turn to the familiar sources of talents through the use of Internet job boards. Meanwhile, offshore channels are declining. The need for the personal touch and customer-first, high-touch profile is important, both to the candidate as well as the customer.

How can one evaluate staffing providers in the marketplace? How do companies determine the provider to staff their IT functions?

Organizations want to know their provider’s people can do the job and have proven experience in their positions. These are critical resources, and businesses are entrusting this talent channel to an alternative-sourcing provider. It is important that the staffing providers be able to provide success stories and opportunities to review their previous work and referrals from prior and/or current customers.

Candidates and existing sourcing resources are a second way to increase provider credibility. Considering economic and security concerns in our environments, the candidates we provide are pre-screened through federal, state and local background checks, immunization requirements and validated work history. Providers must exhibit their value proposition to candidates as well as the customer.

Why do we see a growth in the use of staff-augmented resources?

Companies are motivated to use temporary or contingent workers as a way to gain access to skills that are difficult to find. Once the hard-to-find resources are located, companies will keep them for long periods of time or often request a right-to-hire. The ability for providers to be flexible in this right-to-hire model places them as a strategic partner in their talent acquisition process. The right-to-hire model allows companies to fill talent gaps on projects while evaluating skill and company culture compatibility without the risk of making bad hiring decisions.

What makes an effective sourcing strategy?

A company can measure things like number of interviews to hire, equal employment opportunity consideration to hire and, of course, speed to fill.

Do environmental and economic changes factor into the shift to staff-augmented resources?

Companies continue to struggle in their search for qualified and certified IT talent. As the largest pool of IT resources — the ‘baby boomers’ — continues to exit the market, the talent pool is constricting. As this shortage impacts more of any company’s IT function, it’s likely to turn to alternative sourcing. At that point, choice of staffing providers becomes a key strategic decision.

NICKI LIESCH is the managing director of staffing services with Pomeroy IT Solutions, Inc. Reach her at nliesch@pomeroy.com or (859) 586-0600.