Expect to pay higher hourly rates and have fewer choice
A trio of recent surveys in both the US and UK underscores something we’ve been seeing at our own customers: IT contractors are getting more expensive and harder to find.
An already healthy market for IT contractors is getting healthier
First of all, there is a healthy market for IT contractors, who are in somewhat limited supply and hourly rates are reflecting the competitive nature of these positions. The last half of 2014 and beyond is projected to see continued increases in the use of contractors for critical IT projects.
Second, those IT contractors are the same ones being courted by service providers, so they are in demand. IT shops who have deployed cloud services, and expect their cloud provider will now handle the support, have found they are competing with those very providers to hire IT contractors who are “cloud-savvy,” according to FierceCIO.
Contractor UK follows the IT contractor markets in both the US and UK, and says the scenarios are similar. Companies who tightened their belts during the Great Recession of 2008 are finding they either need to up their game or hire less-qualified, “second-string” contractors who will work for their offered rates. If those contractors are involved in critical IT projects, the necessary skill levels simply aren’t there and those projects are in jeopardy.
The situation isn’t projected to change anytime soon. Computerworld reported on several surveys in a recent article, one indicating that almost 50% of the companies surveyed planned to hire IT contractors in the coming year, and another that the percentage of contract workers in the IT departments at some firms is at a record 17%.
How can companies avoid being affected?
Of course, the obvious answer which few managers want to hear is plan to pay more for IT contractors. But companies can do simple, smart things to avoid wasting valuable IT resources on non-valuable projects.
We see IT organizations throwing dollars into a few areas they could totally avoid:
- Help Desk calls ref PST files – PST files are archaic and no longer needed. At some companies they account for 15% of all help desk calls. If you are stretched thin for customer support (and who isn't?), you can free up a lot of hours by mounting a PST elimination project that will pay for itself over and over again.
- Non-core IT tasks – having IT staffs do eDiscovery or eDisclosure collections ends up an iterative task and legal teams rarely get what they want on the first try. If you deploy an advanced search product on top of your archiving or information management system, the legal department itself could do some if not all of this collection and be happier with the results (not to mention freeing up IT staff for more urgent projects).
- Exchange migrations – Exchange 2013 is well-established, and Exchange 2003 is obsolete anyway – meaning if you’re on 2003 or 2007 you’ll be migrating to 2010, and lots of 2010 users are looking at 2013 or Exchange Online. Big mistake not to undertake an archiving project first: we see companies who decide to do that after migrating wasting time and resources migrating mailboxes full of junk that they end up deleting afterwards.
- Excess legal discovery – we could write a whole book about this, but companies who “save everything” end up “discovering everything,” and can spend millions of $ (or £) reviewing emails that should never have been saved in the first place
It’s always easy to look in hindsight at what IT organizations do, but the reality is that IT is a complex and rapidly changing landscape. One thing seems clear, and that is that the latest recession “strangle-hold” which was placed on IT wages is easing up. Firms need to re-evaluate their expectations, be prepared for the consequences, and reconsider implementing those back-burnered projects that would ease their overall tech burdens.