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TEKsystems recently hosted its seventh annual series of Customer Councils at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, GA, on April 5 – 11. Three separate councils were held by Marketing and our executive hosts within three, two and half day events.
As the nation’s leading technology staffing and services company, it is important for TEKsystems to continually stay in tune with the “voice” of the customer. The Masters Tournament, coupled with the Customer Council, provides an avenue to better understand what problems our customers are experiencing and allows us to brainstorm ways in which we can become a more valuable partner.
Beyond the Council sessions, attendees network with each other during meals and in other social settings. In addition, attendees have the opportunity to watch one of the world’s most esteemed events: the Masters Tournament. This year’s event marked Tiger Woods’ re-entry into golf after his lengthy absence.
Each Customer Council hosted by TEKsystems is unique in that attendees dictate the conversation topics. Based on the issues and trends customers discussed, four common themes resonated through the three distinct Customer Councils:
›› The economy: Doing more with less
›› Cost restraints forcing businesses to off-shore/outsource
›› Post-recession impact on IT labor
›› Quality IT workforces
“How are your companies dealing with doing more with less?”Asked TEKsystems Executive Director Allen Kriete, who hosted one of the Council events. The recession has impacted the majority of customers who attended the Council. As expected, customers indicated that working with a smaller team has required them to strategize about how to improve workload allocation.
Having a plan is especially critical since many customers shared that the number of projects continuing through their pipelines are increasing.
At the Council, customers suggested that even though layoffs occurred in 2009, they anticipate hiring temporary IT staff to help offset the effects of increased workloads. However, they noted that they will closely review the types of people they consider for their open positions. One customer stated that his organization would only look at “A” players and that “B” players wouldn’t even be considered. To be considered an “A” player, customers want an IT professional who is technically proficient and understands their business and industry. To aid with the selection of top IT professionals, customers indicated that they will continue to align themselves with a staffing provider that understands them — their strategy, operations, mission, organization and culture — enough to offer creative, cost-effective and practical solutions.
The topic of utilizing off-shore talent was also addressed during the councils. Most companies’ leadership believes there are cost savings associated with outsourcing projects to countries like India and Malaysia. However, some customers expressed concerns that the attractiveness of savings can sometimes hinder the consideration of the total costs that are associated with off-shoring. The “soft” costs of moving projects overseas, like travel time, language barriers, security, significant time zone differences and attrition can greatly increase the outsourcing expense, they noted. Separately, customers indicated that as they try to off-shore projects, they often lack the internal processes required to make the off-shore project successful. Companies should invest the time to ensure they are only outsourcing work with very clear and accurate requirements in place. Performing requirements gathering for a complex application with an off-shore partner was said to be quite challenging.
As it relates to IT labor, customers indicated that the post-effects of the recession are sometimes more challenging than the recession’s direct impact. One customer said, “My support team is overwhelmed. I’m concerned about their health. I need a company behind our contractors that supports them.” In addition, customers indicated that some employees are working into the night trying to complete projects. Furthermore, customers fear that once the economy stabilizes, employees are going to search for other job opportunities if they continually feel overworked and underpaid. “Moral is an issue that we have to deal with,” stated another client. To compensate, companies seek creative methods to incent employees including recognition programs, comp time, employee discounts and flexible schedules. In addition, companies are creating distinct Employee Value Propositions (EVP) to retain top performers and to attract new people. To be effective, EVPs must go beyond a job description and salary. They should include information about the stability of the company, the IT culture and what makes the team unique. All of these attributes are important to top candidates as they decide where their talents would be best put to work.
In tough economic times, it’s apparent that customers need a quality workforce that is able to deliver results. To produce quality work, employees must not only have the appropriate skill sets, but also, they must embody the company’s culture. “People can’t migrate into a new business culture and suddenly become successful — no matter what their technical competency,” stated one client. IT leaders must do their due diligence through the hiring process and spend time with their employees post-hire to understand their needs and help them grow as productive members of the team. When searching for top IT talent, it is important to look for employees with similar values and work attitudes; people who are able to get along with the rest of the IT workforce to ensure that quality work is produced.
One customer commented, “In recruiting, it’s important for me to have current staff interview potential employees to ensure that they will make a good match within my team. It is just as important for my vendor to understand my culture upfront so they are able to find those people that could potentially fit in.”
Post placement, customers indicated that management and the respective staffing providers must invest the time to provide feedback and guidance to the IT staff to prevent issues, drive performance and keep the team retained during a project’s lifecycle.
Moreover, training remains a top concern for IT leaders. As the average age of IT employees increases, there is a gap between the skill sets of seasoned employees compared to those of recent college graduates. While existing employees have a stronger understanding of the industry and the business, they often lack knowledge around leading edge technologies that are required for new projects. Customers indicated that due to the economy, training has been drastically cut. Therefore they value vendors that provide training to their IT staff.
The Masters Customer Council is an event that, each year, enables TEKsystems to build deeper customer relationships. It also provides new insight into challenges that our customers rely on us to help solve. It is TEKsystems’ honor and pleasure to facilitate these discussions, while offering a unique environment for constructive dialogue among peers.
People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. At TEKsystems, we understand people. Every year we deploy over 80,000 IT professionals at 6,000 client sites across North America, Europe and Asia. Our deep insights into IT human capital management enable us to help our clients achieve their business goals – while optimizing their IT workforce strategies. We provide IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services to help our clients plan, build and run their critical business initiatives. Through our range of quality-focused delivery models, we meet our clients where they are, and take them where they want to go, the way they want to get there.
TEKsystems. Our people make IT possible.