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Memo to Management: Most IT Workers Looking for New Jobs

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Jack Dausman posted some alarming stats today from the Computer Technology Industry Association which indicate that 60% of us (IT folk that is) are looking for new jobs. In response Jonathan Walkup made a number of excellent observations on why this is so, which are right on the money. Even before reading his comment I was planning to make essentially the same point about politics and emotion often overriding technical merit in many IT decisions. The Microsoft FUD nonsense is probably the most visible manifestation of that, at least among the Lotus community.

Let's face it, nothing undermines morale among us technical geniuses more than putting our heart and soul into figuring out the best, most cost-effecitive way to meet some technical challenge, only to have some know-nothing manager do something else that ends up failing, costing millions, and leaving the company with no budget to give them raises. Except perhaps watching that manager get a promotion and a raise!

I think part of the problem, and this is a personal frustration for me as an independent contractor, is that IT staffing is mostly *rate* driven, as opposed to *value* driven. There is a widespread belief among non-technical IT managers (and more importantly, *their* managers) that senior technologists who charge a higher hourly rate are "more expensive", when often the opposite is true.

The notion that a $100/hr consultant is at best twice as productive as a $50/hr one ignores the fact that many problems that could keep a "cheaper" person (or three of them) busy for days might take a senior person 5 minutes. Why? Probably because they've dealt with the problem before. Certainly because they just know the technology better and don't have to "learn" as much on the job. Also, the "more expensive" person is more likely to find ways to improve organizational efficiency that save (or make) the organization million$. The point is that value is not at all proportional to cost when it comes to IT expertise, and quality is always a better value.

I believe the widespread failure to reward IT excellence with appropriate compensation and recognition (Google being the most notable exception these days) doesn't just explain why most of us want new jobs. It also explains why technology has not delivered the economic benefit that everyone thought it would. There are those among us who know how to do things "right", we're just not given the opportunity in most cases. I can't help wondering if the trend toward "offshoring" a lot of IT work might not be as prevalent if this situation were different.

I think this report represents both a warning and an opportunity. The warning is to organizations who don't get it. The opportunity is for organizations that do get it to cherry-pick the best and the brightest from the "don't get it" crowd and go do something great. Hopefully over time there will be enough organizations that get it to rescue the apparently large majority of us waiting for them to call.

Comments

1 - The catch is:
Management would like to hire the 100$ consultant if (s)he is ready to work for 50$. I heard that a lot: We like the work, we see the value, still we don't want to pay more than market rate (whith market rate being the lowest quotation they ever got).
stw

2 - "It also explains why technology has not delivered the economic benefit that everyone thought it would. There are those among us who know how to do things "right", we're just not given the opportunity in most cases. I can't help wondering if the trend toward "offshoring" a lot of IT work might not be as prevalent if this situation were different."

I can't agree more with this. We at (offshore locations) sometimes wonder what value are customers really getting? You cut one expert at onsite & replace him/her with offshore resources who only grow by numbers to offset the cost advantage.

With offshoring (it's just getting uncontrollable & bad now a days), chances of getting wrong people for the job is very high.

Ofcourse, offshoring is not all that bad. For routine maintanence & production support, offshoring is not such a bad idea after all and I don't intend to say that offshore always gives you technically poorer resources. There are technically sound individuals at offshore as well.


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