Based on the speed with which the world is adopting and embracing new technology, we could easily have 500,000 IT roles to fill by 2020. For companies around the world, building new products to compete (and win) against competitors is hard, and the game is only getting tougher. Talent is difficult to find and even harder to retain. If you’re not using innovative technology, you’ll undoubtedly struggle in the war for IT talent.
So, why is talent difficult to find? As we move into an era that is more technological than ever before, skills required for the roles being created must also adapt. For example, finding a software engineer who knows Java is hard enough, but finding a programmer with strong enough math skills to keep up with the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning is even harder.
In-house Talent vs. Outsourcing Talent
In the war for talent, companies can choose to invest and source talent in-house, however, it’s not an easy challenge and not everyone wins. For business leaders, it’s hard to justify investing in people who you might later lose to competitors. What is more, the decision to keep talent in-house is a battle that must be fought on two fronts – in the war for business and the war for talent. Companies seldom can afford this.
However, the other option is to outsource talent: with around 50 percent of companies already using outsourcing in one form or another, it’s the new normal in IT. But using external companies to help with R&D doesn’t often happen because it’s seen as a risk.
So, is it possible to have an innovation partner? Is it possible to outsource innovation?
It’s hard, but achievable and crucial to find the right match for your business. Organisations around the world typically prefer a partner rather than just an outsourcer. Ideally, you want a partner that understands your business as much as you do, and understands the industry and technology. This results in faster delivery to the market, increases the likelihood of shared innovation and attracts skilled talent.
If your work with an outsourcer is a true partnership, it can flourish. Communication between the two companies should be on a variety of levels (e.g., at both a management and engineer level), which is maintained and nourished throughout the partnership.
Culture also should be taken into consideration. With similar values and cultural alignment, a partnership will develop. When you look for an outsourcing partner, these questions should be addressed:
- What objectives do you have?
- What processes do you have in place and which do you need?
- Do you trust them?
Trust matters the most, but it is often the most difficult to achieve quickly.
If two organisations in a partnership have trust, it can help during difficult situations. With trust in place, the teams can go through many problems together and find mutual solutions. However, there are plenty of mistakes than can inhibit the partnership, and consequently the trust. This includes a lack of cultural alignment and talent retention.
Retaining Talent in a Partnership
When you look for a partner, it’s important to not only focus on the skills that the organisation currently has, but also their means of sourcing new talent and retaining current talent. It’s critical that the company you work with is also winning in the war for skilled workers and is motivating employees to stay with the organisation. If you begin working with a partner and their skilled team, and then they leave, it will greatly inhibit the project (and likely the partnership too).
When it comes to choosing the right partner, there is plenty to take into consideration. From honesty and transparency to having joint responsibility, an outsourcer should be a partner to the organisation and prioritise attracting and keeping skilled workers. After all, there can’t be innovation without talent.