Five Tips to Prepare for Your Better Days Ahead
While it may be a slow march to economic recovery, it will certainly be nice to march with the wind at our backs once again. Better days are ahead—still in the distance—but they are coming. To make the most of the opportunities they will bring, Thompson Technologies offers you this five-part Recovery Readiness Strategy. Focused on ensuring your organization is staffed, skilled and ready to achieve, the following readiness preparations are offered to help your team convert the opportunities that a gradual recovery presents into business-building and innovation success.
- Assess Team Structure & Effectiveness
Operating with limited resources has been modus operandi for businesses around the world for nearly two years. The recession skills you have learned—especially “doing more with less”—are valuable and should not be tossed out the door as soon as markets begin to shift.Take time to analyze the recession structure you have built for your IT team. Identify the areas where a reduction in resources has not hurt performance, innovation or team morale. If a reduction has meant greater efficiency at zero sacrifice to business excellence and production, keep it in place. However, there are places where teams are struggling and quality is slipping because of cutbacks and budget holds. Make sure you identify each one and put them in priority of importance. This checklist can serve as a phased plan for returning or achieving optimal staff balance.
- Inventory the Needs & Projects of Your Business Peers
Recovery is an ideal time for innovation and progressive thinking. Meet with key decision makers from across the business (customer support, operations, sales, marketing, etc.) and discuss their recovery strategies and project lists. This is an excellent way for IT to ensure an important and central role in key business initiatives throughout the recovery. It also gives you a chance to evaluate your own IT organization to identify any internal skill gaps that might preclude you from delivering on clients’ business innovation opportunities and support needs. When customer demands and internal requirements increase, make sure ahead of time that you have the skills on staff to support your clients’ business goals and contribute to their success with innovative solutions and tools.
- Align to the Bottom Line
It’s also very important to continue to align IT initiatives to projects that affect bottom-line success (such as innovations to help customers more easily find and buy products or streamlining efforts that help the business more quickly go to market). The better aligned IT is to its bottom-line contributions, the easier it is for IT team members to contribute to meet business goals or help your company overcome challenges. It also keeps your IT staff members fine-tuned to the needs of the business and customers. As they work on the frontline of revenue-driving projects, IT professionals learn when their work’s impact is most powerfully felt and where they can make the most difference to company success.
- Hire Smart & Hire Early
It’s important to note that hiring in a recession or early in the recovery is strategically smart. Why? We contend that the high number of talented and skilled professionals who have lost their jobs during this downturn is a double-edged sword. Yes, this group of IT professionals is eager to work again and does not have the traditional grandiose hiring package expectations as in the past, but there is such an abundance of available professionals that finding the right fit for your company and position could take time. The other “edge” to the double-edged sword is that while right now competition might not be high for these available candidates, that will change quickly as the market continues to improve and more and more businesses initiate projects and begin to hire. While it’s true that there is an abundance of IT professionals available—more so than we’ve seen in recent years—the unemployment rate for key IT positions is still below the national unemployment rate. That means that competition for these select professionals will inevitably follow.So, start your search now to ensure the skills and experience of any candidate you consider are exactly what your business needs, if not more. Also, try to make the most of today’s candidate-rich job market by making early hiring decisions in anticipation of future projects and to avoid the increased competition that is sure to crop up.
- Plan for a Flood in Demand
While economists anticipate a slow turnaround, it is important to consider reaction time. What if demand rises dramatically due to an influx of customer opportunities? Will your IT organization have the resources needed to deliver? If not, it’s important for IT organizations to have talent sourcing options at the ready. Whether hiring, staffing or outsourcing would be your solution to a flood in demand, put a strategy in place for quickly getting in the resources you need to meet demand and exceed expectations.A recession is hard but not being able to take advantage of opportunities to climb out of its grip would be equally—if not more—devastating. At a time when consumer expectations are at all-time highs, be certain that your IT organization is doing everything it can to help the business exceed them.
Be Prepared to Succeed
Just as IT organizations had to brace for the recession and the extreme cost-cutting and resource reductions that accompanied it, it’s now time to prepare for recovery. Be ready for surges in projects and demand. Take advantage of the strong market of talent when and where budgets allow and be sure to align IT goals with bottom-line success. With the right team and insight into business strategy, an IT organization can and should be a powerful, supportive and innovative engine for recovery.