Training, not outsourcing, is key to success say CIOs

IT leaders who focus on training and retaining staff are generally more successful than those buying in talent from outsourcers, a global survey of more than 2,000 CIOs finds.

CIOs who focus on training staff to meet their skills' needs tend to run more successful IT operations than those who rely on buying in talent, a global study has found.

IT leaders who favour training and retaining staff reported completing a greater proportion of IT projects on budget and time, as well as greater range of business success than their peers, according to Gartner's 2013 CIO Agenda report, it's annual survey of more than 2,000 CIOs.

"When we compare CIO effectiveness, in terms of business and IT performance, the difference is the more effective ones emphasise building the internal talent pool over time," said Dave Aron, Gartner VP and fellow in the CIO Research Group.

"There's a real commitment to that as opposed to 'We'll just outsource or buy in or poach talent where we've got a talent issue'."

This internal development consisted of measures such as job rotations, training on the job, stretch tasks, shadowing and mentoring. Other effective techniques for holding onto or fostering the necessary skills internally were paying above average salaries and recruiting people from the business side of the organisation.

Aron said effective CIOs didn't look at outsourcing "as a way of solving the talent problem".

He said that while outsourcing can be effective for generic tasks, roles that require an understanding of a business' individual needs or whose responsibilities change frequently are better served by someone inside the organisation.

Talent shortages was a major problem for CIOs, with about three quarters of respondents either unable to find people with the right technical and business skills for roles or having no confidence they would be able to do so in future.

Similar to the types of skills shortages reported by UK businesses the most acute need is for experienced professionals to perform enterprise architect, business intelligence and analytics and security roles.

Again much like UK businesses, CIOs claimed the internal skills shortage could in part be traced back to the failure of outsourcers to provide the talent that firm's needed.

"Until a couple of years ago there were much higher hopes for what outsourcing would do for us," said Aron.

"The effect of that has been we weren't necessarily building the right talent to fill all of these roles because there was an expectation that outsourcing would save the day."


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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