The lack of workers with technical talent and the competition with other companies for the qualified talent that exists make staffing a constant challenge for any IT-related business. With more than 400 people on his staff, J.D. Edwards CIO Mark Endry must ensure that his company, one of the leading vendors for enterprise resource planning, is doing as much as possible to recruit and retain skilled IT workers.

Here’s what Endry had to say on J.D. Edwards’ recruiting efforts, knowledge management, and workflow.

Retention and recruiting
TR: Are there any special incentives that you use to try and retain people at J.D. Edwards?
Endry: One of the things that J.D. Edwards uses pretty big time to recruit people in the first place is a very lucrative internal referral program. A high number of our employees come in the way of an internal referral. That helps bring them in.

TR: So if I refer someone who might be a good fit for a position and the person is hired, I will receive compensation if they stay on past the probationary period?
Endry: Yes, and then you will also be in a drawing, which I am not sure if it is quarterly or twice a year now, but you could win a cruise. I mean this is not $100.

TR: What is the value of offering something like that?
Endry: It helps us attract people to the company who are in the industry but may either not be looking or may not think to look to us. It also gives us a little bit of prescreening because the people who are giving us the referral are going to have to work with us, and if they are worried about their own reputation they are not going to send somebody who is not effective.

TR: Have you found this to be successful?
Endry: Yes, very successful. I will almost bet you over 50 percent of the IT employees are referrals. Now that is a guess, but it is a high number.
Last week, we spoke with Mark Endry, CIO and vice president of IT for J.D. Edwards, about his changing responsibilities as CIO as well as how J.D. Edwards uses its company intranet, the Knowledge Garden. Next week, we’ll feature the company’s use of Ariba’s e-procurement system and what new things we can expect from J.D Edwards.
TR: We ran an article recently about a congressional measure that is trying to increase the number of H1B visas allowed each year. I think it is 115,000 and the goal is 200,000.How do you handle H1B visas?
Endry: We do some amount of that in our knowledge and application services group…. We do not do that directly. As a company, we tend to use consulting firms who do that.

TR: Is it easier to outsource that?
Endry: The reason we do that is it helps us with peaks and valleys. We can go to the consulting firms and really kind of smooth out the peaks and valleys. We also have 400 employees spread around the world, so we do not need visas for all of those sites.

Knowledge management
TR: Are there any new knowledge management technologies that you have tried recently?
Endry: We are a heavy user of Microsoft products and so we are the pilot for a lot of their knowledge management stuff, and that is what has been implemented here. We also work very heavily with our own software development organization and help bring some of these things into being as part of our product.

TR: Could you elaborate on something that your company might do in-house like that?
Endry: There is a portal that really supports our product. We had a considerable amount of input into that and worked with them [Microsoft] jointly on the product based on some of the stuff we had done inside. The way it really works is that we will see a problem inside, we will find some solution to it, and then we will share that with development, who eventually will work it into our product.

TR: As CIO, do you have a standard procedure for working with development or working with engineering? Do you offer different proposals? Do you have a standard way that you approach such projects?
Endry: First, we think it is incredibly important to run our company on our products. We also feel it is important for us to be running on the “next to be released” version of our products so that we can find the problems before our customers.

We are very aggressive at implementing any of the standard products that are developed by our development group. If we find a need inside the company for which we do not find a good match in our product, we go to the development group and say, “This department really needs this functionality. When will you have it in the product?” and they may say, “Next release—six months.”

We will then go back to the department and see if that will work. If that will not work for them, rather than buying something else or building it ourselves, we will go back to development and say, “What happens if we give you two IT people to work on a project? Could you get it done sooner and could we roll it out internally sooner?”

In effect, what we are doing is shaping the product. When it comes out, it will be supported through the standard support structure, and our external customers can access the same solution as well. We have a very long number of successes with that, and it has really helped our relationship with the development organization.
What is your company’s approach to knowledge management? Send us an e-mail or post a comment below.