Work Smarter Not Harder: Looking Ahead To 2011

As businesses emerge from the downturn with less manpower and more and more to achieve, working smarter rather than harder, will be key to surviving in the changing IT marketplace. Success will depend on cultural changes within business and IT practices along with the adoption of new processes and tools.

Overall there needs to be a focus on increased collaboration, teams need to be multi-skilled and team-based performance incentives should be put in place. The result will be job satisfaction, increased productivity and prolonged staff retention.

Lean practices will help businesses minimise waste in the processes they follow, providing the whole organisation takes responsibility for making sure the process is effective. Becoming agile ensures that effort is focused on producing business value, constantly re-aligning to business needs, and delivering an early ROI.

Organisations that offer flexible working practices and locations will continue to be attractive to new candidates. On the whole people are striving to achieve a good work life balance, no longer are contractors and project managers happy with working away from home for weeks on end returning to faceless hotel rooms. Organisations that are smart about locating their people on projects close to home will attract and retain their talent.

Most of us will be familiar with the term but unlike software tools you can’t buy a self-directed work team and configure them for immediate deployment. The level of independence a team has will depend on the organisational constraints placed on it. A company should define what it means by a ‘self-directed work team’ up-front because at its purest level a team like this could potentially select members, determine remuneration, discipline team members, agree holiday leave and the list goes on. 

The move to an empowered team-based approach to software development is a huge change for the industry and will not be without its challenges. Not all employees will welcome these changes, such change will be perceived as a threat to some and as with any change programme it is to be feared. Many people prefer to work on their own the way they have done for many years, they may not want to learn new skills or collaborate with others. This will remain a challenge for 2011 and some battles will be lost because of this.

A change is taking place in the IT Industry that will have a major impact on the way organisations look to recruit software development people in 2011 and beyond. The so-called ‘hard skills’ such as an applicant’s technology skills, qualifications, and certifications will simply be an entry requirement and a greater focus should be placed on the ‘softer skills’ such as team player, self-organisation and a ‘can-do’ attitude.

The core competencies that a recruiter should now be looking for are the behavioural skills. Whilst these are sometimes difficult to extract, a skilled recruiter with a competency based recruitment method should be able to identify applicants who will not only suit new ways of working but also enhance the team.

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In 2007, Julian Holmes co-founded UPMentors to help organisations successfully deliver and cope with complex IT projects by transforming people’s software delivery capabilities. Since then Julian has established a reputation of software project delivery and capability to his clients. He is passionate about people in software development and believes that software delivery projects will fail without the right culture, education and collaboration. Julian speaks annually at the global IBM Rational Software Conference and also around the world at regional IBM and other industry events.