Human Element Befuddles IT Depts

IT departments are struggling to properly address human resource problems, particularly issues in attraction and retention of key staff.

According to Julie Perigo, principal, Korn/Ferry International, IT management must take more time to address both the 'hard' (salary) and soft issues (flexible hours, casual dress, and training) in human resources management. Unfortunately, effective management in these areas is often thwarted by prevailing HR policies on matters such as work conditions and pay relativities. These constraints are most pronounced in traditional ‘bricks and mortar' companies, observe the authors of a study conducted jointly by Mercer Cullen Egan Dell and Korn/Ferry International.

Titled 'e-commerce Remuneration Review', the study examined 31 e-commerce related positions and found that the two types of organisations (B&M and e-space) can be differentiated on the basis of remuneration for many senior executive sales and marketing and technical positions.

Interestingly, an executive summary of the study noted that "anecdotes of widespread ‘pay gone mad' were not supported by survey findings."

On the plus side for many B&Ms, many start-up ‘e-space' businesses suffer constant cashflow pressure, which also makes it hard for them to sustain attractive packages. However, the differences in remuneration and work practices offered for e-commerce positions within 'bricks and mortar' and what they call the ‘e-space' firms does give e-commerce professionals many alternative choices.

"The explosion of new technology based businesses mean the competition for talent is intense, and as usual the IT people within an organisation, especially if it has an e-focus, are highly sought after," Perigo saidShe claimed that said the study gives IT managers an indication of some of the competitive pressures and an insight into how new and old firms are dealing with them. The study shows that the well known pressing issues for IT managers persist - shortages of skills and experience, especially in an e- or Internet environments.

Positions in which shortages were pronounced included Web developers, content specialists, marketing and business development managers.

Ilya Bonic, principal, Mercer Cullen Egan Dell said IT managers need to be strong communicators and must clearly understand the capability of their staff and the resources that have to be devoted to them.

"They need to give a realistic assessment of their capacity to deliver on business objectives. So the role of the IT manager is more than the technical/functional [aspect] of managing a project. Management of the people issues will increasingly distinguish your average and superior IT manager."

" [The study] will help IT managers gain maximum value from their salary budgets in terms of paying the right amount to attract candidates and by paying the right amount to recognise the growth and contribution of existing staff," he said.

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