Justifying New IT Hires

Monday Oct 13th 2008 by Jennifer Perrier-Knox

Convincing senior management to make a permanent increase to the operational budget can be a challenge. Increase the chances of getting approval for hiring by following Info-Tech’s seven key steps.

Most IT departments could use more staff but justifying staff additions to company executives can get complicated. When realities such as space and budget get in the way the chances of adding a new-hire get slim. There are, however, several approaches to building a strong business case for adding IT staff. Before jumping the gun and simply asking for extra staff, it is important to understand both sides of the corporate coin.

Right and Wrong Reasons to Hire

There are right reasons and wrong reasons to want a new hire. Examine the list below, and build an argument that supports the right reasons.

The Right Reasons…

• It helps meet stated business goals and objectives.

• The company is losing money by having to turn down work.

• The company is missing potential revenue because staff is barely getting by.

• Resources are being wasted because overqualified workers are doing low-skill tasks.

• Client/end-user feedback indicates that quality is suffering.

• Staff morale is in decline, which could lead to increased turnover-related costs.

The Wrong Reasons…

• Someone is trying to get away with doing less work.

• There is a desire to pass off boring grunt work.

• A bottleneck has developed due to poor planning and organization.

• Processes are out of date and are creating inefficiencies.

• Staff training has fallen behind.

• Workload increases are temporary and a short-term contractor would do.

Action Plan

Maximize the chances of gaining approval for a new-hire by following these seven steps:

1. Map skills. List all the skills that are currently needed, the skills likely to be needed in the future, and the skills that the current staff possess. Use the Info-TechAdvisor “IT Skills Inventory Chart” and “IT Skills Assessment Table” to help identify the gaps. It is particularly important to take future projects and implementations into account since staff may not have the skills to handle the new work.

2. Assess current staffing levels. There are several time-tracking tools available in the marketplace and the Info-Tech Advisor “IT Time Tracking Tool” is one of them. Use the tool to map employees to the roles they perform. Estimate the number of employees needed to meet present or future workloads and identify where the organization is experiencing a staffing shortfall. Staff might initially rebel because it smacks of "spying," so explain that the goal is to demonstrate to senior management how hard they are really working.

3. Assess hiring alternatives. Senior management will naturally assume that staff is not working at full capacity or that hiring can be avoided. Ensure the evidence is in place to support a business case before proposing any changes. Areas to investigate include:

• Automation - Is there a technological solution that will increase productivity?

• Underperformers - Are there a few laggards who are slowing down the team?

• Training - Will increased training for select individuals fill the skills gap?

• Trends - Is the current workload just a temporary blip?

4. Add up the costs. Determine the actual cost of getting a new hire in place and up to speed. Salary costs are one thing, but it does not stop there. Collaborate with HR to get accurate hiring costs. A careful cost-benefit analysis will show that the hire is an investment, not just a cost. Honesty with senior management on this front will demonstrate the fiscal awareness necessary for success.

5. Have a Superstar in Mind. If there is already an excellent candidate for the proposed position, his or her credentials alone might "wow" senior management and help win the buy-in needed to get this person on board.

6. Consider Temps. Regardless of what is presented there may not be senior management buy-in to a full-time permanent hire. It may be easier to get approval for a temporary worker, especially if dealing with new tasks with an unproven workload. Bringing in a temporary contract person can help prove that there is enough work to be done on an ongoing basis and eventually justify a permanent hire.

7. Make The Case in Person. Any hiring proposal is more likely to be dismissed or overlooked if it is in the form of a memo. Arrange a face-to-face meeting with key members of senior management to analyze and review the business case and overcome objections as they arise. Be diligent and keep at it.

Bottom Line

Convincing senior management of making a permanent increase to the operational budget can be a challenge. Increase the chances of getting approval for hiring by following Info-Tech’s seven key steps.

Jennifer Perrier-Knox is a senior research analyst with the Info-Tech Research Group.

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