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In Turbulent Times, Take Stock of IT Staff

By Judith Pennington, Accenture Generational Differences, Budgets Challenge Banks' Leadership Growth Initia</span><div class=

By Judith Pennington, Accenture

Special Report: Optimizing the Workforce
Generational Differences, Budgets Challenge Banks' Leadership Growth InitiativesDearth of Banking-Focused Information Security Education Could Be DetrimentalThe Success of Bank M&As Can Hinge on IT Talent RetentionPerformance and Productivity Management Key to Banks' Long-Term SurvivalIn Turbulent Times, Take Stock of IT Staff
In today's challenging market environment, it may be tempting to minimize investments in building and maintaining a strong IT workforce. But that would be a mistake. At a time when financial institutions are highly reliant on IT to be more efficient, IT employees are a critical workforce segment.

Banks should seize the moment by assessing their IT workforce for the right skills and capabilities to help drive business results. Accenture's most recent High-Performance Workforce Study shows that a distinctive characteristic of high-performing companies with respect to workforce development is close involvement by functional heads-not just HR and learning executives. IT executives must become more engaged in workforce transformation initiatives if the IT function is to achieve its potential.

Avoid these problems. Giving short shrift to the ongoing development of the IT workforce can inhibit competitiveness, resulting in: • Low quality. Studies routinely show that at least 30 percent of IT projects are delivered late and/or over budget. • Rework. Between 30 percent to 50 percent of staff time is generally spent on fixes and rework. • Poor morale. High numbers of companies-75 percent in one study-report morale problems in the IT workforce. A dispirited and disengaged workforce cannot adequately keep up with the pace of the business. • High costs. A disengaged IT workforce results in higher costs. For example, a 5 percent increase in attrition results in a 20 percent increase in staffing costs. And even that figure does not account for the loss of knowledge that occurs whenever experienced workers walk out the door.

Seek measurable improvements. Measurable improvements in the performance of the IT workforce can be achieved by following these four principles:

• Standardize skills. At one U.S. financial institution, the IT department identified nearly 700 skills for its staff of 500. But only approximately 200 of those skills were actually critical for supporting the business. Training and development plans should be focused on the rule, rather than the exception. IT departments should apply standardization principles to their competency models. With a standardized skills infrastructure, better long-range workforce planning can be done to identify people and skill sets needed to succeed.

• Simplify job categories. Defining 15 to 20 job families-such as business analysis, architecture, applications, infrastructure engineering, and project management-prevents the proliferation of job categories which drives up costs at many banks. Jobs are more clearly classified by key skills and responsibilities, and IT managers find it easier to leverage talent across multiple projects and work areas. Skill development and career management is also improved because it is easier to rotate top performers through different types of jobs, improving their understanding of the business and, therefore, their ability to meet business needs.

• Manage supply and demand. Workforce capacity planning is essential. What competencies and skills are likely to be in demand in the next three to five years? How is workforce supply being affected by attrition, retirements and a new generation of workers coming onto the scene? Analyzing the IT department's present and future needs can help the training function develop a more nuanced model for who needs what kind of training and how it should be delivered.

• Eliminate skill gaps. Performing a competency and skills inventory of the IT workforce helps identify skill gaps that can compromise the ability of the IT function to do its job. An inventory will also highlight areas of overstaffing. CIOs must also understand where their potential single points of failure are in the IT workforce, particularly as aging IT workers begin to retire in increasing numbers.

Banks are looking to their IT professionals to provide the innovation, expertise and efficiencies to drive high performance. That IT execution, in turn, will be determined by how effectively an organization leads, enables and engages its IT workforce.

Judith Pennington leads IT global workforce transformation services for Accenture's Financial Services group. She is based in Minneapolis. Tom Kraack, senior executive at Accenture, leads the talent management practice for the Financial Services group in North America. He is based in Minneapolis.

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