Top 3 HR issues in the IT industry: Not enough good technical guys, not enough enthusiasm, lack of ideas generated bottom-up
I’ve been working in the software industry in Romania for more than 15 years, trying to find my way in different scenarios: off-the-shelf SW implementations, outsourcing, and product development. Each system had its own particularities, its own issues and its own strengths and I enjoyed the road. I still do.During all this time, one of the companies’ main concerns was the same as today: not enough good technical guys, not enough enthusiasm coming from the new recruits, lack of ideas generated bottom-up. This is not an analysis of the whole market, but a lesson about the ways of how to educate new generations. I just want to share the fact that each model I have experienced slowly pushed newcomers away from the other models via internal trainings and work methodologies, but unfortunately, a little bit farther away from the well-known image of the successful IT guys from Silicon Valley, the ones that have changed the world with some brilliant and yet simple ideas.While working for a well-known ERP software, market leading solution, things were pretty clear. The goal of everyone there is to sell as many licenses as possible, while services should be good enough to have the product working and the customer satisfied with the already existing functionalities. Initiative and enthusiasm means change, and change is not quite happily embraced by technology vendors. I remember the typical response of the EMEA upper management: give us enough customers interested in the change so as to have a good business case. Given the low economic power of the clients in Romania this level was never reached. So all initiatives we had at that time as young developers died quickly, most of them haven’t even left the post-it board.
Ask IT outsourcing companies for rigor, processes, speed, and time to market
In outsourcing things are different from many points of view. I have quickly discovered that outsourcing companies are the most advanced ones in terms of rigor, processes, speed, and time to market. This option might be the best “get your feet back on the ground” type of school for a dreamer. Deliver fast, deliver correctly, deliver precisely, this is a fine working mechanism that forces everyone to evolve rapidly. All this means time invested by everyone, so who has time left to find new ideas outside the assigned projects, to create things from scratch? All good ideas are helping the current project, not life in general.Of course, product development should be the ideal place for new ideas. It is the place where imagination and inspiration should give birth to a new star. But what if all the ideas are coming from the sponsor and are dictated by strict economic reasons? What if all the initiatives you had are removed from the board by the end of each meeting? What if it all gets down to execution?Three models, none really encouraging out of the blue ideas. At its best, initiative is mainly targeted towards operational improvement, do more with less, overall efficiency. Which is good, quite useful, mandatory for success, but maybe not enough.
In Romania, almost every young graduate wants to become a developer
One might say that nothing pleases me. Maybe. But one cannot see that, in a country were almost every young graduate wants to become a developer, there is almost no Romanian SW application on the market. Exceptions do exist, but they remain exceptions.Again, looking up to Silicon Valley, business angels seem to be the saving solution. Someone ready to finance initiatives apparently with no immediate, stress-inducing purpose. Business Angels do exist in Romania, but the concept is somehow distorted like many other things in an emerging economy. Too much caution and not enough appetite for risks means that the chances to identify really crazy, life changing initiatives remain hidden and in the end they disappear.As romania-insider.com states: “The turnover in Romania’s software and IT services sector rose by 21% last year compared to the previous year reaching EUR 3.08 billion… The market is still dominated by exports, which account for two-thirds (67%) of the sector’s turnover. The exports of software and IT services reached EUR 2.09 billion last year, up by over 31% compared to 2014.This year, the exports are expected to reach EUR 2.5 billion, more than double compared to the value recorded four years ago. The exports could reach EUR 4 billion in 2019, according to ANIS (the Employers’ Association of the Software and Services Industry in Romania).”This is very good news for all of us, financially, economically etc. speaking. Still, this also means that this industry will absorb more and more people ready to deliver and another long list of personal initiatives will be left aside.
Romania in need of business angels, not only talent incubators, academies and summer schools
No matter how utopic this might sound, I would like to see more and more companies playing the role of business angels as well, the same as Pentalog does it with its Pentalabbs startup incubator. I’m not only talking here about talent incubators, academies and summer schools.I agree that on a short time this goes against their own objectives. Why should a company making 100 million euros per year invest in let’s say 5-10 start-ups generating some tens of thousands euros per year? The possible short term outcome is irrelevant to their revenue and it will directly and negatively impact recruitment. 10 – 20 smart developers can make around 1 – 1.5 million euros on the European market with almost no sales effort. But the idea of having the opportunity to jump out of a project might energize a lot more than 20 developers: most of us aspire to create something else. Not to mention the safety net of coming back if things go wrong with their startup.Especially when the rest of the companies have non-motivated, non-energetic employees to “invite” new people from. So recruitment might be the first beneficiary in the end.Who knows, maybe on the long term all this will help Romania, as an important source of software development in the EU, to keep being competitive at all levels of the IT industry, not only in the outsourcing industry, but also as a laboratory of life changing technologies.