Gartner Group, the self-appointed (and often wildly incorrect) prognosticators of all things IT are at it again, commenting in this article that the natural first reaction to the current economic climate should be cutting “people costs” by “freezing headcount, reducing/eliminating bonuses and reducing regional support.” While this advice may have been applicable ten years ago when organizations wantonly hired anyone that could spell HTML, most IT organizations these days are fairly lean on the personnel front and the overwhelming majority evaluate their resources and encourage some level of churn.
Like any service-based organization, IT’s success lies in the capabilities of its people. The bits, bytes, servers and cable are nothing without competent people to administer them, and more importantly facilitate execution of the company’s strategic objectives through technology. The technology component of IT has become such a commodity that people truly are the differentiator between one IT organization and the next.
Moves like arbitrary hiring freezes are a great way to save a few bucks in the short term, but in the long run rot the core of your IT organization. Rather than running for the hills leaving a flurry of pink slips in your wake, an economic recession is the time to make IT more visible, and a more active player in your organization. Share IT’s successes with everyone, and approach peers across the business with ideas on systems or processes that might help them control their costs. Promoting IT successes and detailing the value IT has produced are far more effective than routing your biggest asset in the name of cost-cutting.