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AFRIK-IT  March 1998

AFRIK-IT March 1998

Subject:

DEVMODL: Topic 004: Y2k Skills and Staffing

From:

Chris Anderson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Sun, 22 Mar 1998 13:13:47 GMT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (330 lines)

DEVMODL: Topic 004: Skills and Staffing for Y2k

This article forms part of the "Y2k MODEL FOR
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES" Series.

A Powerpoint Presentation on this Topic can be
downloaded from
ftp://www.cinderella.co.za/pub/skills.zip

PURPOSE: To address Items 5 and 6 in the Preamble to
the Model:

5. Skills.  Y2k skills are not readily available in the
affected areas.  A communications network will be
necessary to provide remote support for technical
issues.

6. Staffing.  Skilled resource will be difficult to
obtain in light of existing world-wide shortages and
escalating rates

------------------------------

We already know that there are Skills shortages and
staffing difficulties in parts of the Developing World.
In fact it will become a World-wide problem.

In South Africa for example, the official statistics
say we are Losing 50 Skills a month (Computing SA Jan
1998).  Unofficial sources put the numbers as high as
250 a month.

It also appears that for Skilled People, Only Overseas
Jobs are being offered, Local firms are not Hiring.

There are many reasons for this.  Interestingly exit
interviews reveal that "Management attitude" is
considered more of an issue than the more obvious
reasons such as "Money attractive", "Urban violence",
"New Labour Law".

I also consider one of the difficulties in finding
staff to be Unrealistic screening. Why are we asking
for candidates with a Degree and 5 years experience for
really quite junior positions?

We expect Skilled People to spring fully trained from
the ground (like Dragons Teeth), but have put no
investment into training of school leavers.

Modern Computing practice has changed the goalposts in
respect of the traditional definition of Programmer and
Analyst.  But I suspect that our selection techniques
have not kept pace, raising the question of
Inappropriate Aptitude testing.

In some parts of the world, Hiring Freezes and cutbacks
in Budget are a reality.

A reality that is also preventing new hires is the
perception "We Don't Know How To Fire Them at The End
Of The Project".  A red flag to any red-blooded Union
representative.  But this is a real world reason for
not hiring permanent staff.  Contractors and Temporary
staff are perceived as a more attractive proposition.

Unemployment in developing countries is on the increase
and we have raised these artificial barriers.

We know we need these Skills, the question is Where do
we get Them?

The Options:

- Retrain existing staff

- Contractors

- Part-time & home-workers

- School-leavers

The Y2k effort is like an Iceberg.  The IT problem,
like the portion of the Iceberg above the Waterline, is
perceived as the entire problem.  This a fallacy.  The
Y2k issue goes far beyond this, the business issues can
be thought of as the hidden "Underwater" portion of the
Iceberg, potentially far bigger than the IT problem.

The Titanic sank because it hit the underwater portion
of the iceberg.

However consider the PROFILE of people we actually NEED
for Y2k:

HINT: it is NOT a technical profile.

- BUSINESS SKILLS

We need People who know the Business.  They need to be
able to climb into the systems and procedures and
uncover the flaws.

- CLERICAL SKILLS

Y2k results in a mound of paperwork.  Essential Tool
Skills such as Wordprocessing, Spreadsheets etc can be
taught.

- ACCURACY AND COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS

We need people who can perform repetitive, boring tasks
with accuracy and speed.

- ADMINISTRATIVE SKILLS

We need Project Managers and Administrators.

TESTING CONSIDERATIONS

We know that Testing represents 50% to 75% of the Y2k
Task.

Who have more Motivation to make sure that the bugs are
eliminated than the people who are going to Use the
Systems after 2000.

Would you trust anybody else to test a system that you
use every day?

So Where does the Responsibility Lie?

With The End User.  This is after all a Business
Problem

AN APPROACH

We need a Multi-disciplinary Approach to Staffing for
the Y2k Problem.

Here is a suggestion for a Y2k Staffing Model.

Y2k Skills Structure

Y2k Project leader  --> Y2k Project Understudy

Architect (Super Mentor)

Technical Mentor
|
Team Member --> Assistant --> Assistant
|
Trainee

Business Mentor
|
Team Member --> Assistant --> Assistant
|
Trainee


PROFILES:

------------------------------------------------

TITLE: Y2k Project Leader

- Full-time position

- Must have In-Depth Knowledge of Business

- Good Project Management Skills

- Negotiation Skills

- An Understudied position

> Cannot afford to lose during project. Good compromise
is one Business, One technical

> Usually has IT background

------------------------------------------------

TITLE: Architect

- Not necessarily a permanent position

- Typically external Consultant

- Requires in-depth Y2k skills

- Responsible for:

> Design of Master Plan

> Training of Project Leaders

> Presentation of Problem at High Level

> Technical Advice & Leadership

------------------------------------------------

TITLE: Business Mentor

- Coopted Internally

- Senior Position

- Knows business and has influence within Organisation

- Negotiation skills

- Responsible for Business Aspects of Project:

> Customers and Vendors

> Infrastructure

> Contingency fallbacks

> Risk Management

------------------------------------------------

TITLE: Technical Mentor

- Senior IT person

- In-depth Knowledge of Existing Systems

- High level of technical expertise

- Responsible for Technical Feasibility

> Verification process

> Risk Management

------------------------------------------------

TITLE: Team Member

- Programmers or Business People coopted internally

- Practical experience

- Return to Business at end of Project

------------------------------------------------

TITLE: Team Assistant

- Clerical people coopted internally

- Have knowledge of business

- Can be taught basic Skills e.g.  Excel, Access etc

- Return to Business at end of Project


------------------------------------------------

TITLE: Trainee

- Junior staff coopted or New Hire

- Clerical Skills

- Require Training in Specific Project related skills

- Absorbed into Business at end of Project

----------------------------------------------------

TEAM SIZE

This model assumes a maximum Team Size.

The crucial proportion for team size is 1:3

Obviously multiple teams can report to the same person
but when actually doing work on a subproject task no
more than 3 people should be involved.

This rationale is adapted from a very successful IBM
concept from the 70's.

TRAINING

The logical succession to this model is to examine Y2k
Training

- Nobody has done this before

- Specific Y2k training required for all Participants

- Board and Senior Management also need "Training" to
alert them to the risks and realities of Y2k

- "Tailor-made" task specific training for individuals

And most importantly, Training must be Designed

There is already a source for Introductory Y2k Material

Laragh Courseware
Year 2000: Training for Non-IS Managers
email: [log in to unmask]
http://www.laragh.com/

But as individual organisations, we still need to
Design and Implement specific training for:

- Project Team

- Technical Team

- Rest of Organisation

- Top Management

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chris Anderson          email:                       [log in to unmask]
Y2K Cinderella Project          [log in to unmask]
http://www.cinderella.co.za             Striving for Year 2000 Compliance
------------------------------------------------------------------------

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