Human Capital Investments
So, while uncovering the results of my data, what became clear was the impact of the human capital investment to success of IT projects. Specifically, human capital challenges revolve around the following: having dedicated IT staff, using contractors effectively, staff expertise with IT and staff time. Having dedicated IT staff appears to occur in an organization, but the key finding was that challenge these organizations have had in finding the right person. When those interviewed reflected, they realized that either an IT person is focused on the hardware and networking or the programming and database development, but it is not easy to find both. One organization's COO hired three different individuals and took 10 years before finding the right IT staff person. She found that it was important to find an individual who enjoys people, is process oriented, and is a good problem solver, traits which are difficult to find in one individual.
Another challenge is related to using contractors effectively in IT project implementation. The finding show that there is a clear distinction between how organizations use contractors and their size. Small and mid-sized organizations use contractors to provide tactical implementation of IT projects typically without guidance or support of organizational staff. Large sized organizations use contractors to as strategic partners working in collaboration with the internal IT staff. These organizations all struggle and work hard to find those contractors that they can trust.
Staff expertise is another challenge related to the human capital investment. The COO's IT skills as well as general staff skills are critical to success of IT implementation and planning. The COO plays a key role with bridging the tactical side of IT projects to the strategic vision of the organization. These individuals need to have IT training along with the ability to be strategic in their thinking to ensure successful IT implementation in the organization. None of the COOs that I interviewed had any informal or formal training. The IT position was more or less handed to them when their were first hired because of their ability to multitask well. Also, regarding general staff, none of the organizations offered continuing education for the staff. Training was more ad-hoc or offered only when the person first joined the organization. Additionally, some have noted finding it challenging to use the IT skills of staff, particularly related to the younger employees coming to the organizations.
Finally, lack of staff time is really a very large barrier for these organizations. There are three main areas of focus in this area, staff training, project management and information management. These barriers relate to lack of time available or provided to staff. Rather than going into detail here, check out the Staff Time post for more information.