From InformationWeek -- "The slow economy plus alternatives such as SaaS and open source could pressure vendors into offering lower-cost options." Maybe, but customers also gravitate to "safe choices" when there is a lot of market uncertainty.
Let me state up front that this post is my personal opinion, not a Gartner opinion. Dennis Howlett posted on ZDNet about a debate on certification of consultants. There is a good discussion there of some of the viewpoints. I believe certification has some value in some cases, but customers should not rely on certifications alone in picking consulting firms or individual consultants. First, no ERP project is done by a firm. It is done by individual consultants working with client project team members (and even third-party contractors). So, even if a firm participates in a vendor-sponsored certification program, that does not make all consultants from that firm who have certification equally qualified. That is kind of obvious. However, choosing the right individuals from a firm to work on your project team is a little more complicated.
Let's take an example where one of the roles you are looking to fill on your project is a team leader role. Certification might include knowing a certain implementation methodology, product capabilities, technology, etc. It would be possible to certify that someone has that knowledge. However, they might need other skills as well. In a large complex implementation, a work stream may be a project in and of itself (that is, part of a larger program). So, project management certification might be useful. That could come from a vendor or from a third-party organization.
So far so good. The next thing you might look at is experience. There is a difference between someone who may have worked at a customer organization and achieved all of these certifications and now is working at a consulting firm vs. someone who has work 5-10 years on multiple projects (especially if it is projects of similar complexity). This is a cost/benefit tradeoff. The first person could be a good fit if the customer organization had similar issues. They would likely be less expensive. On the other hand, the second person might be a better fit for a client that wants a broader base of experience (and is willing to pay for it). Note, this has nothing to do with certifications. Certifications alone does not tell you who is a better fit. This is why I often recommend to clients that you want firms to propose specific individuals for key roles on a project and why it is important not to do just general firm reference checking, but checking references for those individuals in key roles.
Lastly, you might consider culture fit. People and organizations have different styles and cultures and sometimes they just do not mesh. So, an individual could have the best qualifications (including certifications) in the world for a team leader, but if their style and manner does not fit into the culture of the customer, it will be difficult for the person to succeed in the role. Thus far I have focused on one individual role. On a large, global project the complexity becomes much greater. There are many more key roles that need to be scrutinized. In addition, culture fit (and the ability to implement change in the organization) also has to be considered at the project team level. Does the group of people who are proposed from a specific firm (and the firm itself) "fit in" at this organization? You would be surprised how frequently this is a differentiates firms in a consulting services selection.
I am purposefully staying away from the political/relationship dimension here. However, that adds another layer of complexity to the decision. Getting back to the main point. Certifications are useful in understanding certain qualifications, but there is a lot more (like understanding what is truly relevant experience and understanding culture fit) to making a good consulting choice.
This is a great post. It provides specific advice on how to use workforce analytics to understand the linkage between talent-related investments and business outcomes. For Gartner clients, this is a nice compliment to "Unlocking the Strategic Value From Talent Management Application Investments".
My fellow Gartner analyst Anthony Bradley has a really good post about our research on various reference articles (Gartner subscription required). HRIT professionals should use these notes as primer for how software architectures are evolving.
My Gartner colleague Jeff Woods is preparing to respond to some questions from the Wall Street Journal about the impact of the economy on the software market. He asked me and some other analysts what we are seeing in the different markets we cover. He specifically asked if we are seeing demand for something like layoff modeling capabilities. Here is the answer I provided:
We would consider that functionality as part of a broader workforce planning solution. There are some clients looking at these solutions to model different workforce reduction scenarios to understand the impacts on a variety of different variables (costs, critical skills, knowledge/experience, etc.), but they are still somewhat few and far between (and the technology to do this is relatively new and immature). I did discuss this in the note I wrote on Building the Benefits Case for Talent Management Investment (Gartner subscription required) for the Quest for Talent Special Report last month.
I would say there is more of a move towards the basics. HR, like everyone else, is facing lower budgets and potential headcount reductions so they are looking at opportunities to improve HR efficiencies. Unfortunately, they are missing the bigger opportunity to help the business.
Do you agree? Is Finance running roughshod over everyone including HR? Whenever there are challenges, there are opportunities as well. HR should be leading the charge in advising senior executives as to the most optimal workforce composition. I will be interested to see if we see successful CEOs during the downturn credit their HR organization for aligning their workforce with the business realities in a way that maximizes competitive advantage and minimizes costs. That would be something, wouldn't it. What do you think? Will we see that story written in the Wall Street Journal in the next two years?
Google has announced on their blog that they are cutting approximately 100 positions from their recruiting organization. Known for many best practices in recruiting, even Google is not immune to the economic challenges.