Letter . To the Editor

Interesting article in Nov. 17 issue (“Outsourcing, network intelligence trends threaten to pare down IS departments”, p. 28). I have seen this trend even in government. The main reason, however, for government moving in this direction appears to be that we cannot retain enough skilled employees to properly manage our networks.

My view, however, is you need to think like The Great One (Wayne Gretzky) on this: five steps ahead. If you simply shed bodies, then expertise and corporate knowledge walks out the door. Also gone is your ability to assess if you are getting the service and value for the large contract$ you sign with network management companies. Most companies who downsize in attempts to save salary lose their competitive advantage and either end up going bankrupt, taken over, or merge with other companies to survive. I won’t be surprised if many firms and even governments make the same mistake again, and again. The short-term gain of salary savings is still too tempting for some.

The smart thing to do is analyze what parts of your business can be farmed out, who will negotiate, manage and police the performance of these companies, and determine measurement tools so you can assess when and if you need to get out of a service agreement, change suppliers, or go back to doing some things in-house. Retraining your network professionals with account management and people skills will help in retaining the talent you need for either scenario. Not that this will be easy, though, given the fact that your suppliers and competitors will still be gunning to hire your employees due to continued shortages of IT staff in general.

I certainly plan to do everything I can as a public servant to ensure I am prepared for change; in fact, I have already adjusted my training plans. The challenges I face is to educate and convince politicians, policy makers and our management staff to be proactive, and creative, and also think like The Great One when dealing with these issues.

Please note that my comments are personal and in no way reflect the position of my employer or its representatives.

Pierre Laframboise