Have you delighted a customer lately?

Julie_webI’m sure you’ve heard of the term “delighting a customer”, where organisations make a great impression on a customer by going just the little bit further than expected. Well, I’m very glad to say ITCRA had one of these moments recently.

As an industry association one of the key benefits we provide to the employment sector is information – not always at our fingertips but, like the octopus with a brain on every tentacle, we have a bank of ‘knowledge’, resources and contacts.

And, I have to say, the questions often come from unexpected quarters which makes for interesting conversations around the meeting table when we report on the latest requests to the Research Committee.

Here’s what happened recently. I received a call from a global technology corporation with an office in remote regional Australia who was looking for information about rates for ICT contractors in their area. They were not having any luck sourcing the information they needed, as much of data was related to capital cities.

However, Google soon lead them to ITCRA. They found the ITCRA Trends Report cited on several IT trade news and blog sites but no mention of their particular setting.

So they picked up the phone and were discussing their challenge with me and asked if we might have any remuneration data on the roles they were looking to recruit in their region. Not a problem was my confident answer – as I knew there would be someone in our “knowledge” bank who could find the answer.

Within minutes I was in touch with our research experts at BurningGlass and gave them a quick brief. Soon after, BurningGlass were mining their data and comparing various roles and rates. Within 40 minutes of taking the initial call I had a market summary and rate estimates from BurningGlass and was sharing it with the global company, along with the latest Trends Report that didn’t cover the specific region in question but did profile Members who participate in our “market knowledge” program – SkillsMatch.

The response was, “Thanks for the email. Wow! This data is impressive – and in such a short turnaround. There are some differences in what I am seeing in the market here but it gives me a validated starting point – accepting it is based on a sample from your source”

This caller was expecting to wait days before receiving a response, not minutes. I think saying he was “delighted” is an understatement.

Did I make a sale with this? No.

Did I get a new Member? No.

Did I do my job? Yes because:

  • ITCRA delivered on its commitment to provide business intelligence to the market and to profile ITCRA Members
  • A global company who engages contractors now knows the ITCRA brand and the names of all companies who support the knowledge program (ie SkillsMatch Partners)
  • BurningGlass demonstrated its agility and its responsiveness to a quite challenging request and validated its place as a Gold Partner.

In continuing with the knowledge theme ITCRA has just released the ICT Employment Trends report for Q4 (Oct-Dec) 2015.

The results in this quarter’s Report reflect the continued trend of a slight shift in the proportion of roles in the market away from contract towards permanent positions. In the last quarter of 2015, 16% of new roles were for permanent positions. This has risen from 9% since the start of the year. Interestingly there was a jump in the proportion of permanent roles in New South Wales to 20%, whereas the previous high was 13%. To my NSW network reading this – is there something happening in NSW that can explain this spike or is it an anomaly?

Our analysis of market activity, in terms of the time it takes to fill roles, showed that across Australia the average time to fill permanent roles has decreased during 2015 from 67 to 45 days – is this a sign we are moving towards a buyer’s market?

We are also noticing a shift in the remuneration relationship between contract and permanent roles. Contract roles appear to be decreasing in value compared to over a year ago. Nationally, contractors’ average hourly rates have shifted from earning 58% more than permanent roles in Q1 2015, to now earning 23% more.

My instincts tell me that this trend will not continue given the size of the country’s contractor market. Rather, this is perhaps a reflection a shift of senior level roles moving from contract to permanent positions.

You can visit itcra.com to contribute data or subscribe to the report … and delight your customers with your knowledge (with a little bit of help from ITCRA)!

 

Knowledge – use it or lose it!

Peter Drucker, the well-known management thinker once said: “knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.”

In other words – use it or lose it!

Richard Earl, CEO of Talent, echoed this sentiment at ITCRA’s most recent CEO’s Circle held in Sydney. He reminded those in the room that, between them and the broader contracting and recruitment sector, there is more information about talent, workforce participation, market needs and skills than any other aggregation of data and we must harness the collective knowledge and use it!

For me, ITCRA’s ICT Employment Trends Report is a great example of harnessing the industry’s collective knowledge. We regularly capture data from many of Australia’s key ICT contracting and recruitment firms, and supplement this with data from BurningGlass and SEEK on Australia and New Zealand – not to mention analysing every relevant economic indicator we can get our hands on.

I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to those Member firms that so diligently provide their monthly stats to ITCRA. Your ongoing support is GREATLY appreciated!

So back to Drucker’s point. Yes we are capturing the knowledge. I can certainly say it is often challenged, as there is regularly a healthy blog response and dialogue in social media that accompanies each quarterly report. We are also enjoying an increased depth of information thanks to introduction of SEEK data for Australia and New Zealand.

Finally – are we using it? I know of several Member firms that use all the analysis we make available (Trends, RIB, R&B) that ITCRA Makes available as part of Membership, to assist in their forecasting, business planning and informing their clients.

I am also proud to say we are also using our data to inform Governments.

Most recently Russell MacDonald, ITCRA past-president, attended a roundtable discussion with the Victorian Department of Economic Development on my behalf. The discussion highlighted their appetite for greater data on the ICT professional services sector. Russell, a strong advocate of ITCRA’s ICT Employment Trends Report, provided them with a copy of the latest Report and monthly dashboard and some detailed commentary on why it was so relevant to the roundtable discussion.

A number of State and Federal agencies subscribe to ITCRA to receive data updates and request unique reports, as well as our white papers and issues commentary.  It is a strong message, to be known as the “go to” source for information that matters.

I am firmly of the view that the more ITCRA disseminates this unique market information to Government the more we will, as a voice for our Members, help create productive debate and consequently support informed policy formation on workforce planning and talent management across Australia and New Zealand.

And talking about ITCRA research, we recently released at latest ITCRA ICT Employment Trends Report for the July to September quarter. The data indicates that the Australian market is continuing to show signs of maturity and strength.

Contract roles still dominate the market, however the data shows that the proportion of permanent to contract roles shifting slightly each quarter from a ratio of:

  • 9% to 81% in Q1,
  • 11% to 89% in Q2, and
  • 14% to 86% in Q3.

Nothing dramatic – but worth watching.

In New Zealand the market is still variable. Over the last 12 months the number of ICT Job Ads have decreased by 21% according to SEEK, however the good news is that there was a pick up in activity in September.

You can read more in our report here.

Q2 Trends suggest there is plenty of activity in ICT

Trends_SkillsMatch Q2,2015v2After writing about the virtues of, and growth in, contracting I have recently noticed discussion that there has been a subtle shift to an increase in permanent roles in ICT. My first response was “you’re pulling my leg, aren’t you?”

Yet, being very close to my numbers, I proudly recite that the previous ratio of contract to permanent roles of 80% to 20% shifted about 12 months ago to 87% to 13%. In fact in ITCRA’s latest ICT Employment Report for Q2 2015 it is sitting at a ratio 89% to 11%. So I felt I had put that discussion to bed.

But then I hear anecdotes from ITCRA Members of an emerging trend where contractors are being hired as permanents by employers. It is important to recognise that almost 90% of the hires are still in contracting, so we are observing this shift of a very low base – but still it is worth noting.

In some sectors and markets where there is a need to develop and maintain internal talent as well as ensure currency of skills, both employers and contractors are shifting their focus to permanency.

Personal branding messages constantly remind ICT talent, in fact all talent, they are responsible for ensuring their value proposition is strong and reflects ongoing training and upskilling. This requires investment by individuals and employers and is often facilitated more expeditiously in permanent roles.

Our latest Trends Report also suggests volatility in remuneration for both contracting (negative trends) and permanent (slight steady upward). We’ll be monitoring this to determine whether this is the result of some unusual spikes due to certain projects with unique salaries in the mix, or whether there is a more permanent adjustment in the rates being paid.

According to the Trends Reports since Q3 2014 (October – December 2014) to Q2 2015 (April to June 2015) the national average for hourly rates for permanent roles has increased only slightly from $63.19 to $65.49 – in other words steady. However, the national average for contract hourly rates has plummeted from $110.03 to $86.33 over the same period. This trend was evident in April and the decline has continued.

Other indicators are showing employers are making permanent roles more attractive by bundling extra non-financial benefits into their packages (such as working from home, flexible hours, mobile phone allowance and free car parking) to entice ICT professionals to make a long-term commitment.

This is all part of the environment of ‘permanently changing’ models for companies in the contracting and recruitment sector and represents the constant agility that forward thinking companies need to apply to their business strategy to actively engage with, and endeavour to forecast to, if they are to have a strong market presence.

While developments such as the “so called” disruptive online solutions and alternate business models are rethinking recruitment practice, adding complexity and competition, I believe it is the engagement models for talent that are at the core of the constantly changing market.

Every company in the contracting and recruitment market can, and should, use all the data resources available to inform their direction and strategy as the variations are to our favour as we become the informed partners in talent management decision making.

Having said that, constant change in market forces makes forecasting for business owners, and for recruitment industry CEOs like me, a challenge. But, to quote a recent new ITCRA Member who heads up an internal recruitment team for an international corporate:

“I have been an agency recruiter, an agency recruiter on a client site, part of an RPO, an owner and now heading up an international internal team across multiple companies and the challenge of the market trends has always been my greatest driver – it makes the sector so dynamic and doesn’t allow for humdrum”

I couldn’t have said it better myself and the Trends Report, as a snapshot over a number of data sets, has certainly over the past 18 months been anything but humdrum. One thing is crystal clear: the overwhelming market trend in ICT (and in other professional sectors) here, and globally, is to contracting.

In closing, the good news is that the Trends Report tracks the overall market in terms of advertised ICT roles through our partner BurningGlass. After two months of decline both the Australian and New Zealand indices increased. The Australian index is almost back to its Q3 2014 peak, while New Zealand has reached a two-year high – so everyone should have plenty of activity to go on with!

Would you agree?