Your shout: skills, Mifid, shared services, IT processes

Your shout: readers have their say

Government is beginning to address the skills gap

Karl Parkinson, chairman, Computeach International

I read with great interest the article by Rebecca Thomson entitled "European Commission plans blue card to ease IT skills shortage". The fact that Britain is likely to opt out of the scheme comes as a relief to me. Although encouraging skilled foreign workers to help plug the UK skills gap is an option, it should, in my opinion, be secondary to exploiting existing capabilities here in the UK.

I am pleased that the government openly recognises the skills gap and is considering a variety of solutions. But what it is only beginning to acknowledge is that the missing link is training.

People need to be encouraged and supported by the government to retrain for a career in sectors threatened by skills shortages, such as IT and engineering. The current system falls short, as funding for government training schemes is channelled through employers, so training for a new career while working is inaccessible for thousands of people.

But there is hope on the horizon. The government's development of Skills Accounts that would release funds directly to individuals will provide a practical starting point. Giving individuals a choice and a financial incentive to retrain offers a positive outlook, and should be a reassurance to industry that there is a solution to the skills crisis.

Finance firms awaiting assurance on Mifid

Alec D Bruce, Global Solutions Services, Hitachi Data Systems

I was interested to read Karl Flinders' article "Finance firms wait and see on Mifid".

It is not surprising that many firms are deferring spending money to upgrade their IT infrastructures, as data from the Mifid Joint Working Group for IT indicates that the average Mifid programme costs a UK bank between £8m and £12m.

However, I think that the hesitation to spend on Mifid compliance stems from issues regarding the functionality of Mifid. Most firms are implementing the durable storage mediums to keep information on dealings and customer interactions.

However, we see that firms are awaiting guidance from the regulators on the search, recover and presentation of information to give evidence of best execution and product sales. It is inevitable that compliance will be a gradual and phased process, as Mifid will change and improve both front, middle and back office processes and cannot be taken lightly.

People are key to making shared services work

Shub Naha, IDOX

As highlighted in your round-up of the Socitm conference, the shared services debate continues to rage across local government. The technology aspect remains a sticking point, but in our experience of being involved in such projects, people are the major barrier to shared services.

The main challenge is a cultural one of getting buy-in from senior management who may feel it poses a threat to their autonomy. The key to making shared services work is to understand that even though the people, processes and technology within organisations may be shared, policy formulation and decisions can still take place at the appropriate authority level.

Sharing services for the benefit of the community should be seen as an opportunity to deliver excellent services, valued by all stakeholders.

Look to staff to unlock the value of IT processes

Nolon Owen, risk governance and assurance (Framework Assurance), NU UK IT Services

Regarding "Understand your department's DNA", Hugo Trepant's statement, "The concept originated from a desire to distil years of experience about the factors that differentiate successful companies from their competitors," has been considered many times over the years and resulted in the documentation of numerous IT best practice models.

The areas of concern Trepant highlights, such as decision rights, availability of information, allocation of responsibility (and importantly, authority) and poor management of the IT organisation impacting performance and morale, to name a few, have all been considered and addressed in an existing best practice model. This model sets out to consider Trepant's original statement in terms of workforce management practices in the 1990s.

The People Capability Maturity Model (PCMM) was published in 1995, with version 2 released in 2001. It uses the maturity model concept developed by Watts Humphrey at the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University to describe an evolutionary journey in relation to an organisation's workforce management practices.

One of the main drivers for its creation was that the overemphasis on processes, from the triangle of people, processes and technology, was creating an imbalance. Also, there was a recognition that staff are the lever that extracts value through the use of effective processes, and that good processes are essentially shelfware without appropriate application.

As a result, there grew a demand from firms wanting to know how to organise themselves to ensure they had the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time, backed-up with the resources they needed (such as information) to allow the desired leverage of value. At the same time they also wanted to ensure they could attract, develop and retain the top talent, and it was these issues that Trepant is now re-examining, which the PCMM sought to address.

Often used in combination with models specifically focused on "process", the PCMM can just as easily be applied to both people and processes and has also proven itself in areas outside of IT over the years.

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