HDI and MATC Job Fair

So this week was a busy one. Madison Area Technical College held a small IT career fair. Those students in much of the networking/server side of curriculum showed up, and it was good to talk to contacts from other businesses and organizations. Again, it helps to network. Something I hope to do more of in the future. Speaking of which…

The local Madison, WI, chapter of the Help Desk Institute (HDI) held a meeting today. It was hosted by the local division of CDW and featured Ann, her last name escapes me and I don’t have my notes, *pauses to check local chapter’s website, no listing of event, nice*, a Project Manager with her Master’s Degree speaking about Conflict Resolution. Ann certainly knows how to inform and keep it light. Her sense of humor and approach kept it interesting and insightful. Sure, the topic can often be heard by an HR rep, but Ann’s presentation is fun and far from mundane. Ok, Ann, I’ll remove my critic hat now.

IT Staffing Today

I make hundreds of calls a week. It’s part of my job. When I started with the firm I work for the purpose was to inform companies that we have highly qualified IT professionals that can help them with their IT projects. It is still the same game, but our approach is different.  Hiring is frozen, and everything seems to be on hold. That’s what they tell me. The fact is, companies are doing business and they still need to get things done. Unfortanate layoffs occur, but there are still ways to get things done with a cost-effective approach.

When I was just getting started with IT, circa 1996, many businesses saw IT as a liability. It was a black hole expense and they didn’t have ways to measure it’s ROI. Now, they have tools that can meausure call loads, experience project managers that know how long it takes to program and develop software that has ultimately become the back bone of operating organizations throughout the world. These applications and wired infrastructures can not go down and stop working. If they stop working, the flow of information stops working, and you can’t survive as a business if this happens. You have lower head count, and business isn’t what it was 3 yeas ago, but you still rely on that information. This is where CFO’s, CIO’s, CTO’s, and middle management needs to be aware of alternatives to keeping the flow of info alive within their organizaiton, and keep it going without a huge burden on current expenditures.

One way to keep cost low, but still get projects done is staffing. Surprise! Many companies equate staffing firms with hiring, which in turn leads to head count, which leads to expense. So instead of relying on people like me to help them, they turn to service providers within the IT sector. They outsource their IT, but end up paying almost double for it. They’ll hire a firm to configure their existing routers and switches. This could be because they have an IT person but need the expertise, or they simply don’t have the IT perosn on staff. Some IT service providers can charge $135-150 an hour for a person to come in and do the job. When you go this route you have to pay for the company and it’s burden, whether they have the consultant generating revenue or not. Essentially they are making up for lack of work in the past or lack of work in the future. Charge more and it all balances out. Now there’s times this model comes in hand, I’ll get to that. But what if you could hire just the person. You just need the knowledge and don’t want to pay for what you don’t need.

Enter staffing firm. We work with these people on a daily basis. Our particular model is to work with people between jobs, and we don’t have as much overhead as the previous example. You pay for the person to help. So a network administrator or engineer can run $65-80 an hour! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do those numbers and see the benefit. What’s the big difference? Well, the candidate doesn’t get paid until they’re on the job, so they’re not overhead for us. It only takes 1-2 people to really manage that one person within the staffing firm and we’re spread across a few people. Simply put, our business model is different. You can equate this to websites and application development as well. Go to a website firm and ask how much a basic site will cost and how your company will be able to manage it.

I mentioned there are times that solution houses work better. There’s pros and cons to everything. One big reason to go with a software house or solution provider is because they can do the team thing. They can bring in a team of people to listen to you and provide quotes and guarantees that an individual/staffing firm simply can’t. Many firms can’t guarantee timelines and refund money or eat the cost of going over budget. You can’t have an employee return a paycheck or reimburse the company if they don’t finish their work on time, right? It also comes downt to control. If you want to relinquish control and have the finished product brought back to you when it’s done, and you don’t care how it’s done, then the house route is the way to go. Staffing is when you want the employee without adding head count and the flexibility to cut them loose when budget gets used up or the project is completed, or you want them to tackle more.

This is the big picture, and I think you get it. The question is, who won’t know that they have other avenues that they can use to get the help they need and still save money?

Madison Java User Group February Meeting

The next Madison Java User Group meeting will be held on Wednesday February 4th, 2009.

This meeting will be held at: TDS

Hacking – The Dark Arts: presented by Ken Sipe
A live Hacking demonstration exposing the tools and techniques used by Hackers. A look at the growing space referred to as ethical hacking or penetration testing. We’ll look at example attacks which include: client side exploits, SQL-Injections, Brute force attacks, Man-in-the-middle attacks, and key logging.

Ken Sipe
Ken Sipe is a Technology Director with Perficient, Inc. (PRFT), IBM’s largest service partner, where he leads multiple teams in the development of solutions in the SOA, Web 2.0 and portal domains, on both the Java and .Net platforms.

Ken the founder of CodeMentor, where he was the Chief Architect and Mentor, leading clients in the execution of RUP and Agile methodologies in the delivery of software solutions. He is a former trainer for Rational in OOAD and RUP, and a CORBA Visibroker trainer for Borland. He continues to enjoy providing training and mentoring in all aspects of software development.

More formal details.