During this year we proposed gathering and synthesizing as many opinions as possible, from the perspective of Human Resources professionals, about the IT companies from the Cluj market and about the idea of an "IT community". For this purpose we had four meetings with Human Resources specialists from IT companies and we wrote down their opinions in articles published in the Today Software Magazine - three of these articles have appeared in the numbers 11, 13 and 16, the fourth one being the present article.
In this last meeting we extracted a series of conclusions related to the generous subject of Cluj IT industry. In the first part, we established with the participants which would be the main subjects that preoccupy and challenge the Human Resources specialists from the IT organizations - revising the issues discussed in the previous workshops. In the second part of the meeting we sketched what would mean a desirable IT community in Cluj and which were, largely, the specific actions in 2013 that could bring closer the group of companies from Cluj towards the ideal of a community.
Revising the main subjects discussed in the previous workshops, we observed that the main challenges for the Human Resources specialists from the IT companies, which were stated at the beginning of the year, did not modify significantly in 2013.
The action of recruiting and retaining people in organizations still represents a challenge and will continue to be this way as long as the ratio between the quantity of projects brought to Cluj and the availability of specialists on the market will continue to be a supra-unitary one, therefore an unbalanced one. In this regard, there are many factors that contribute to this disequilibrium: for example, the technical universities (still) do not have the capacity to provide faster and better prepared employees; the vast majority of IT companies from Cluj are working in this moment on outsourcing projects, which requires a large and fast infusion with projects and, therefore, a large necessity of workforce; the benefits offered to the employees are already large and comparable from one company to another etc. In the same time, this situation represents a "given" which, in turn, creates a series of effects that are positive only on short-term, but possibly negative on the medium or long-term. However, these opinions that belong to us will be presented in the final part of this article.
Regarding the development activity of the people from IT, the Human Resources specialists have to cope with a certain paradoxical situation. On the one hand, when new employees are being recruited, the vast majority state that they want to have as many learning opportunities, trainings and other forms of development as possible. After employment, their interest for this type of development actions - organized in the company or at the community level - decreases abruptly for the vast majority of employees and, unfortunately, at the management level, too.
In case of "soft-skills" development, the interest is even lower than for the "technical courses" domain - but, paradoxically, even at this category, the participation rate is low compared to the possible number of participants. Most of the times, exactly those who should be a model in the direction of lifelong learning and proactive attitude regarding development - the managers - are those who prevent, to a large extent, the development process. The causes can be of many kinds and, although they lead to negative effects, are understandable. For example, in some companies, the costs for trainings (among which the technical ones are significantly higher) are subtracted from the participants" department budget and, most of the times, the managers who should approve the participation of their people, guide themselves solely on immediate business interests (ex. the profit should stay as higher as possible), as the entire company does. In other situations, the managers that lead a certain project, for example, are thinking punctually at the actual needs for development of their people, and a lot less strategically, such as: "what my people should know in the future, in order to ensure a larger flexibility and professionalism in the possible new projects?" Moreover, especially due to the situation described at point 1 - the lack of enough human resources - managers are sometimes forced to refuse the participation of the people to the training, even for a couple of hours, because they cannot finish certain phases of the project, in a short period, with limited resources. Along with all this reluctance that comes from the mangers, the employees do not manifest significant initiatives, requests for participation to various forms of development. Or, when they do participate, the real application rate in daily work is low.
Unfortunately, even though the benefit at the individual level is more than obvious - the diploma, certification, knowledge, abilities belong to that person wherever he/she would go in the future - this argument is not sufficiently valued by the IT employees. It is true that, due to work specifications, there are actions of self-didacticism which are practiced among the IT people, which are necessary and it is good that they are part of their professional behaviour - they help the accomplishment of a good immediate performance (they also "help" in creating an illusion like: "but we learn every day!"). Human Resources people did not manage yet to convince the most of IT employees that lifelong, systematic and strategic development will help them in building a career, not just in accomplishing a "here and now" performance, and if, in a few years, when the competition for professionalism on this market becomes … a real competition, then, those who have grown thoroughly and strategically will be those who will succeed.
We want to mention that these conclusions refer to an average of IT employees and, of course, the punctual cases of passionate and dedicated people who participate in any training / conference etc. are excluded from these affirmations.
Starting from these facts that are present in the IT companies from Cluj, we propose to you an exercise: one of the questions that all IT employees would be worth reflecting now, at the beginning of the new year, is: "What would happen if, starting tomorrow, the outsourcing from Cluj would disappear / move to another part? What would happen to me, to my colleagues? What can I do today in order to prevent such a scenario?" - in the strategic thinking theories, such analyses, processes are called risk analyses…
A part of the answer to this question was given by the participants to this project in the previous workshop and we invite you to (re)-read the article from number 16 of TSM in which are presented the reasons why a community (not just a group) is necessary at the level of Cluj IT industry and in which are presented some punctual ideas that can contribute to the growth of such a community.
In this last meeting we wanted to lead the discussion to another level of generality and we asked the participants, firstly, to sketch what means an ideal IT community in Cluj (not in Silicon Valley, in India or in other parts… but in CLUJ!). Then, taking into consideration this benchmark, they were asked to assess, from their perspective, which were the steps that were made in 2013 towards this desirable direction.
Therefore, an ideal community, desired by IT at Cluj would mean (Attention! This paragraph represents a dream… Without the courage to dream, there could not be any progress! Anyone is welcomed to add punctual elements in this dream described at this moment by the Human Resources specialists):
Such a functional community would ensure a "success story" in the local and national economy and would represent a significantly more stable business sector.
If this is the desired target, which were the concrete actions realized in 2013 so that the IT organizations from Cluj go closer to this target? - a target that is still viewed by the Human Resources specialists as being quite far away…
Unfortunately, for those present at the workshop, some clear actions in this direction were not very visible. However, there are a series of initiatives - but they produce too small or not very visible effects at the Cluj community level. For example:
If we were to synthesize in one paragraph the opinions expressed on the course of this entire year in this research, we could say that the opinion of the HR from the Cluj IT is: at this moment, we are a "on-the-wave industry"; we are fine, we have work to do, we work quite well qualitatively; we have challenges regarding the number of specialists in the domain and regarding the development of the employees - however these are not too acute "pains"; we dream beautifully at an IT community in Cluj about which we know that it would have quite a lot of benefits, but, at this moment, there is not enough drive towards this strategic way of working.
At the end of this initiative started by our team - Danis Consulting - we considered appropriate to express a series of our opinions regarding all these radiographs made on the Cluj IT market. The opinions that you will find below are not necessarily those of the participants at our workshops or those of the IT people with whom we have collaborated during the last year. We believe that any perspective / point of view can be helpful in making some strategic decisions.
The opinions written below are based on many situations in which we had the opportunity to observe the IT environment in different depictions: the discussions from this research, discussions with managers / entrepreneurs from the Cluj IT field, participations at various events on the Cluj IT market (ex: monthly publication of TSM, IT Days conference), direct collaborations on various development programs with some IT companies etc.
Therefore, how we see certain aspects from the Cluj IT industry:
We are aware that some of our opinions can cause controversies - which, in fact, would make us very glad! It is better to have debates and exchanges of ideas, than a state of idleness like: "we do not bother with anything".
In conclusion: it is known what the IT community from Cluj could look like (as a benchmark). In 2013, the concrete steps made in this direction were, unfortunately, extremely weak, eventually some formal appreciations. At a certain moment, someone may ask why this action was not made in the past. We do not want it? We cannot do it?
We wish to thank all the people who, during this year, honoured us with their presence at this initiative of discussions - without any direct benefit, being motivated solely by the desire to contribute in a constructive manner!
We hope that our entire action - with all the information published, visible for anyone who is interested - will be helpful to those who have decision power on this IT market from Cluj and that they will be interested to transform a happy opportunity in an economical success story for Cluj and for Romania, demonstrating that "it is possible for us, too!" !
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