Claire Richards, Lead Consultant: Skills gap

How do we really have an impact on the skills gap today?

One of the advantages of being a services business is that we get a much broader exposure to tech and the challenges out there.

Each end user might be using a very specific set of features and tools but in aggregate we see a much broader range of examples and use cases. It’s only from that level of exposure that you get to understand and use technology more effectively.

So it’s hard for end users to ever totally get this

Absolutely — people often leave a company because they get pigeonholed or bored. Most people want to broaden their skills and move onto the new funky stuff.

If you’re lucky and working somewhere very forward-looking and leading edge, you can get that and it’s amazing.

But that’s rare.

sap gap

So if you don’t let your team grow…

It’s about time, isn’t it? So at job interviews, people will say “we have this test environment where you can try this out, you can build demo systems and play ” In reality, you never get time to actually go and do it. There’s always customer needs or tickets to be served.

Managers will say they grow their team by setting objectives around personal development but in your annual performance review they say “oh you didn’t have time to do that, nevermind.”

And it’s cross-functional — how do you bring departments together

Particularly DBA and Basis used to be distinct roles and now with SAP pushing functionality into the database level there’s a hybrid role emerging.

Customers who have migrated to HANA and not really appreciated this shift in functionality have found themselves in a position where things are going wrong and the application people don’t have the HANA skills to resolve it. That’s why we refer to this area of expertise as HANA Basis because there’s this gap in the middle that needs bridging.

Same with functional S/4HANA — there’s a simple implementation in terms of standardisation but it’s completely different. So instead of just new GUIs, you’re completely changing their business processes.

People are suddenly realising they have to retrain teams to work with new business processes, right down to the factory and shop floor. It’s a huge transformation.

So it’s not just a technical skills gap, it’s people, process and technology, right down through the business.

What’s the first thing companies should be doing to mitigate this?

Well, it’s not that simple.

If you have no skills gaps, it might be a sign you aren’t innovating enough. A skills gap might be a sign that you are pushing to put in the new tech and new versions. What you need are the people who are prepared to take that on, and to give them time to do it.

The skills gap never disappears, it just moves.

So whenever you work with someone on a project externally, the outside perspective is a way to plug those gaps…

One of the expectations from any engagement I’ve been involved with is that I’ll leave them with a doc detailing either the build, support, process or whatever they need. Sadly some companies don’t know to ask for this.

You might also gain this perspective at events, where people are sharing knowledge of what’s out there or how they have done it.

Regardless, the opportunity for improvement here comes primarily from finding knowledge outside your business to match the ambition within.

Looking internally at your shifts in skills gaps.

Watch the video HERE

Look inwards and analyse your organisation’s innovative journey. Has the technology changed? Do your employees have the opportunity to up-skill or add to skills? What are you development terms from a technology perspective? Start asking yourself these questions. Centiq understand the complexities of this journey. Read more here on where you can get started with your IT innovation and skills gaps.