Managed services can alleviate the impact of a growing IT skill shortage

South Africa is in the midst of an ongoing and deepening IT skills shortage that is exacerbated by the high global demand for IT talent from the country’s skills pool. The exodus of quality skills is often spurred on by attractive remuneration and the opportunity to work for off-shore companies without leaving home.

The best talent with the most in-demand skills that remain in the country will largely be attracted by corporations and large enterprises with flexible salary budgets. IT skills fall in amongst the highest demand category and the current national shortage and strong future demand place small and medium businesses in a precarious situation.

This scarcity of IT skills and its limited availability to certain sectors of the market means that IT heads, in SMEs especially, are finding it challenging to attract and retain the right talent to deliver on their strategic IT goals. Deploying and managing IT infrastructure is complex and this is where a Managed Services Partner (MSP) can play a significant role. MSPs are able to mitigate against poor capacity planning and growth prediction and remove some of the HR-related challenges in terms of individual salary and expenses attached to employee benefits.

In addition, the demands placed on companies by skilled IT talent can sometimes take an undesirable turn as their awareness of this skills scarcity becomes more apparent.

Leveraging a partnership with a managed services company can help CIOs and IT managers cope with those challenges and alleviate the impact of the current skills shortage. MSPs provide flexible, as-a-service models that enable IT leaders and their teams to focus on the business value of IT.

Managed service adoption can simplify the IT environment in a business by freeing in-house employees for higher-value tasks. Some MSPs will also embed skills in your organisation if required and the advantage here is that training, certification, remuneration and continued availability of expertise in your environment are all for the account of the MSP while you simply need to commit to a predetermined term based contractual fee agreement.

Partnering with an MSP is not only about resources – it also helps to compensate for skill shortages and scale your IT operation in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner. It is also a strategic opportunity for your IT department to embrace digital transformation through accelerated adoption of modern technology offerings that can enhance collaboration, operation and data security in your organisation.

Managed Services Partners are complementary to existing in-house IT teams that are focused on driving transformation, especially when their IT shop is inadequate in terms of resource availability.  Businesses will need less of the deep technical IT infrastructure skills as this can be brought by the MSP. For the CIO or IT manager, an opportunity exists to elevate their own roles within the organisation further and become a key part of the strategic conversation across the entire enterprise in terms of cost containment and increased efficiency – easily achievable with access to the right tools, shared infrastructure and the right skills to boot.

A question often posed is how do MSPs deal with the scarcity of skills and are they not impacted by it? The fact is MSPs are not completely immune to this crisis but are somewhat better placed to attract talent despite it. In addition to market-related salaries and the usual perks, the fact that MSPs can offer their employees extensive, much sought-after exposure to a number of environments, technologies, industries and projects, and that they possess the means to facilitate training, upskilling and certification opportunities, makes them employers of choice in the IT sector.

If your business, like many others, is embarking on a journey of transformation or preparing for your next big IT move, success might lie in finding the right MSP to handle the fundamentals, enabling the internal team to focus on turning the application of IT into a competitive advantage for the business.

By Quintin van Zyl, Manager of Managed Services Operations at qwerti

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