“Pareto’s Principle”

The 4-Hour Workweek

Image via Wikipedia

Having just read Tim Ferriss “The 4 Hour Work Week” whilst undertaking the quarterly review of our business I was reminded once again that Pareto’s Principle is our top strategic imperative.

Our top performers (the $1m plus consultants) get 80% of their revenues from the top 20% of their clients…FACT!

An equation backed by a simple desire to focus hard on getting deep relationships across a small number of clients. This creates trust, opportunity and therefore competitive advantage. Whilst it may take a little longer to show returns, given time,  your returns will be far greater.

Yet just about every new consultant I meet seems determined to build a long client list. Maybe this stems from the desire to get a few early wins but I reiterate that this strategy is flawed. Slow down, invest in  fewer clients and aim to build cultural and institutional knowledge, which in turn creates trust. It’s this trust that will leverage you into big returns and protect you from competitive pressures. You will also find yourself enjoying your work a lot more!

Next meeting you have with your manager tell them you want fewer clients!

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International Preferred Supplier Agreements are a lazy solution

Organisations that choose to implement international preferred supplier agreements need to ensure they are not designing a lazy solution. Whether driven out of procurement or HR, a PSA needs to deliver on the core need of attracting the best to their organisation in the most timely and cost effective manner taking into account all their locations and specialist sector needs.

There is a trend amongst the multi-national IT Vendors to use  centralised and technology  led processes to select regional and sometimes global providers. These are often pursued by the multi-national recruitment generalists whom tick off the location box and tolerate a price driven agreement. Fair enough and good luck to both parties.

But, my point about it potentially being a lazy solution is that the process often ignores the reality that the best recruitment solution for any multi-national also needs the following elements:

  • Flexibility
  • Local relevance
  • Specialist Sector coverage
  • Local knowledge and relationships

I have observed these IT multi-nationals signing up PSA’s even when their multi-national partners have little or no coverage in local markets covered by the PSA. Now that is a lazy solution and worst of all they are letting down their own local teams by hindering their access to the best people and ignoring well established mutually beneficial relationships.

Convenient yes, leveraged yes but are they smart?

Not in my opinion.

Multi-listed contingent recruitment will stop!

Yes I believe it… I am pleased to say that a major international has just agreed to this very mantra and for all the right reasons.

Throughout a normal process of an RFP for a preferred supplier panel this company (whom I will soon name and promote with pride) has engaged with their suppliers on the basis of best practice. They accepted that the old habits of multi-listed contingent assignments no longer served anyones purpose. Sure they crunched the fees and terms a little for the volume promise but refreshingly they are going to provide assignments to their suppliers on an exclusive and sometimes retained basis.

In essence they want it done properly in the interests of the employer, the recruiter and the candidate. Mutual committment to the task underpinned with effective communication providing controlled, measurable outcomes. I love it. For over 23 years I’ve endured multi-nationals squeezing agencies on price, only to put them all in a rat race where the only measurement of success was speed. Yep speed eventually does kill.  This old style engagement model is dying as all parties become more enlightened to the impact of speed recruiting on all parties!

Much more to come on this topic but today is a great day!

Market ain’t that hot…let’s keep it real!

I’ve been reading a lot of market commentry about just how hot the ICT employment market is again. I even read a blog from a Sydney based recruiter stating that it’s the hottest market they have ever seen! I hate to be rude but… that person can’t have been around long!

From a recruitment industry perspective let’s keep some perspective and acknowledge that the market is a lot better than this time 12 months ago. However, I suggest cautious optimisism is not a bad approach. Plan for growth without feeling the need to freak out and hire at all cost.

The recruitment industry had a real clean out over the last 18 months with those less than 110% committed to the career opting out. Let’s remain determined to focus on quality and committed people as we re-emerge and grow our businesses.

Game Changing!

“09 is Game Changing?”

In my 21 years in the IT recruitment industry I think we may be just be coming out of the most ‘game changing’ period I have seen. Sure 1990 was tough post the ’87 crash and Y2K created huge opportunity, then a following lull, but this may be different!

1. The flexible workforce is now a reality!
2. Price transparency and value is for real!
3. Social networks is the great technology enabler!
4. “people are our most important asset”… this Mantra will now be tested like never before!

Flexible workforce: Yep. Short-term, fixed term, part-time, job share, hourly rate, fixed rate, daily rate, work from home, virtual workforce, webcasting, crowd-sourcing or cloud. Whatever it takes and whatever is affordable is driving very creative workforce solutions. This is now a reality and is a change that must be embraced by employers, recruiters, candidates, HR professionals and consultants. Whilst the rhetoric has been around a while we are now genuinely seeing these solutions being deployed with greater acceptance.

Price & Value: Perhaps it the stark financial reality everyone has needed to face that has finally cut through cultures of excess and lack of accountability. This has demanded an honesty amongst executives and suppliers that has driven price down where value didn’t equate. From this moment I reckon that value will be much more closely aligned to price especially in the services and consultancy supply community. People will still pay well for value but won’t accept excess.

Web 3.0: Social Networks are growing at such a rate that embracing it is the only option. Relationships, trust and knowledge will always underpin ultimate success but online branding and community development will drive our sourcing strategies, brand recognition, reputation and ultimately our effectiveness. Think price and value as above! Relevance to our audience and tools to reach them is extraordinarily challenging yet exciting for our industry. We’re all ears at this stage as we navigate forward trying out new tools and techniques!

“Yeah Right”: As green shoots appear company cultures will be tested like never before and lip service to employee engagement practices will come at a hefty price. Opportunities offshore will begin to open up again and a candidate short market will re-appear sooner than some think. Corporate behaviour over the last 12-18 months may just determine their success over the next 24 months. Some of the brutal treatment dished out by some large multi-nationals could come home to roost as people once again have choice.

Overall we see much more positivity than we did even 3 months ago. Unemployment forecasts and being reduced and most companies are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead. Have a happy and safe Xmas break.

Mark Chote
Managing Director
920 career agents

Green Shoots V2

A couple of months ago I commented on signs of growth. Since then I have spent some time in Australia also and was encouraged by reports and attitudes over there. Unemployment forecasts are being reviewed downwards both in Australia and NZ and generally reports are positive.

At a glance locally we are seeing more new jobs listed however the growth has been more evident in contracting and fixed term appointments. This is entirely logical but nevertheless encouraging as across the board people are talking up a better period ahead perhaps as early as Q2 2010?

Lets get with this mindset :_)

Management Contracting Versus Management Consulting?

I had an interesting discussion with an industry colleague from Australia the other day. They have launched a new service for their clients pitched at competing with traditional consulting firms. The key value propostion seemed to be:
1. Management Consulting expertise at a lower price point
2. Mangement Consulting advice that is not aligned to any software provider i.e. SAP or Oracle

This technology agnostic approach they stated was being well received by clients whom were tired of being oversold by strategy advice that was aligned to large enterprise wide software implementations and the corresponding consulting teams beyond what was required.

Is this lack of transparent independance a problem for management consulting firms in NZ?

I don’t know but if this service gains strength in Australia they may have found a nice growth niche in the market providing high quality management consulting experts to their clients with genuine independance at a good price.

This may not be entirely new but rather it may be well timed?

Australia is of course a very large pool compared to ours so plenty of room for all service options!