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Is TA Guilty in Project Failures?

Short answer - no, but that doesn't stop anybody from blaming you.

"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

Software projects fail a lot - more than 50% by virtually any study. As an IT manager for 25 years, I can certainly confirm it. The question is - who takes the blame?

The first in line are the project managers, of course. Unless the PMs are true heroes, they begin looking for excuses, especially those backed up by numbers. On top of the list: the number of open reqs and the time they stay open. The blame goes to the talent acquisition team. Is that fair?

At first glance - yes. PMs create the plan and get the budget approved based on specific team size and composition. That includes new hires and doesn't assume any resignations. If the team is suddenly smaller than expected, the project plan inevitably fails. The PM has no control over hiring, so all fingers point to TA. The defenses, like a tough labor market and under-developed employer brand don’t help much because it’s not news - and should have been taken into account. What is missing in this picture?

To answer that, look at the case from the project manager’s lens. She assumes that TA has committed to hiring these people by the project plan dates. Did TA actually commit? Moreover, TA could not possibly commit to it! TA could rely on the historic data, but let’s be realistic - the stats for the last ten years have very little relevance to our pre-, in-, or post- COVID world.

Giving TA hiring targets without their commitment means setting TA and the projects up for failure. Just because a project desperately needs engineers, doesn’t mean they appear out of thin air. If you need the talents tomorrow, they have to be in your pipeline today. It is the pipeline that gives TA the confidence in the commitment everybody is looking for.

To summarize, avoid the unfair guilty verdict by following, the set of strict rules:

  1. Any project plan must include the hiring plan, covering incremental hires and replacements.

  2. The only way the hiring plan is realistic is when it’s based on the prescreened talent pipeline.

  3. Project plan sign-off must include TA.

  4. The hiring plan for every project should be included in scheduled project reviews and the adjustments made as necessary.

In the next whitepapers of this series we will describe how to build and maintain a realistic pipeline of candidates, and how to perform long-term project planning based on it. Stay tuned.

Alex Elkin, CEO, PeerTown Inc.

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