Why we need less people, more skill

In this digital era, businesses risk being left behind if they do not develop their technology capabilities. Companies are under pressure to introduce emerging technologies or commit to digital transformation, but many struggle with how to begin this process. Companies trying to stay ahead of their competitors are often susceptible to the idea that when implementing a big project, the best method is to throw more bodies at it. However, these companies are failing to take into account the factors needed to successfully integrate technology into their business, which then leads to both cost and time ramifications. When implementing a project, or solving a problem, organisations need to start focusing less on the people, and more on the skill.

Are skills the missing piece of your digital transformation puzzle?

New research from Capita Resourcing shows that the workforce, skills and HR departments are still being overlooked in digital transformation efforts. Read here


A recent trend among recruitment agencies and consultancies has consisted of hiring mass numbers of workers, and then throwing them at a project or company; playing into the old adage that ‘the more people the better’. In some cases this may be true, but when it comes to implementing technology into a business or undergoing digital transformation, this method doesn’t work and can often hinder the process further.

This recruitment trend also ties in to the misconception held by top level executives that digital transformation projects can be done within the standard three-month window traditionally used for enterprise projects. Executives must start thinking in the long-term when it comes to digital transformation, especially if technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) are involved which crucially need time to get smarter. Often the solution is to hire more people to speed up the project. But this will not accelerate a technology project, only slow the process down through weaker team communication and longer delays on decision making.

Gartner warns skills shortage could hamper digital transformation efforts

Gartner says only 20% of employees have the skills needed for both their current role and their future career. Read here

Cost effectiveness

When beginning a new project, top decision-makers often have two driving factors that they consider – cost and time. They do not want a project to be dragged out and they want to ensure they are using the cheapest, most cost-effective method possible when implementing it. Companies do not want to pay a huge lump sum at the beginning of a project, and often look to cut down costs by using cheap methods of labour, often in the form of hiring large numbers of low-skilled workers.

Introducing lots of new workers, and thereby introducing new perspectives into a project, can often seem like the perfect solution. However, this is risky, especially for big, expensive projects such as digital transformation; bringing in too many workers can negate the project strategy, worsen communication, cause confusion with individuals’ responsibilities and complicate the decision-making process. All of this can severely delay the project – exactly what business leaders are trying to avoid.

If a problem arises during the project, once again the best perceived solution is to introduce new people in the hopes that they can solve the issue and get the project back on track. This quick fix risks damaging the project further, with too many voices competing on how to resolve the problem. Often this will lead to later issues down the line which will end up being more expensive to fix in the longer run. Companies need to understand that the best course of action is to invest a large amount of money on hiring the right people, to save costs later.

Prioritising skills in the digital age

The demand for skills is changing and in the workplace environment it is important to find the right balance between ‘soft’ and hard skills. Read here

Providing the best value

The fundamental argument comes down to value. Often in business, a corporate mentality exists in which executives boast about the number of people they have working for their company or on a project because they believe that provides the best value for their clients.

This attitude has existed for more than two decades yet companies are still failing to understand that this might not provide the best value for their business or clients. Companies need to do more research to understand what works for them as an individual business, and often this means they don’t need to hire lots of people. Rather, they need the right people. While it may seem reassuring to have a large team working on an expensive project, often the work is easier, smoother and quicker when led by a small team who are highly-skilled, have good experience and who can be there working on the ground together, not spread around or working remotely. This may be more expensive at first, but it is worth it in the long term.

It’s clear that companies can be smarter when it comes to finding the right way to carry out a project. Many companies have failed when trying to implement digital transformation, often as a result of rushing in and not thinking about the strategy and team needed to be successful. Highly-skilled workers may seem more expensive, but this is for very good reason — a small team of experienced, skilled workers will be able to deliver a project much better than mass amounts of low-skilled workers can.

Written by Chris Porter, MD of Digital Transformation at 6point6
Written by Chris Porter, MD of Digital Transformation at 6point6

Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice consists of the best articles written by third parties and selected by our editors. You can contact us at timothy.adler at stubbenedge.com

Related Topics

Digital Skills