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To keep up with today’s fast-paced, constantly changing business environment, organizations need to ensure they have the skills they need when and where they need them.
New solutions can help ensure organizations don’t skip a beat by enabling them to immediately locate skills based on demand.
Accenture outlines a series of innovative ways to tap into internal and external skills just in time.
A lack of skilled people can lead to serious business consequences. For many companies, this “skills gap” has resulted in delays in product releases, reduced customer satisfaction and loss of revenue. According to one recent survey, more than half of employers report that when positions are not filled quickly there is a high (20 percent) or medium (37 percent) impact on key constituents (customers, investors, etc.). And the gaps aren’t found only in areas of chronic shortage like engineering—they’re in occupations as varied as production workers, purchasing staff and powerline-technicians repairing electricity lines.
Complicating the problem is that organizations often need to find the skills they need very quickly. As business models change, as companies push into new markets, and as customer demand ebbs and flows, companies that can quickly and fluidly tap into the skills they need—where and when they need them—can develop a formidable strategic advantage.
All too often, however, standard solutions to solving the skills gap—like retraining existing workers or taking the time to find, recruit and hire new workers with the requisite skills—just aren’t fast enough. Companies need to think creatively about new solutions to tapping skills on demand.
Just as “just-in-time” processes helped manufacturing companies reduce costs and improve flexibility by enabling materials to be delivered just before they are needed for manufacturing, companies hoping to nimbly adapt to changing business conditions must likewise develop a “just-in-time” workforce—or the ability to quickly locate skills based on demand.
When the need for new skills arises, or when higher-skilled people are needed quickly, most executives will immediately think of retraining existing workers. But this can be a slow process. Fast alternatives to tapping internal talent quickly may include:
Creating a dedicated pool of flexible, just-in-time talent.
“Cross-skilling” people so they can use different skills based on demand.
Creating a demand-driven talent marketplace.
Restructuring work in terms of smaller, discrete skill-based projects.
Defining jobs more broadly.
Organizations may also look outside the organization to develop a just-in-time skill capability. Traditional alternatives to accessing external talent include outsourcing, hiring skilled individuals for specific roles, or using an agency to gain access to temporary or contingent laborers. Innovative alternatives that can allow greater flexibility and speed include:
The ability to develop a “just-in-time” workforce capability can create a significant advantage, enabling organizations to pursue market opportunities and respond to changing customer needs faster than competitors.
Those who build a variety of ways to creatively tap the skills they need when and where they need them will create a hard to replicate flexibility that can help them outperform the competition.
Accenture is a leader in the development of talent and organization strategies that underpin high performance.
Susan Cantrell is a research fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance and also leads and conducts her own research practice. She is an award-winning author who has written or co-written more than 40 articles and book chapters for such publications as the Wall Street Journal, MIT Sloan Management Review, Strategy & Leadership, Across the Board, Strategic HR Review and Talent Management.
Norbert Büning is executive director responsible for learning and collaboration offerings within the Accenture Talent & Organization Performance group. He has more than 25 years of experience developing learning strategies and designing and implementing major learning programs for numerous global companies.
Breck Marshall is executive director and lead for Talent & Organization Performance offerings within Health & Public Service. He has more than 17 years of experience working with organizations in training design and development, talent development, organization design, performance management, workforce transformation and change management.
September 15, 2011
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