The Growing IT Labor Shortage Post 4: Natus Medical Adopts a 3-Pronged Approach to Avoid IT Labor Shortage Pains

by Jim Lein, Programs Management Senior Principal, Oracle Accelerate Corporate Programs

Natus Medical recently went live on a broad footprint of Oracle products, deploying over 60 Oracle application modules in just ten months. The new solution replaced old versions of Baan (ERP, acquired by Infor Global Solutions), Clientele (CRM), Agile (PLM), PM10 (FP&A) applications. Bharat Poria, Sr. Director of IT at Natus Medical Inc, has almost 30 years of IT experience and was keenly aware of the impact this IT modernization project would have on the roles and activities of his staff. Poria chose to retrain his existing staff rather than hiring new employees to fill the IT business analyst roles.

“There is a growing shortage of skilled IT resources that have both the product expertise and the business knowledge to deploy and maintain modern IT systems,” says Poria.

Poria knew some of the existing staff would have to be retrained regardless of which new solution was deployed. Accordingly, he adopted a strategy that would mitigate risk and hasten staff retraining.

“First, we decided to choose just one vendor and one partner,” says Poria. “We chose Oracle because they had the complete solution including applications, middleware, database and a web front end making deployment and management worldwide easier. This approach also made it possible for us to work with just one partner—NTT Data—instead of multiple partners with expertise across the products of multiple vendors.”

A second key component of the strategy was to deploy NTT Data’s Oracle Accelerate Solution for Life Sciences. This enabled the use of Oracle Business Accelerators for the core Oracle E-Business Suite deployment in order to complete the project rapidly and adopt 95% of the best practices within the solution.

Lastly, Poria uses a hybrid approach to managing the new solution. Poria manages the overall on premise infrastructure and has one business analyst in each of three functional areas—finance, operations, and sales/service/marketing. NTT Data remotely manages the technical and functional aspects of the solution.

Poria doesn’t have a lot of extra time to ponder the cause of the current IT labor shortage in the United States. However, he offers several educated opinions.

“Part of the problem is that American universities teach in a theoretical approach rather than a practical manner that provides students with knowledge of specific products,” observes Poria. “And technical universities outside of the United States train students on very specific areas of technology but they don’t learn the broader business side of things. Also, I believe that the economic downturn led to actions by companies that discouraged students from pursuing technology degrees. During those hard times it was easy to make layoff and offshore outsourcing decisions based on the numbers.”

Twenty years ago, Poria would have hired a business analyst and had them learn on the job what they needed to know about products. Today, he would look for someone with specific product expertise and teach them the business. Ideally, a new hire would have both product and business expertise but he says that’s hard to find.

“We need to get college students excited again about careers in technology, information flow, how a business operates and more importantly, business processes,” says Poria. “Oracle can also be a great training ground for graduates because of the comprehensiveness of their solutions. Oracle’s approach to complete solutions shows that they understand that the complexity is not in the products but in the collaboration—getting all the system parts to work together. Those collaboration skills are a great place for an IT graduate to get started and learn end to end business flows.”

More in this series:

Post 1: The Growing IT Labor Shortage: Are You Feeling It?

Post 2: Want to Hire and Retain the Best Talent? Leverage Your Employees' Social Media Networks

Post 3:United Streetcar: America’s Only Streetcar Manufacturer is Back On Track

Oracle Accelerate AppCasts - Listen and Share:

Listen to an interesting conversation on Natus Medical Inc.'s experience with Oracle's Applications.

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