The Growing IT Labor Shortage Post 5: PL Developments Relies on Time and Patience to Fill IT Roles

by Jim Lein, Programs Management Sr. Principal, Oracle Midsize Programs 

PL Developments is one of those companies that you’ve probably never heard of yet you’ve most likely consumed their products dozens of times. Based in Westbury, New York, the company packages and distributes private label over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as analgesic pills and cough, cold, allergy, and digestive remedies for some of the biggest and well known retailers in the United States. After experiencing double digit year over year growth for almost ten years, the executive team at PL Developments decided to replace Sage MAS 500 with KPIT Cummins’ Oracle Accelerate Solution for CPG. In 2011, the company deployed the Oracle applications without customization in just ten months, moving to industry best practices that come with the Oracle Business Accelerators. The use of Oracle Business Accelerators substantially reduced the time to value for the solution and the cost of IT resources needed during implementation.

Flexible Oracle Business Accelerators Facilitate Talent Decision Making Processes

Tom Crowe, CIO at PL Developments, knew that moving from an outdated Tier 2 solution to Oracle’s enterprise-grade applications would require restructuring of his IT staff. Prior to Oracle, he had six people filling roles in IT management, network administration, EDI management, report building, and help desk. During the implementation, Crowe relied on partner consultants to configure the applications based on guidance from internal super users—mid-level managers in supply chain, finance, and logistics.

“We really challenged ourselves to make decisions during the requirements gathering phase in order to adopt best practices,” says Crowe. “We loved Oracle Business Accelerators because they facilitated that decision making process and were flexible enough for us to be able to run our company with out of the box functionality. I knew those decisions would directly impact what IT roles we would need to fill so we waited to hire additional resources until after go-live.”

Keeping IT In House

Once they went live, Crowe sat down with the partner consultants to decide one by one what new IT resources would be needed. The goal was to become self sufficient, bucking a popular trend to outsource IT functions to managed services, in order to more quickly resolve outstanding issues. Crowe expected to add about half a dozen people, each with both deep Oracle knowledge and CPG business savvy. He has extensive experience in outsourcing some IT activities to overseas resources, most recently in Russia. Occasionally, Crowe farms out technical activities to overseas resources after having internal resources that really understand the business define requirements and scope.

Crowe cast a wide recruiting net across a heavily populated tri-state area and was soon disappointed in how long the hiring process was taking. On average, it took at least fifty resumes to get three applicants worth talking to. Many were asking for $25,000- $30,000 over the salary target while not filling the majority of the requirements. The technical skills of the candidates represented the greatest recurring gap. Crowe speculates that this was because they were a midsize firm competing for talent with much larger firms in the tri-state area and that so much technical training is now being done overseas.

“We were getting a barrage of people who said they had specific experience at the required level but when we dug deeper we’d find that they were nowhere near that level,” observed Crowe. “It was a bit discouraging at first.”

Perseverance Pays Off

Recruiting took a lot longer than anticipated, requiring PL Developments to rely on partner consultants longer than they wanted to but their patience was rewarded. Crowe is very satisfied with the way things turned out. He believe they are now self reliant because they cherry-picked the right people—new employees that wanted to work in a smaller company with a more intimate type of working environment. Crowe says that, if he were to do the project again, he would start looking for some of the specific talent earlier on, challenging the partner to identify what key roles would need to be filled upon go live.

“It’s harder now to find the right talent than it used to be,” says Crowe. “And I think that’s because we were looking for very specific job skills. There is more Oracle talent in the market place than just about any other vendor. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to find people with technical skills for many of the smaller vendor solutions.”

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

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

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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