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Chris Ellis, CEO, GDC Services: How to help businesses find IT talent

Chris Ellis, CEO, GDC Services: How to help businesses find IT talent


Today, the IT labor market is torn between two extremes: on the one hand , numerous professionals are still unable to find a job, while on the other hand, companies are complaining about the shortage of qualified employees and about being unable to close their vacancies for months on end, despite spending a lot of money on trying to hire suitable candidates. Chris Ellis, CEO of GDC Services, talks about how to use the services of IT professionals without increasing your own staff. 


Could you tell us which professionals are the most in-demand for IT projects today?

The demand for this or that profession is obviously determined by the economic situation in the country and by industry trends: they influence which way the business will develop, or which specialization the company should focus on, and show what will be relevant in the coming years. If we talk about today, there is a demand for developers of various profiles (backend, frontend, mobile), system analysts, application testers, experienced DevOps Engineers and Site Reliability Engineers, information security specialists, data analysts and architects, and Business Intelligence specialists.

GDC Services is known as an IT services company that implements complex IT outsourcing projects. In your experience, have there been cases when clients came to you not for a service, but for specific IT professionals?

Yes, there have been such cases, and I think they will continue to happen, since the IT market regularly needs individual specialists and even entire teams for IT projects. Plus, the "dedicated expert" format is in demand for situations when the company seeks to expand its team with a select individual, needed for working on complex IT solutions or important business projects, and has found it difficult (which is to be expected!) to find a candidate with the necessary profile or expertise. Or situations when a key employee has left the company and needs to be quickly replaced. In some cases, this also helps reduce or eliminate the cost of maintaining your own IT staff.

In addition, this format of interaction is a great opportunity for the customer to test the waters in IT outsourcing and understand how the model of attracting external expertise fits into the company's business processes, how economically expedient it is, and what value it brings to the business.  

Are such services mostly required by small companies, or do market flagships also seek them out? 

Interest comes from completely different companies, in terms of both scale and geography. We have used a similar model when working with major global companies. We see the greatest demand in such industries as banking, retail, manufacturing and service companies, and SMEs.

The main advantage gained by the customer is the ability to quickly integrate an experienced expert into their processes at an affordable price and use this expert's insights for the benefit of their business.

How do you ensure the efficiency of the teams that you assemble?

Every team is made up of people, so people are foundation of success. In addition to our specialists' qualifications, which we regularly improve by working on projects around the world and using global best practices in our work, we unite our teams under a common goal, and regularly analyze our progress towards this goal. Our work's objectives and expected results are agreed upon with the customer in advance, since it is important for us to bring their business exactly the value that they expect from us. For example, this can include Customer Satisfaction (C-SAT) with our service level, compliance with the Service Level Agreement (SLA), or simply delivering the project within the time frame and budget discussed with the customer. All of this helps create a united team that pursues the same goal as the customer, understands the expected result of its work, and is motivated to achieve it.

At the same time, it is important for us to preserve and increase all the accumulated experience and knowledge, both in working with clients and in industry-specific tasks. Dialogue on potential cooperation with many of our customers begins with these questions: "What knowledge base do you use?", or "How do you organize the internal processes of knowledge transfer?". For us, the IT knowledge management system is one of the key success factors.

What unique competencies and experience do your specialists have, and in what areas?

Our portfolio includes more than 15 specializations, more than 30 technology stacks, and dozens of successfully completed projects. Really, we could list our experts' skills endlessly, so I will focus on the most prominent ones.

Experts from our Data Center Infrastructure Department can plan the key elements of an IT infrastructure development strategy in accordance with business needs, as well as design and implement all elements, migrate to new solutions, provide follow-up support for the customer's IT infrastructure, and, of course, ensure its information security. We are ready to design anything: from individual solutions and platforms to a complete data center infrastructure. Our specialists can also provide support for the current infrastructure for its uninterrupted operation, including support for solutions from vendors who have left the market.

Difficulties in managing automated user workstations can be solved by specialists with the necessary set of competencies. They will ensure the smooth operation of client operating systems, mobile devices, virtual desktops, various means of communication (e-mail, audio/video conferencing, messengers, etc.), as well as client applications for the Windows and Linux operating systems.

With extensive experience in developing and supporting custom solutions for large companies in food and fashion retail, logistics, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, our software development and support experts are ready to assist businesses with development, testing, analytics, business application support, and industry consultations.

Using flexible approaches for a smooth transition to a digital transformation, our digital professionals — engineers, data scientists, UX designers, developers, and Scrum masters — help customers deploy software of various complexity levels, from rapid RPA/low-code automation to solutions that use artificial intelligence and Internet of Things.

And when it comes to managing this wide range of IT services, our customers entrust this to our team of service and project management experts. They are certified in the latest standards and methodologies, such as ITIL, Prince, Agile, Scrum, Cobit, and SIAM; have many years of practical international experience; rely on the best industry practices when managing IT infrastructure, process, budget, risks, and quality; and are ready to support customers even in crisis situations.

Can you tell anything about projects that only involved your remote experts?

Among recent projects, I could mention cooperation with an international IT-company that needed to reorganize its IT processes to improve work quality and reduce business costs. By introducing our experts to the customer's team and allowing them to work as part of it, we were able to use our own in-house insights in the customer's corporate environment, demonstrating that our service standard can be applied internationally. To achieve this result, our experts worked with the use of technologies and approaches that we had studied and tested, including lean production and design thinking methodologies.


If your employees are invited to join projects at other companies, are they employed on staff?

Usually all of our specialists are employed at our company, unless the customer requires otherwise.

And are there risks that the employee will want to stay with the customer's company? How do you retain your employees?

We enter into legally binding formal agreements with our customers, to minimize possible risks. But that is not our main concern. What matters more is that working in the customer's environment is a great opportunity for our employees to learn the trade from the inside, and to bring something new to it or to learn something for themselves without changing employers. In addition, our company creates and maintains a corporate environment where employees feel comfortable. We have worked on this environment for a long time: we studied and applied global experience in this area, while being guided by our values and principles; we formed a corporate culture; and now we are trying to make the most of the fruits of our labor and the experience gained.

What "raw" data do you ask for before you start working with customers in order to understand service scope and composition?

When we are providing a comprehensive service, it is important for us to understand what tasks need to be solved, what environment we will be working in, and what results the customer expects from us. If we are talking about the "dedicated expert" format, then it is sufficient to understand the expert's role on the team (developer, system administrator, project manager, etc.), the list of required competencies, and the level of maturity (junior, middle, senior). 

And to conclude the conversation: what is your advice to businesses? Why would you recommend trying a new format of working with IT professionals?

Speed, high quality and profitability. After signing all the necessary documents, we can assign an experienced expert to the project in just 1 business day, allowing the customer's top managers to focus on their core tasks without wasting time on resource search. So if you have long been planning to bolster your IT team's ranks with specialists that possess unique expertise, either on a temporary basis for a specific project or on a permanent basis, GDC Services welcomes you.


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