Investment in people pays off

Investment in people pays off

Staff retraining was crucial to Nottingham Building Society scheme

Nottingham Building Society has successfully completed a £10m technology overhaul thanks to a major training scheme focusing on both IT staff and users.

The organisation replaced both hardware and software after a strategic review in 2006 concluded it needed a revamp to keep up with business growth.

The most crucial success factor was people management, IT director Jack Cutts told Computing.

“It was a huge project, particularly considering the size of our organisation, but the technology aspect is easy compared to dealing with people,” he said.

All 500 employees in contact with technology were re-trained to use the consolidated and simplified systems.

“Everyone has a specific knowledge base that is valuable when coupled with IT, so skills transfer and training are central to business,” said Cutts.

One of the organisation’s main goals was to free up the IT department to focus on strategic business objectives rather than on maintaining old systems. So re-training for the technology team was also a priority.

“We needed an open-minded attitude from the team because they have gone from experts in running old systems to beginners in the new structure,” said Cutts.

“IT should keep the business moving forward, in the background ­ if I never hear anyone talk about the technology, I know we have done our job,” he said.

Other large corporations need to follow Nottingham’s example to help address the IT skills shortage, said the Association of Technology Staffing Companies’ chief executive Ann Swain.

“Real benefits can be obtained with investment in the workforce,” she said.

“Companies need to focus on a rule of three: recruiting, retraining and retaining staff, instead of going for the quick fix of temporary solutions.”

Technology itself should always be the slave, not the master, said Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to skills group the Institute for the Management of Information Systems.

“About 80 per cent of the task is getting the human element right through technical and professional training,” he said.