As explained inthis recent article from Dice, the marketplace for IT contractors and technology employees is changing at a pace similar to that of technology itself. With many of the “heavy lifting” IT jobs having been outsourced either on or off shore, the IT employees or contractors that remain in high demand are those with both technical and business capabilities.
What does this mean? In order to add the value companies are looking for, prospective employees and independent contractors need to be able to both understand and communicate the business objectives of any IT activity.
The Agile framework is being implemented in more and more large organizations and communication is a pillar of Agile delivery, as all disciplines work together and collaborate throughout the development process. Agile delivery cannot be successful without all stakeholders clearly understanding the business objectives and able to communicate as such.
Furthermore, the concept of performing a single function on “an island” within an organization has either been outsourced, as mentioned, or become entirely a thing of the past.
How do you as a contractor address these changes? Firstly, take the time to understand the big picture: What is the overall project objective, not just your piece? Understand the company you are working for, their history, their results, their major projects and initiatives.
Most consultants today work with one or more staffing agencies. Hold your recruiter accountable for as much information as possible on each particular job opportunity. This information will allow you to demonstrate your business capabilities and understanding as well as your valuable technical skills.
Keep up-to-date on the overall technology landscape. If you are in Telecommunications, know what the big 3 Telco’s’ major initiatives are. If you have focused on the financial sector, know what major initiatives are coming from the big banks.
It is no longer possible to maximize your earnings and potential with technical skills alone. All aspects of IT and business have become too interdependent. Businesses rely more and more on technology every day as we know. With this increased reliance comes a greater need for technology resources to understand business objectives and vice versa.
Ironically, the single most effective way to increase your business knowledge and communication skills… is a good old face to face conversation.