Attract and retain talent

How To Attract and Retain Best In Class IT Resource

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape it is a challenge to attract and retain best in class IT resource.

This blog post, will explore the significance of nurturing talent in a competitive job market. We also discuss strategies that busy CIOs and CTOs can employ to overcome this challenge.

As reported in our Labour Market update, the demand for IT professionals with specialist skills is on the rise. A good example is Software Engineering roles, such as Salesforce Developers, which have moved up 140 places for Permanent hires and 67 places for contract hires in the demand ranking over the last six months. This is resulting in a highly competitive job market, and higher basic salaries and pay rates. This scarcity of skilled IT talent poses a considerable hurdle for CIOs and CTOs in attracting and retaining top-tier professionals.

To address this challenge, CIOs and CTOs must adopt a strategic approach to building and maintaining a capable team.

Here are a few thoughts to consider

  • Establishing a compelling employer brand is crucial in today’s competitive market.  Highlighting the company’s commitment to innovation, professional development opportunities, work-life balance, and unique projects goes a long way in attracting talented individuals seeking fulfilling careers.
  • Involving multiple stakeholders, such as HR, business unit leads, and team members, in the recruitment and hiring process. This can help identify candidates who not only possess technical expertise but also align with the organisation’s culture and values.
  • Offering flexible work arrangements, for example remote, hybrid or flexible working, is an attractive proposition for technology professionals seeking an good work-life balance. Embracing these arrangements can broaden the pool of talent and also increase employee satisfaction.
  • Providing ongoing opportunities for professional growth is essential for attracting and retaining skilled IT professionals. CIOs and CTOs should invest in coaching and mentoring, training and accreditations to enhance their team’s skills and support them to keep up to date with industry trends.
  • Partnering with local universities and colleges can establish a pipeline of talented graduates. Offering internships, apprenticeships, and mentorship programmes can provide valuable hands-on experience to aspiring IT professionals. This partnership also nurtures future talent for the organisation.
  • Ensuring competitive compensation packages is crucial for attracting and retaining skilled professionals. Additionally, offering a flexible benefits package that allows staff to select from a range of options that appeal to them can make your offering more attractive.
  • Delivering the best possible candidate experience at recruitment stage, interviewing at pace, making timely hiring decisions and always feeding back on the outcome of interviews. Each interaction presents an opportunity to enhance or diminish your employer brand.

Get in touch to hear more insights about the UK Labour Market and IT, and Business Change roles in particular. Additionally Change Specialists can help you attract and retain best in class IT resource and talent that you require on a permanent or contact basis, we would love to hear from you.

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How to Implement SMART Project Requirements

In this post Change Specialists CEO, John Dean, shares his tips and steps outlining how to Implement SMART project requirements. This approach supports the success of your programme of work.

Here is John’s step by step guide on how to implement SMART project requirements (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).

Step 1: Specific

My first step in creating SMART project requirements is to make them specific. This requires clear definition around what the outcome of the requirement is.

  • Identify the requirement: State what will be done. Be as detailed and precise as possible to avoid ambiguity.
  • Define success: Specify what success looks like for this requirement. When the requirement is met, what is the result? This helps ensure everyone understands what’s expected.
  • Assign responsibility: Determine who is responsible for this requirement. This gives clear accountability and ensures someone is actively working to fulfil it.

Step 2: Measurable

Next, you need to establish concrete criteria for measuring progress towards the attainment of each requirement.

  • Define metrics: Which measurements will indicate progress or completion of the requirement? This can be quantitative, such as a number or percentage, or qualitative such as a certain level of quality or completion.
  • Set milestones: Break the requirement down into smaller, more manageable components. Track and measure milestones to assess progress towards meeting the overall requirement.

Step 3: Achievable

My key step is to make sure the requirements are achievable. Consider the resources available and ensure the requirement is realistic.

  • Consider resources: What resources (time, money, personnel, equipment, etc.) are available to fulfil this requirement? The requirement must be realistic and align with available resources
  • Identify potential challenges: Obstacles and challenges block requirements from being met. Track and plan steps to mitigate.

Step 4: Relevant

Releavent requirements align with the overall project goals and objectives.

  • Align with project goals: How does this requirement fit into the bigger picture of the project? If not review and reconsider it.
  • Validate with stakeholders: Ensure all relevant stakeholders agree with the requirement and see its value. This helps ensure buy-in and support for the requirement.

Step 5: Time-bound

Requirements are time-bound,. Support this by assigning a specific timeframe for meeting them.

  • Set deadlines: Establish clear realistic deadlines for meeting requirements.
  • Monitor progress: Regularly check on progress towards completion, identify and make adjustments.

Additional insights for programme management professionals are here.

Change Specialists - Governance

Best Practice Techniques for Governing Change Programmes

In today’s uncertain economic climate and competitive landscape, having in place effective governance for IT and change programmes is critical to enable organisations to adapt, innovate, and stay ahead of the competition.

Author of today’s blog post is Julian Brown, Practice Director at Change Specialists

With technology playing such a pivotal role in driving business success, I cannot stress enough how important it is to put in place robust governance practices that ensure the successful execution and delivery of IT initiatives.

In this blog post, I will share some best practice techniques for governing change programmes. At Change Specialists we refer to this as our ‘Basic Drills’.

Define a Clear Governance Framework

Establishing a well-defined governance framework is the starting point and foundation for ensuring that an IT or business change programme is governed effectively. This framework should outline the roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes within the organisation. Key components of the framework should include:

– Defining roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, such as executive sponsors, programme managers, project teams, and governance committees. It’s important to call out the decision-making authority at the outset to avoid ambiguity.

– Establishing effective channels for communication and reporting, ensuring that stakeholders receive timely updates and are involved in decision-making processes. Regular status reports, accurate project dashboards, and executive briefing sessions are all effective communication tools. Transparency is key, no one likes surprises, and be sure to keep the updates factual.

– Developing comprehensive policies and procedures that govern the stage gates which the project will go through – for instance, initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and control of the change initiative.

Engage Stakeholders and Establish Ownership

Engaging stakeholders early on and ensuring their active involvement throughout the project lifecycle is crucial for effective governance. Here’s how you can achieve this:

– Secure strong executive sponsorship to provide strategic direction, allocate necessary resources, and remove any roadblocks that may be blockers.

– Foster collaboration between IT, the business, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure alignment of project objectives with organisational goals. Encourage open dialogue and involve stakeholders in decision-making processes.

– Assign clear ownership for deliverables, milestones, issues and risks. This accountability ensures that individuals are responsible for their respective areas and also fosters a sense of ownership and commitment.

Establish Robust Programme and Project Management Practices

Implementing effective practices is vital for successful governance of IT and business change projects. You may want to consider the following:

– Develop detailed project plans, outlining objectives, timelines, resource requirements, and deliverables. Implement a robust project management methodology. Which one you select will depend on the nature of the project.

– Identify, assess, and manage risks throughout the lifecycle. Implement a risk management framework that enables proactive risk identification, mitigation, and effective contingency planning.

– Establish KPIs and metrics to track progress, measure success, and identify areas for improvement. Regularly monitor and report on these metrics to stakeholders.

– Identify and register dependencies within the project and also those that are external i.e. in the wider organisation or outside.

Continuous Improvement and Learning

To drive continuous improvement and learning, organisations need to create a culture of adaptability and innovation. Here are some thoughts on how you might create this:

– Conduct in-depth reviews / retrospectives at the end of each project phase to capture lessons learned. Document and share successes, challenges, and recommendations for future initiatives.

– Establish knowledge-sharing mechanisms, such as communities of practice, to encourage sharing of best practice, experiences, and lessons learned across the organisation. Encourage and recognise colleagues who are leading the way on collaborating and sharing ideas.

– Embrace agile principles in governance practices, allowing for iterative adjustments and flexibility. Continuously review and adapt governance processes to address evolving needs and changes in the IT landscape.

If you would like to find out how Change Specialists can support you to deliver your IT and Business Change agenda, including effective governance for IT and change programmes, please contact Julian to schedule a call, it would be great to learn more about the work you are doing.

Why Effective Project Leadership Supports Successful Outcomes

Effective project leadership is quite rightly viewed as a critical part of the jigsaw in achieving success, especially when delivering change.

Project leaders are not only responsible for overseeing tasks and project plans; they need to inspire and motivate diverse teams to achieve extraordinary results. This blog post looks into the skill of project leadership, focusing on how project managers can foster a culture of collaboration, trust, and shared purpose in order to create high-performing teams and drive successful programme outcomes.

Project leadership goes beyond managing tasks and resources. It involves understanding the unique dynamics of each project and leveraging that knowledge to inspire teams to reach their full potential. Effective project leaders act as catalysts, guiding their teams towards shared goals, and developing an environment where creativity, innovation, and collaboration thrive.


Collaboration is at the heart of all high-performing teams. As a project lead, it is crucial to create an atmosphere where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas, challenging assumptions, and collaborating with each other.  Encourage open communication, facilitate brainstorming sessions, and establish platforms for sharing knowledge and expertise. By nurturing a culture of collaboration, project leaders can drive innovation and problem-solving.


Trust forms a great foundation of any successful team. Project leaders must earn the trust of their team members and foster trust amongst team members themselves.  Transparency, honesty, and integrity are key building blocks to establishing trust.  Be open about project objectives, challenges, expectations and progress. Empower team members by delegating responsibilities and giving them the space to make decisions within their domains.  By demonstrating trust in their abilities, project leaders inspire confidence and create an environment that will lead to high performance.


A shared sense of purpose provides a clear direction and meaning for the team.  As a project leader, it is essential to articulate the project vision, mission, and objectives, aligning them with organisational goals.  Communicate the significance of the project to each team member, highlighting how their own efforts contribute to the bigger picture.  By connecting individual efforts to the shared purpose, project leaders will instil a sense of ownership and commitment, fuelling motivation and driving exceptional results.


Inspiration and motivation are essential ingredients for high-performing teams. Project leaders should understand the unique strengths, aspirations, and motivators of each team member.  

  • Recognise and celebrate achievements, providing constructive feedback to help team members grow, improve and thrive.  
  • Foster a positive work environment by acknowledging and appreciating the efforts made by the team.  
  • Empower individuals to take risks, learn from failures, and continuously develop their skills and experience.

By providing support and motivation, project leaders can inspire teams to go above and beyond.

Effective project leadership is the key to unlocking the full potential of a team, however, do keep in mind that project leadership is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires adaptability, empathy, and continuous learning. Embrace the challenge, develop your leadership skills, and become the catalyst that propels your project team towards success and greatness.

Find further blog posts from our team of project management experts here.

Change Specialists achieve Gold status rating by EcoVadis.

Change Specialists is delighted to have been ranked among the top 5% of global companies for our commitment to sustainability, achieving Gold status following rating by EcoVadis. 

Services and business processes were measured and validated, confirming adherence to 21 recognised Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) criteria which follow verifiable international CSR standards across four key areas – environment, labour and human rights, ethics, and sustainable procurement practices.

Our Gold award affirms Change Specialists commitment to social and environmentally responsible business practices.

CEO of Change Specialists John Dean commented “We are enormously proud to have received a Gold standard rating from EcoVadis as a recognition of our ongoing efforts to be an example of responsible, sustainable and ethical business practices. It is especially pleasing to have been rated as ‘outstanding’ in the Ethics category”

EcoVadis is a widely recognised assessment framework that evaluates companies across industries on their sustainability performance, creating a global network of 90,000+ rated organisations. 
Only organisations rated in the top 5% are awarded Gold status.

The Great Return Needs Great Communication

With many organisations welcoming staff back to the office this Spring senior leader’s enthusiasm for returning to the office might, to some, suggest old school thinking, with some studies highlighting a leadership team-employee disconnect with regards future working models.  

Last summer The Future Forum surveyed 10,000 workers globally, finding three quarters (75%) of executives expressing a desire to work from the office 3-5 days per week compared to one third (34%) of staff. 44% of executives who have worked completely remotely through the pandemic, said they wanted to come back to the office every day, only 17% of staff said the same.

Many staff have missed the informal connections and culture that an office setting offers, however their default position has shifted, and they no longer want to spend time commuting into offices every day. They also put high value on the flexibility and work life balance that remote working can offer. 

Against a backdrop of staff shortages across the UK, staff who don’t believe their organisation is being transparent on post pandemic remote working, by documenting and promoting a robust home working policy, are reporting low levels of employee satisfaction This in turn is impacting staff retention, and the ability for organisations to attract and hire new talent.

Finding the right balance is at the heart of successful hybrid working. Organisations want to keep control of productivity, encourage collaboration, and build company culture. Their staff want to choose where and when they work to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Leaders should be encouraged to listen to their staff, consulting on plans for their future work model and offering a channel for them to raise questions or concerns. 

Hiring in a candidate driven market

In the current candidate driven market its essential that you move quickly to make the best hire. The market has changed, organisations need to review their hiring process and speed up the time between attracting candidates, interviewing and making an offer. 

Our advice is if the candidate in front of you has the skills, experience and approach that fit your needs, then make an offer. This may be the first person you meet, especially if your hiring partner has created a strong short list.  

Here are a few points to consider in order to make a successful hire in the current market.

Be clear on your requirement

If the requirements are clear and concise this will help you to focus on the essential skills and experience that you need. Make sure that you involve all stakeholders at the outset.

Drill down on the detail such as essential technical and soft skills, as well as budget and expectations around location and time required onsite.

Sell the opportunity

What makes your organisation a great place to work? Be clear on your offering.

This should include an overview of ways of working, such as hybrid and flexible working as well as benefits associated with the role where applicable.  

Research market rate  

Benchmark, then set a realistic budget. This will ensure that you can compete for, and retain, the best talent.

If your budget doesn’t match your requirement, it’s time to review and refine both elements.   

Establish a timeline – and stick to it

Set a timeline, ringfence diary slots to review candidate profiles and interview. Establish milestones in your hiring process in order to measure progress.

Consider a one stage interview process. 

Make a decision

Act quickly, especially when you know you’re interested in a candidate.

Even if you haven’t made a decision yet, follow up with the candidate often. The likelihood is that they will be actively interviewing. Give a clear timeframe and stay connected.   

Hire and onboard

Your onboarding process makes a big difference in how successful your new hire is within your organisation.

First, be prompt in issuing necessary paperwork to make the hire. Plan an induction, issue equipment, set up system access, schedule intro meetings – you want the first impression of working with your organisation to be a positive one.