In a Candidate-Driven Market, HIT Hiring Managers Can Still Land Top Talent

September 19, 2017

This DCA article appeared on healthcare-informatics.com on August 10, 2017.

It’s no secret that the growth in healthcare technology has been outpacing the talent supply. The competition for technical talent is fierce. Hiring managers are scrambling to fill open positions and often times, without success. One big reason is that HIT professionals are getting as many as 20 recruiting calls per day. It’s a candidate-driven market and they have the latitude to be very selective.  Another reason is that your organization’s hiring process may be outdated, and therefore, no longer effective.  Making a few changes to meet these challenges might just be the solution:

Know your needs. Prior to announcing your open HIT opportunity or interviewing candidates, you need to develop a job description with selection criteria. The job description should provide a clear understanding of the job’s duties and minimal requirements. For example, if you’re looking for a software implementation specialist, you may need a candidate to have 3-plus years of experience in implementing software in a healthcare setting with 3-plus years configuration experience on Facets, HealthRules, Trizetto, Diamond, Amisys advance, or similar system. In addition, you need to make sure the job’s duties align with your organization’s vision. Time spent on creating a concise picture of the hard and soft skills, education, and IT experience required of a candidate and how they will fit best into your environment will have a payoff; namely that you and the candidate will be on the same page, leaving no room for ambiguity. You don’t want to lose your shot at choice talent due to a misunderstanding over job-related functions and requirements.

Speed up the hiring process. In the overall tech sector, unemployment is currently less than 2 percent, meaning the number of American technology professionals actively seeking employment is extremely low. For healthcare tech-related jobs, there aren’t enough qualified candidates to fill the growing number of positions.  So, it’s not surprising that when a passive or active HIT professional is ready to make a job change, they get snatched up quickly. In fact, they are often off the market within 10 days. Therefore, your organization needs to move quickly. It’s time to rethink the length of their hiring process. The mindset that a longer hiring process is helpful because it ensures they have adequate time to compare candidates and ensure that they are hiring the right person for the position, is so yesterday.A longer hiring process will only cause an organization to completely miss out on nearly every in-demand HIT candidate.

Offer attractive compensation. In a candidate-driven market, you’re at risk of losing top candidates by offering a mediocre compensation package. Therefore, before you even start interviewing for a position, you need to do your due diligence and come up with the best and appropriate combinations of salary, annual incentives, long-term incentives, and benefits. You may find that generous, even outrageous, offers are being made for qualified HIT candidates, including large base salaries, bonuses, stock options and many other perks.  Payscale.com is a good resource since it provides up-to-date information on the salary for healthcare IT professionals. Remember, candidates don’t just look for a reasonable paycheck. They want a package with different types of compensation.

Provide great candidate experience. A great candidate experience has become an integral part of the hiring process for every industry and organization including those in HIT. Don’t underestimate the importance of it. The experience begins even before a candidate walks through your door with such things as a full explanation of the job, frequent contact, and a rundown of your specific hiring process. Even little things mean a lot to candidates especially when arriving for the interview including a greeter, tour of the facility, introduction to future co-workers, and technology resources, etc.  Regardless whether you make the candidate an offer or not, they will tell others about you. If you treat them with respect, they’ll be your advocate. If you don’t, they may rant to friends and family and post on social media which could prevent top talent from looking your way.

Establish personal connection. According to CNN, the average American adult devotes about 10 hours and 39 minutes every day in front of tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs, and TVs. It’s no surprise then that in today’s always-on world, job candidates are hearing back from employers via text messages. However, one of the top wishes of all candidates is being able to talk to a human during the recruiting and interviewing process.  A personal call will go a long way with a candidate and in establishing that vital personal connection. Even a brief chat can create a positive feeling about you and the organization.

Don’t overlook current employees. Because candidates are at a premium and you probably already employ some of the best HIT professionals, why not promote from within. Many organizations that are filling vacancies from their existing HIT workforce, found definite advantages besides a quick fix. For example, an existing employee already understands how the organization operates, knows the technology, fits the culture, has an existing relationship with the hiring manager, may need very little training, and most likely feels motivated by their career progression. Giving employees a career runway also helps with retention.

Be adaptable. This is no time to be inflexible. In fact, you probably will need to compromise since holding out for that one in a million HIT professional may not work.  This doesn’t mean you should settle for a bad hire. It simply means that you must be flexible in a market where IT talent is highly sought after. Therefore, if you have a list of 10 skills sets required, you may have to figure out what five are most important. Place more emphasis on hiring a person who is willing to learn, shows enthusiasm, and fits the culture.

What to Look for When Hiring Healthcare Cybersecurity Pros

By Bill Siwicki and posted on Healthcare IT News on Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Cybersecurity is not computer science or computer engineering, it is a business discipline that requires people from all backgrounds and majors.

Healthcare has special challenges securing information and devices. The consequences of a successful hack can be, at their worst, extreme results on people’s health and well-being. Medical records are worth more on the black market than identity data, and thus make health records particularly vulnerable to theft and ransomware attacks.

As a result, healthcare organizations hiring entry-level and senior security professionals should have certain abilities and areas of expertise in mind when studying job candidates, knowledge that differs based on the level of the job.

“For entry-level cybersecurity roles, candidates need to understand networks, applications, devices and how to secure them,” said Bret Fund, co-founder of SecureSet Academy, a cybersecurity education organization. “Differences will come once they’re in a role. In finance, for example, you’re looking through transactions and reviewing payment gateways. In healthcare, your focus changes to ransomware, exfiltration of data, and device security on a large scale.”

Cybersecurity is not computer science or computer engineering, it is a business discipline that requires people from all backgrounds and majors, said Mansur Hasib, program chair for cybersecurity technology at the University of Maryland University College, and author of the book “Cybersecurity Leadership.”

“There are four things that determine someone’s success: knowledge, attitude, skills, and habit,” Hasib said. “Attitude and habit determine success far more than anything else. Therefore, entry-level people should demonstrate they are excited about the mission of an organization and stress their attitude and habits to hiring managers.”

Entry-level candidates also should show passion for perennial learning and desire to innovate because cybersecurity is “people-powered perpetual innovation,” he added.

Senior positions, like the chief information security officer, require more skills, more knowledge and different degrees of each.

“Experience will be the key factor in dealing with the challenges and threats that are unique to healthcare,” Fund said. “CISOs and CSOs of tech companies will find it more complex than their previous roles. Given the choice between a senior security leader from a large tech company and a senior security leader with healthcare experience, hospitals will choose the healthcare background because the job requires a deeper understanding of the implications of breaches.”

Since prospects for senior-level positions have a job history to discuss, these candidates should be able to rattle off stories that demonstrate how they have used their knowledge, attitude, skills, and habits to deliver mission success, Hasib said.

“How did they enable an organization to maximize business benefits while minimizing business risks?” he explained. “They should share stories of how they fostered an innovation culture.”

Both education and experience are critical to the success of a candidate coming into a senior-level position. What they know and what they’ve been through and succeeded at will demonstrate to a healthcare organization their competence.

“We are seeing more creative and uncommon threats on the rise, particularly in the healthcare space,” Fund said. “Candidates should have a fundamental understanding of how to recognize and mitigate from their education, while their experience provides wisdom and maturity to combat threat actors in an effective manner.”

Lessons Learned from an Internship by Andrew Jenkins, Wittenberg University, Class of 2019

Honestly, starting as an Intern for a staffing and outsourcing company in the healthcare IT industry can be difficult at times.  Specifically, learning the new terminology and jargon has been one of the biggest challenges. This could be due to the fact that my experience with hospitals is as a patient, and my solution to IT problems is, “unplug it and plug it back in.” That being said, you can understand my apprehension when it came time to start here at DCA.

Granted, my role here at Direct Consulting Associates is as an intern for the summer, but, with my time here being so short, it was urgent that I pick up as much information as possible.

At first, I was eager to sit down at my desk, throw my earbuds in, tune out the busy office around me, and accomplish any task at hand.  Of course, the assignments given to me helped me understand what we do here at DCA, as did sitting in on meetings and team huddles. But, I was still seeking a further grasp of the Healthcare IT language.  So, how do I obtain a better understanding of all the diction used around me?

There is one critical method I have learned to help absorb useful knowledge of the industry.  Despite being hesitant to share this (for fear that my cubical mates might migrate away), I would have to declare my most important method to learning is listening to the people around me.

This listening has become pivotal because of the voices of DCA’s expert team of recruiters and researchers. As I sit at my desk, I listen to the constant conversations of our team, working closely with candidates and clients to provide the best services they can offer.  You can be told time and time again what certain words mean, but in my book, it is more helpful to hear an adept team use them.

Though a full grasp of this industry does not happen fast, I am slowly becoming familiarized with phrases like an “Epic Willow Analyst” or how certain health information systems are implemented.

Now, listening to the people around you may be great for learning some new information and terminology of your industry, but there is something arguably even more important you can gain from it: an understanding of the culture.

To me, being a college varsity athlete, it is music to my ears to hear teammates conversing and communicating to solve problems.  The culture here at DCA is no different. From team huddles every morning, to the relaying of information from researcher to recruiter, Direct Consulting Associates is truly a “team of teams.”

7 HOT IT OUTSOURCING TRENDS — AND 7 GOING COLD by Stephanie Overby Featured in IT News, July 19, 2017

The days of low-cost commodity services are waning, as IT organizations seek stronger strategic partnerships with IT outsourcing providers in the era of digital transformation.

As IT organizations become more strategic, so too do their partnerships with IT outsourcing providers. Digital transformation, automation, and the data revolution are not just shaking up how IT operates, they are greatly impacting the kind — and quality — of services under contract with IT outsourcing firms.

Here is a look at the technologies, strategies and shifting customer demands shaking up IT outsourcing right now and the once-hot developments that are beginning to cool. If you’re looking to leverage an IT outsourcing partnership, or want to make good on the market for IT outsourcing as a provider yourself, the following heat index of IT outsourcing trends should be your guide.

Heating up: Rapid software development

IT organizations are increasingly looking for partners who can work with them as they embrace agile development and devops approaches. “Organizations are rapidly transforming to agile enterprises that require rapid development cycles and close coordination between business, engineering and operations,” says Steve Hall, a partner with sourcing consultancy Information Services Group (ISG). “Global delivery requires a globally distributed agile process to balance the need for speed and current cost pressures.”

Cooling down: IT services silos

As companies embrace new development methodologies and infrastructure choices, many standalone IT service areas no longer make sense. “In the past, companies may have sourced app services from one provider and secured cloud services from another,” says Ollie O’Donoghue, senior research analyst with HfS Research. “Now, thanks to new methodologies like devops and the increased ‘cloudification’ of business infrastructure, the lines between distinct IT services are blurring. Service providers and clients are far more likely to procure a blend of IT services to deliver business outcomes from a single vendor [rather than] contracting segments of IT out to a range of suppliers.”

Digital transformation is driving demand away from compartmentalization and silos of service delivery and toward frictionless integration, says David J. Brown, global head of KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory.

Some IT service providers are becoming one-stop shops for their clients through brokerage services or partnership agreements. “Offering clients a full spectrum of services from best-in-class providers is enabling providers to broaden the scope of their offerings, and clients to select the technologies and services that suit them,” says O’Donoghue. “Even large providers which formerly cornered the market with proprietary technology are starting to champion vendor agnosticism in a bid to offer clients impartial, best-in-class IT services.”

Heating up: Cloud integration

Enterprises are moving more workloads to the public cloud, but continuing to run certain applications in dedicated private cloud environments for security, regulatory or competitive reasons. So they’re looking for providers that can seamlessly manage and integrate their hybrid cloud environments, says Rahul Singh, managing director with business transformation and outsourcing consultancy Pace Harmon. “Increasing adoption of software-as-a-service models for specific applications (such as Salesforce and Workday) creates further operational complexity for enterprises,” Singh adds.

Cooling down: Traditional remote infrastructure management

Over the past decade, the offshore delivery of infrastructure management services — from network services and help desk support to server maintenance and desktop management — became mainstream. But remote infrastructure management (RIM) is no longer a growth industry for IT services providers; it can’t compete on price with the public cloud, where adoption rates are growing at compound rates of 25 percent a year. “Almost every enterprise is taking a cloud-first strategy,” explains ISG’s Hall. “Service providers are shifting to cloud management services; but with the double whammy of integrated devops, even this is a short-lived venture.”

Heating up: Talent wars

An increase in consultancy-led engagements and the subsequent demand for more specialists and advisors in IT outsourcing is inspiring IT service providers to turn their attention to talent acquisition and retention, according to analysts at HfS Research. “The challenge of recruiting and retaining the talent necessary to deliver high-quality services has been brewing for some time,” says O’Donoghue. “The spectrum of skills in demand is becoming more focused, [and] providers seeking to compete in the modern marketplace will need to work harder to attract talent.”

Cooling down: Labor arbitrage campaigns

Sourcing IT services in the lowest-cost locations is no longer a competitive advantage, as clients demand use of automation and tools to drive efficiencies instead. “Organizations are driving massive productivity improvements through technology, not labor,” says ISG’s Hall. “Developing a solution that is based on low-cost labor won’t even get a CIO meeting in today’s market. Top IT leaders are driving massive digital transformation projects, and most service providers have adapted their message and core capabilities to be more than low-cost labor.”

Geography is becoming increasingly irrelevant to outsourcing decisions, says Marcos Jimenez, CEO of Softtek US and Canada. “Customers demand providers who are responsive, flexible, innovative and able to leverage emerging technology and solve business problems. They don’t care about where the work is done.”

Heating up: Automation results

Cost savings based on human labor are being supplanted by those delivered by so-called “digital labor.” Enterprises are demanding automation capabilities from their outsourced providers. “Automation not only provides increased efficiencies but also brings proactive capabilities to deal with issues before they become business-impacting events, which adds significant value to enterprises beyond the typical cost reduction opportunities,” says Singh of Pace Harmon.

Automation is taking hold across middle and back-office functions that have been traditionally outsourced. “If you want to compete, you must automate,” agrees ISG’s Hall. “This is causing disruption in traditional sourcing models and driving service providers to make big bets and commitments on future pricing.”

Innovative clients and providers are taking an “automation first” approach, says Rajeev Tyagi, chief operating officer at Softtek. “Rather than identifying human activities within an IT or business process that can be automated, enterprises will use digital labor as the starting point,” he says.

Cooling down: Automation hype

The results of automation are also becoming more transparent. Service providers are now expected to detail the iterative efficiencies that automation will create for clients, says Jamie Snowdon, chief data officer for HfS Research. Unfortunately for providers, that means they can no longer keep the savings to themselves. “Undoubtedly, as newer forms and blends of automation technologies enter the marketplace, vendors will be increasingly required to share the benefits with their well-informed clients,” says Snowdon.

Heating up: Captive offshore delivery centers

With technology becoming a competitive differentiator across industries, every company is becoming a tech company — from automakers to oil and gas providers to retailers. And that’s leading a broader swath of previous IT outsourcing customers to set up their own captive technology services delivery centers offshore, says Hall of ISG. “To compete and scale, enterprises want ‘badged’ resources, which means captives are back as a popular model to accelerate the adoption of automation and maintain the intellectual property for cutting-edge solutions.”

Cooling down: Low-cost service desks and call centers

Likewise, in an era that values superior customer and employee experiences, companies are placing more emphasis on the resources and technology employed to operate their internal service desks and customer-facing call centers.

“Call center consolidation and the desire to partner with strategic vendors continues, but call volumes are still high,” says Jimit Arora, a partner at Everest Group. “While virtual agents and chat bots are becoming prevalent, we see companies being reluctant to expose customers to these technologies just yet. They don’t want blow-back akin to interactive voice response system.”

Meanwhile, “the workplace of the future has made the service desk relevant again,” says Hall. “ CIOs and IT leaders quickly realized that outsourcing the ‘face to the business’ to a third party may not be in their best interest.  Look for more creative, on-site and integrated solutions as organizations integrate a complete workplace solution into their delivery models.”

Heating up: Populism and protectionism

Concerns about U.S. immigration reform and the impact of Brexit are driving some IT and business services back to domestic locations, says Stan Lepeak, director of KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory.

Cooling down: H-1B panic

However, anxiety about potential changes to the H-1B program in the U.S. has been allayed — for now. “The Trump Administration’s early saber rattling appears to have sparked renewed interest in artificial intelligence and robotic processing as ways to reduce cost and eliminate jobs without offshoring,” says Dan Masur, partner in Mayer Brown’s Technology Transactions practice in Washington, D.C. “[But] other administration policies and objectives appear to have eclipsed outsourcing issues, at least for the moment.” Many of the biggest users of H-1B visas were already increasing their American hiring prior to the last election.

Heating up: Business-based metrics

One of the biggest changes facing the IT services industry in this period of business transformation is how to quantify services. Contracts are shifting from traditional input or transaction models to those built on business metrics and results. “We’ll soon see a move from traditional arrangements — like FTE models — pushing beyond convoluted outcome-focused metrics and into the heart of the client companies with business-linked metrics,” says Snowdon of HfS Research. “We can expect more deals to focus on specific outcomes measured by business metrics.”

Client expectations are rapidly evolving. HfS analysts are seeing client engagements begin with a particular business challenge, with prospective vendors asked to tailor a solution to them. The result is an increase in consultancy-led engagements, which carefully design solutions for the customer.

Cooling down: IT services industry growth

Secular forces have driven the outsourcing industry into significant deceleration. The results of the second quarter of 2017 have yet to be announced, but the top 20 publicly traded IT services companies saw 2.1 percent year-on-year organic growth in the first quarter, according to the Everest Group. “This is the lowest growth number in the last three years, and represents an industry that is witnessing significant pressures due to digital technologies, pervasive automation, new business models, and immigration-related concerns,” says Everest Group’s Arora.

The top five Indian IT companies have experienced seven straight quarter of growth deceleration with a forecast growth rate of less than seven percent over the next 12 months, according to Arora. The key will be to evolve from arbitrage-based models to those built for digital transformation, which will require all providers to spend capital on new capabilities.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Working Remotely

July 12, 2017

This Blog was originally posted on December 14, 2016 but because of high interest, we are running it again.

In 2015, it was estimated that almost 45% of US employees worked remotely, mostly from home. By 2020, it is estimated that about 50% of the workforce will be working remotely. Cloud services, mobile platforms and videoconferencing have made remote work possible and very acceptable to both employees and employers.

Many industries are making it known that they are friendly to telecommuting including IT, HR/Recruiting, Education, Accounting, Health, Law, Marketing, Nonprofit, News/Media, Sports, and Travel. In addition, the site FlexJobs.com was created to help those seeking telecommuting opportunities connect with companies and jobs that offer remote work, flexible schedules, part-time hours and freelance assignments.

However, with everything, there are pros and cons. So before you make the change from working in an office to working at home or from another location, you might want to first consider these advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages

Work from anywhere and anytime. No longer are you limited by a geographic location or a clock. Thanks to telecommuting, employees are now able to work from pretty much anywhere at any time of day. The traditional 9-5 working day no longer applies.

No daily commute. Most people don’t enjoy their daily trek into an office. Working remote allows you to avoid a lengthy commute by car, train, or bus which enables you to start your workday earlier and calmer.

Flexibility. You would be in charge of your own schedule and possibly more efficient. Working from home and the flexibility it offers, may also suit your family life. You would have the freedom to run errands, take the kids to school, attend school or sports functions, etc. as long as you get the job done and meet any pre-established deadlines.

Less costly. Working from a remote location or from home, means you save money on transportation costs, eating lunch out, and purchasing a business wardrobe. Unless you do video conferencing, you can wear informal clothes and no longer need to budget for that work wardrobe.

Better health. Remote workers say they have more time to incorporate physical exercise into their day. In addition, they are not exposed to sick co-workers. On the flip side, if you’re the sick person, staying home allows you to take care of yourself while still being productive.

Less interruptions. Working remotely allows you to focus on the job at hand without the distractions of socializing and office chatter. You have the ability to get into the zone and buckle down to complete your assignment.

Disadvantages

Need for high self-discipline. It takes a lot of dedication and self-control to work at home and not succumb to distractions. It’s easy to lose motivation and focus which are pitfalls to your success. Therefore, it’s important to be intentional about how you’re using your time. You need to structure your environment in such a way that keeps you engaged.

Lack of workplace social life. You can easily interact with co-workers and clients via technology but it’s not the same as face-to-face meetings, lunching together or just everyday banter. Remote workers often feel isolated. To counteract isolation, try going into the office now and then or schedule lunch dates with bosses and colleagues.

Overlooked for promotions. There’s a danger of being overlooked for promotions or career development opportunities when working remotely. Those visible employees in the office who are aggressively campaigning for the position will probably have the edge. You can try and counter with regular visits to the office and open lines of communication. You need to express your interest in the upward mobility you want.

Total dependency on technology. As a remote worker, you have to rely on email, smart phones, laptop, etc. to stay in contact with the office and clients. You are totally dependent on the right technology to be in business. It’s also up to you to keep up with technology that evolves so rapidly.

Blurred lines. You would think that working remote would allow you to enjoy more of a work/life balance but actually it doesn’t. When you don’t have a clear separation of workplace and home space, they can blend together. You might not be able to just switch-off from work and find yourself constantly checking your smart phone and emails.

There’s no doubt that remote work is on the rise. It’s easier than ever to stay connected in our era of email and smart phones and many employees believe it increases their quality of life.

Please let us know if you work remotely and if there are any other advantages or disadvantages than listed. You may comment below.