Ian Tomisson, of Douglas Llambias Associates, on November’s boom sectors
“Recession? What recession?” seems to be a current issue (or non-issue) with most management consultancies. Yet the predicted recession is now becoming one of the most consistent topics raised by our candidates.
Apart from one or two isolated instances, normally in manufacturing, consultancies are continuing their search for substantial numbers of scarce, high-calibre talent to cope with their ambitious growth plans over the next two to three years. Also with staff turnover averaging around 14/15 percent across the sector, considerable recruitment effort is going into staffing current commitments let alone growth. Recruitment (or lack of it) is one of the first signs of a slow down in consultancy activity. There are no such signs at the moment!
The area of highest demand is currently still ERP. Indeed, across IT/IS consulting there is still a strong demand. However, it is in the area of SAP that there is still the biggest shortfall, with predictions across the whole industrial/commercial spectrum of the need for around 4,000 SAP specialists over the next 12 months. The consultancies therefore have their work cut out to attract those with a minimum level of configuration experience, especially when freelance contractors can earn such hugely inflated incomes. Nevertheless, the longer-term career opportunities with an established consultancy firm are extremely good for those with SAP experience. Most firms are beginning to offer “signing-on” bonuses as well as training in consulting and inter-personal skills. They will also cross train into other areas of consulting, so that SAP consultants can change direction if some other package takes over and makes SAP skills redundant. It is worth noting that many consultancies will also cross-train people into SAP, if they show all the other required personality attributes. Also, because of the problems with Baan, now may be an excellent time to change tack and learn a new product, and the many leading consultancies will be happy to assist with that process.