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  • Writer's picturebillwhite

Staff Augmentation - Finding the Best People

In the last few years I have noticed an interesting trend. Duck Creek and Guidewire resources are almost impossible to find. Even worse, finding competent Duck Creek and Guidewire resources is a nightmare. Not only to insurance companies that need system implementation and support, but for SI's! The unknown secret today is most SI's are turning to specialized Duck Creek and Guidewire staffing companies to staff their projects. They aren't hiring them.

Why is that and how do I, as an insurance company professional, get the best augmented resources for the best price?

I will give you some tips and hopefully this will help you on your ongoing implementation as well as give you some hope for finding maintenance resources.

Let's get this out of the way. There is more demand for resources for Duck Creek and Guidewire than there the supply. This is worldwide. We have to live with that. You probably already knew this and was thinking duh!!! Let's discuss why that is.

First, core system implementation is exploding. As insurance companies race to transform their core billing, policy and claims systems, they are also gearing up their digital implementations. I will have more on digital in another article. Naturally, this is putting a burden on the supply of resources for these systems.

Second, the recent immigration limitations are having a real impact. It's almost impossible to get an H1 transfer from one location to another any sooner than six months. Also, new H1 applications have been scaled back and it's difficult to get foreign labor into this country quickly in the numbers that are required to meet demand.

Third, most implementations that are on-going are taking longer than estimated and thus the delay of planned redeployment of resources is impacting the market significantly.

Fourth, the industry just can't train and deploy good resources fast enough. There is a real process that takes basically two years to get a good Duck Creek or Guidewire resource up to speed. Unfortunately, most resources out there these days aren't trained properly... and it shows in poor implementation performance.

Fifth, the general job market is booming as well and good resources can find well paying jobs elsewhere. When I train resources, I look for people that are interested in the insurance business as a long-term prospect. Tech people might be more compelled to go into .net or Java rather than configuration off insurance systems. People who are committed to the industry will stay longer.

So, where and how do you get good resources?

First, any firm who does "just in time" hiring as their main souring strategy is generally not a good source. They tend to hire job hoppers and pay too much for less quality performers.

Hiring directly is an option, but prepare to pay big bucks. Your company's incremental pay increase strategy needs to be able to counter-offer 35% or more increases quickly to offset offers from SI's. I think for an insurance company, this is not a scalable model.

There are a lot of quality smaller firms that are based in the US and offer top quality resources onshore. Typically, their folks tend to be more loyal and are more incentivized to stay committed to the firm because of a family style setting, better work conditions and better leave time. This is a good source. You will find long-term Guidewire and Duck Creek resources this way. Most of these firms, however, support one platform vs. the other.

Hiring your own team from local universities and colleges can work, but it takes time. You will need to train and nurture them. You should seek out some advisory help on this as there is a solid process that works very well that will succeed.

Lastly, don't take an SI vendor or a Head Hunter at their word when it comes to resources. I am not implying there is any nefarious conduct but they often don't know who they are pushing.

I think we have about five more years of this demand vs. supply crunch as the implementations in flight will be done or ramping down. So, maintenance is another topic which I will address in another article.

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