Winter 2018 Strategic IT Partner Forum – The Partner Recruitment Challenge


On Thursday 22nd of November the seventh Strategic IT Partner forum (previously known as the IT BRM/IT BP forum) took place near Heathrow. In my opinion the content of the day was our best yet (but lunch could have been better) and offered those in the IT Partnering community an opportunity to network and attend various talks, including:

  • Liam Hogan – The role of Strategic IT Partners in Digital Transformation
  • Ian Golding – A CIO’s Perspective on Delivering the Technology Vision
  • Matt Ballantine – Cross Silo Responsibilities and Developing the Agile Mindset
  • Luke Radford and Zach Arundel – Innovation Case Study
  • Deborah Meredith and Richard Coldwell – Relationship Maturity Model Case Study
  • James O’Driscoll – The Partner Recruitment Challenge
  • Jon Baxter – Demonstrating Value and Managing Expectations

We’re currently in the process of collating all the content, findings and recommendations from the event but in the meantime I wanted to share my initial thoughts from the workshop I hosted in the afternoon.

Recruiting IT BRMs/IT BPs is difficult

We’re already fully aware of the growing technology skills shortage. Big numbers like 1.3 million (the number of job postings for core IT positions placed by UK employers in 2017 according to CompTIA’s annual workforce study, a six per cent increase from 2016) and £63 billion (the lost additional GDP according to the Edge Foundation’s report on skills shortages) pop up freely when googling “technology skills shortage”.   I’m guessing the B word won’t help matters either.

In addition to this technology skills shortage, you’ve got other factors that make recruiting IT BRMs/IT BPs even more difficult, which include:

1.      Hiring an IT BRM/IT BP is not one size fits all.

2.      The most important skills of an IT BRM/IT BP are their behaviours and business knowledge.

3.      The role is sometimes still misunderstood.

What happened on the day?

The workshop was broken up into two key areas: attraction (so how we find the candidates in the first place) and selection (making sure we hire the right candidate). Delegates were asked to consider both internal and external candidates for both areas. Sadly, due to time restrictions we could not discuss retention which as a delegate from the day rightly pointed out, is just as important.

Within each area we then had three main discussion points:

·        Key challenges

·        What has worked in the past

·        Being creative

Whilst I won’t go through all the points raised here I believe it is fair to say the majority of those discussed in challenges and what has worked in the past were, whilst all very valid, not too surprising.

Time for a change?

I believe there is an ongoing issue for certain organisations when recruiting IT BRMs/IT BPs (I’ve seen vacancies live for over a year). For those organisations that are struggling to recruit it may be time to stop with the tried and tested methods, which aren’t working, and think more creatively. If you’re in this situation, please consider the following:

1.      Don’t be fixated on the perfect match (whether at CV review or interview stage). Keep Pareto’s law in mind.

2.      Remember 50% of the skill set of a IT BRM/BP is in their behaviours. Make sure you attract and hire on that basis.

3.      Involve your business stakeholders from the very start of the process.

4.      Don’t focus on technology. This can be learnt far easier than behaviours and business knowledge.

5.      Make sure you’re ready to hire (think salary, where the role sits, how are IT services performing, culture etc.).

6.      It’s a two-way process. It is just as much about the candidate finding out about you as you finding out about the candidate.

As a community we need to ensure we recruit the right IT BRM/IT BP at the right time. If this doesn’t happen it will impact our brand and perceived value. If the standard recruitment tools and processes are not working, perhaps now is the time to think of a different way?

My thanks to the delegates who attended the workshop on the day and to my co-committee member and time keeper extraordinaire Thierry Ackermann (  To review a full output summary of the workshop please go to my web site –

Your thoughts and comments are, as always, very welcome.

James O’Driscoll BRMP®

Director – Gilbert Scott Associates