IT contractor clients to demand 'more with less'

Business spending on IT in 2010 will fail to keep pace with workload demands, signalling IT contractors face another year of clients demanding more with less.

In a survey, ReThink Recruitment found that of the two-thirds of IT directors whose workloads are likely to grow, less than half expected bigger budgets to execute them.

Although not a new obstacle, the IT recruiter showed that the gap between the cost of IT work and the resources afforded to deliver it has grown since it emerged in 2009.

When asked last year, about a fifth of the IT directors had "major concerns" about delivering to budget. Today, that proportion has doubled to almost half the sample.

"For many IT departments this will be the second consecutive year in which budgets have not kept pace with workload demands," said ReThink's director Michael Bennett.

"Concern is growing among IT directors that budgets simply won't be able to cope with workload demands, as projects which were shelved during the recession are revived."

Reflecting on the findings, based on interviews with IT directors at UK and global firms, Bennett said many outfits, ranging from SMEs to blue-chip FTSE 100 companies, had shelved IT projects.

The bosses of these companies now demanding that their IT personnel do "more with less," as they were ordered last year before job cuts, will see many IT departments "stretched too thin."

"Investment in IT will be essential to helping businesses grow post-recession, but placing unrealistic demands on IT departments could hamper that growth," Bennett added. "It's a recipe for inter-departmental strife."

Some of the resulting strain on IT teams should ease if IT directors keep to their hiring plans - four fifths have plans to increase IT headcount, compared with about a third last year.

"Recession-related cost cutting measures are coming to an end and businesses are once again looking to invest," ReThink said, pointing to the directors' intentions. "This should feed through to IT budgets before too long."

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