Planning and Innovating in Times of Uncertainty

By Arpan Jhaveri
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The pandemic has transformed the tech world seemingly overnight. As we close out a chaotic 2020, CTO’s and their product management counterparts are actively discussing headcount and roadmap planning and their ability to innovate, given the resurgence of COVID and economic uncertainty.

Pull Ahead of the Competition

Economists expect a “long, uneven, uncertain ascent” to begin sometime next year. The opportunity to pull ahead of the competition is there for businesses that invest in innovation. “CTOs and other IT leaders need to invest in innovation to emerge from the current COVID-19 crisis ready for the next opportunities,” turning the current crisis into an “innovation accelerator,” according to InformationWeek.  

Gartner analysts warn against putting the brakes on innovation to try to wait out the pandemic. “CTOs are at risk now of focusing solely on short-term needs when it is equally important to plan for technology and innovation initiatives to help their organizations come out of the crisis and meet post-coronavirus challenges.”

2021 Product Roadmap & Headcount Planning

So how do CTOs prepare for the unknown and remain ready to seize opportunities without over budgeting and stand prepared to shift gears when priorities change? The challenge is especially daunting when it comes to staffing. Headcount is usually a team’s largest cost center, and hiring to execute against product roadmaps in flux makes right-sizing and right-skilling teams less predictable.

Getting the needed skills in a gyrating economy makes bringing on full-time engineers seem risky and is forcing CTO’s to evaluate spend and build vs. buy decisions. With remote work making geography a non-issue for hiring, new staffing models are emerging that offer more cost-effective, flexible options for building and sustaining high-performing teams. Long-term engineering staff augmentation firms have emerged to offer a fast, cost-effective way to bring on senior FTE-like developers without the time, cost, and risk of making internal hires. 

Learn from Experts

This will be the focus of a webinar on October 27–“Wait… It’s Q4 already? Are Your Staffing Plans and Budget Ready for 2021?.” Andela is bringing together veteran engineering leaders for an interactive discussion about planning and budgeting to meet roadmaps. Dana Lawson, VP of Engineering at GitHub, and VJ LeBlanc, CTO of IZEA Worldwide, will be sharing how they are approaching staffing heading into 2021, and they’re tackling issues like geography considerations, outsourcing vs. hiring, and more. Register here

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Arpan Jhaveri