In light of the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, employers and jobseekers alike are seeking to adapt and create stability for their businesses and livelihoods. Brexit has not created a mass exodus of businesses or professionals from the UK as of yet, but it has had a decisive impact on the ongoing war for talent that rages within the Enterprise Technology (ERP) market.
Traditionally, London has been a desirable destination for ERP consultants. London won both hearts and minds of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and Salesforce consultants with an attractive metropolitan city centre, a wealth of Fortune 500 employers to work with and attractive contract rates in Pounds Stirling. However, over the past year Brexit has soured this perception of London- among other cities in the UK- as a target location for international, European and even UK ERP contractors.
In the last year, Global Enterprise Partners has registered a distinct increase of applications across European, International and UK jobseekers ERP positions in the Netherlands. More intriguing however is the geographic breakdown of these applications as impacted by the advent of Brexit.
Breaking down all applications received for opportunities in the Netherlands by Global Enterprise Partners pre-Brexit, 32% were from the UK, 30% from EU countries and 38% were non-EU. Post-Brexit the breakdown shifts dramatically with 74% of applications for Dutch opportunities coming from the UK, 16% from EU countries, and 10% from non-EU countries. While percentages may indicate a decline in EU applications to Dutch contracts, the absolute number of applications in this group has increased substantially. This suggests instead a drastic increase of UK applicants among the ranks of EU and non-EU consultants.
It is no secret that Amsterdam has not only served as a European start-up haven-- with both local and international talent setting up shop along its picturesque canals-- but also as the home base of many European Headquarters. As Brexit generates hesitation among UK and EU jobseekers, who may have previously been drawn to London, Amsterdam is proving to be an attractive substitute with major European companies initiating global transformation and implementations from their Dutch headquarters. Dips in the Pound have further propelled contractors to consider rates in Euros, tied to positions in the Netherlands.
As jobseekers are drawn towards the Netherlands, this phenomenon may just extend to multinational businesses currently headquartered in London, as they seek to chase their talent with lower contract rates and leave behind an uncertain post-Brexit business environment in UK.
So what does this mean for the long term success of the British in this war for ERP talent? Well, for firsts, nothing happens overnight. The Netherlands displays a wealth of SAP, Salesforece and MS Dynamics job offers, which has captured the attention of many contractors. However, jobseekers are far more mobile than businesses who contract them, and would likely reconsider roles in the UK should there be opportunity and stability. A clarified Brexit roll-out may, in time, deliver this. Ultimately, in order to remain a fighting force in this battle, the British will need to focus on the retaining European headquarters of Blue Chip multinationals.
The war is by no means over but at the moment it appears the Dutch are punching above their weight class when it comes to attracting global ERP talent, particularly to their business and tech hubs like Amsterdam. Furthermore, while a definitive shift headquarters for European businesses is unlikely to happen overnight it is certainly being fought out—contract by contract— in the Enterprise Technology market.
Posted on 28 July, 2017.
How can contractors stay ahead of the game when it comes to digital transformations?
Digital transformation is the tech industry's biggest buzz word at the moment. It is a term that will become increasingly relevant to the job market as industry leaders seek to stay ahead of the curve and embrace digitalization to the fullest by taking on transformations. Admittedly, however, elements of the term are broad and encompass a large set of trends and technologies that fall into the categories of 'digital' and 'transformation'-- even those working within these transformations often have difficulty defining what exactly this buzzword means, especially as it varies from company to company.
What is generally clear about digital transformations is that:
For contractors it is always important to ensure that your skillsets are up to industry standard and, for some, digital transformations may seem like a disruption to what otherwise would have been a clear and mapped out career path. As an increasing number of prospective clients look to on board contractors to support and drive digital transformations, we have a three tips to help contractors navigate this changing IT landscape:
Digital transformations in their essence are disruptive and subject companies to extensive change. One of the most visible elements of this is the proliferation of technology leadership; gone are the days of the reigning Chief Information Officer. Many companies now have tech leadership in more than one area with Chief Digital Officers, Chief Information Security Officer, Chief Technology Officer and the list goes on. Increased distribution of leadership roles highlights the renewed importance of IT within the business and demonstrates intensity of change within a work environment.
Within this context of change and new management, employers will be looking for team players that are flexible and have experience in non-traditional management styles. This means soft skills, alongside strong technical skills, will become more important in a work environment. In addition to flexibility in working and management styles, Agile and Scrum are likely to become the preferred methodologies in many companies undergoing digital transformations.
Many companies undergoing digital transformations are pushing for a process that is internally-led to ensure that the end result is reflective of their particular business aspirations. Unlike many major IT/ERP implementations, this means that there will be fewer processes that are primarily owned by Systems Integrators or outsourced to consultancies. Digital transformations are likely to generate projects/programs that feature a greater mix of permanent internal stakeholders and external specialist contractors.
While soft skills and liaising with stakeholders have always been desirable skills for many contractors, in the area of digital transformation it becomes no longer desirable but necessary. Contractors should be able to demonstrate a keen ability to align with the business and communicate with internal stakeholders. Experience on projects with similar external-internal balances will be valuable, as strong cooperation is crucial to successful internal-external partnerships within digital transformations.
As many companies embark on their first digital transformation, they seek to define what this process means for them, and understand how a transformation can optimize and bring technology to the forefront of their business. These companies are altering their internal structures to accommodate for this change, which can generate uncertainty in terms of direction and next steps.
For this reason, prospective employers will be looking to on board contractors who have experience working on digital transformations at another company. Transformations will aim to be bespoke, however, previous experience working in a similar context of change can promise some guidance for the process.
In the absence of experience working in this environment, employers will look for contractors who can demonstrate an understanding of digital transformations. Brushing up on industry news and networking with relevant experts will be advantageous. A lot can be said for learning the lingo and, with any luck, “walking the talk”. Expressing a clear motivation for getting involved in a digital transformation can go far in the absence of previous experience.
Companies undergoing their own digital transformation will look for individuals with experience in niche technologies and with other similar transformations, as well as for people with the enthusiasm and motivation to drive process within this changing landscape.
As digital transformations begin to compliment and incorporate traditional IT programs, naturally contractors will also begin to operate within this space. More than ever, contractors will need to demonstrate high capacity to work flexibly and cooperatively, and add value in understanding the challenges and opportunities posed by digital transformations.
Posted 16 August, 2017.
At some point in a career, most people working in the SAP space have considered a move to contracting. Contracting has a nice allure to it: the opportunity to ‘be your own boss’, take on exciting and intense projects, regularly change your work space, and meet new professionals in your field. And of course, let’s not forget about the financial reward. On average SAP contractors earn about 150,000 euros a year.
However, more often than not, even the most experienced professionals hesitate before ‘taking the plunge’. Is this hesitation simply natural anticipation of a major life change or are there real concerns to weigh?
It is pretty clear from the outset that a permanent role offers more traditional job security than a contract role, simply by virtue of contract length. However, this depends on the contract at hand. Contractors are often taken on for anywhere from one month to three years. Of course, security varies widely in this range. Additionally, what this does not take into consideration is that contractors are often extended in three to six month increments- and often, multiple times.
Ease of identifying opportunities
Roles in the contracting space are generally quite specific. Typically, when clients look to on board contractors, it is for a specific project or task. Because of this driver, contractors need to market themselves appropriately to secure niche roles in their areas of expertise. Sometimes it can seem difficult if you don’t already have a specialisation to determine, where you can fit into a project.
Additionally, all contracts end at some point. This creates uncertainty when contractors re-enter the job market and prompts the question: Are your niche skills still in demand?
Flexibility can be both a burden and a blessing in contracting. While the jetsetting lifestyle of most contractors can seem glamorous at first, many first-timers are daunted. They might find multiple client-sites, constant travel, and intense project work hours followed by periods no work daunting. The flexibility can be difficult to manage and even more difficult when it comes to arranging your taxes across multiple countries.
Contracting is not for everyone, but it is also not a decision that has to be taken alone. Partnering with a trusted recruiter who specialises in your skillset and field can be highly advantageous. A good recruiter will:
Professionals do not often just walk in to contracting from permanent positions, it is often a well-thought out decision. There is some degree of natural hesitation when making a major life decision like this, but for the most part, any concerns that arise can be addressed by professionals in the field—whether it be your personal connections, or a recruiter.
Posted 24 August, 2017.
The new Dutch Declaration of Independent Contractor Status (VAR) legislation has been a hot topic in the Netherlands over the past couple years, however, official enforcement has been pushed back for the second time to June 2018. While retroactive penalty from May 2016 remains valid, there are some doubts brewing as to the enforceability of the new law.
The new VAR DBA law, which refers to independent contractors, was initially approved in 2015 and sought to protect minimum wage contractors, as well as collect due taxes from higher wage contractors working in the Netherlands. Prior to 2015, applying to become an independent contractor was a relatively simple process. However, the Dutch government and tax authorities found that many contractors operating under these licences were essentially performing tasks and activities more suited towards permanent employees with none of the protections or tax withholding attributed to permanent employment. By removing the guarantee of contractor status and distributing any penalty between both contractor and client, the Dutch authorities sought to limit the number of independent contractors operating in the Netherlands.
Looking at this legislation from the perspective of SAP contractors in the Netherlands—who are within the scope of this particular law— there are several issues regarding contracting and project success that should be at the forefront of every client and contractors’ consideration.
To manage or not to manage?
First, is the relationship between contractor and client. The new VAR legislation identifies several core areas that determine the presence of a contract over employee relationship: management and services. The new legislation asserts that a contractor cannot be directly managed or supervised by a client, and ultimately, if they behave as a permanent employee, they must be considered as such. This means that a contractor must carry out work unsupervised or managed by the client, but also must behave like a contractor.
The reality of contracting, however, is that most contractors are directly managed by the client and report into a single member of staff. So what would it look like if contractors worked without this supervision?
For firsts, the plan of action and services contracted at need to be clear from the outset in the absence of management. Often this can be challenging for managers, as they may understand the contractor skillset needed to drive the project forward, but need the flexibility to ensure that contractors can carry out various tasks as needed within their stream. Additionally, managers may have limited foresight issues that might arise and unforeseen tasks that may need to be taken on. Thus, the contract will be limited in the time frame and the intention would be to extend or renew more frequently.
The idea that a contractor cannot act like a permanent employee is somewhat problematic as it is open to interpretation. This element may discourage contractors from fully integrating into a workforce and cause hesitation among clients looking to on-board contractors.
The unintended consequences of removing the management component pushes managers to improve (or at least detail) their project planning and may ultimately improve the clarity of some contractor assignments. While the ability to work independently has always been key in contracting, it becomes more important than ever. Clients will be looking for contractors with shining references from previous clients that can attest to their capabilities and ability to carry out work independently.
No room for contractors
Before the new VAR legislation, if a contractor was audited and found to be operating as a permanent employee, the contractor would bear the total cost of back due taxes. This was seen to be rather unbalanced (particularly when it came to minimum wage contractors), so under the new ruling both client and contractor are liable for any unpaid taxes and social security premiums. This increased risk on the client’s side has made many prospective companies squeamish when it comes to taking on contractors in the Netherlands.
Hesitation to bring on contractors could negatively impact the success of major SAP projects. Often these projects require specialist expertise, which is only found in the contractor market. If clients fail to secure the services of niche consultants, they may struggle to deliver the most effective results, within scope, time, and budget.
The new legislation on independent contractors has had unintended consequences outside of protecting minimum wage contractors and collecting due taxes from others. The legislation may positively impact project planning by enforcing more detailed contracts to ensure that contractors are not being managed directly by the client. However, potential enforcement of higher fines for clients in the case of violation has discouraged some to take on contractors for critical projects.
It is natural that companies become risk adverse when it comes to new legislation and their hesitation to bring on contractors is understandable. However, in reality, the risk that contractors will be found to be operating as permanent employees is low and it is a risk that is not without a solution. Global staffing agencies, like Global Enterprise Partners, ensure compliant solutions for independent contractors and manage the contract on behalf of the client. This is an additional service that we offer in order to ensure that clients not only get the right contractor with the right skills, but that they are also fully compliant with national legislation. Furthermore, companies can rest easy on boarding contractors coming through Global Enterprise Partners, as we have a negotiated agreement in place with the Dutch authorities.
With the right partnerships, it can be safe to be and safe to hire a SAP contractor.
Posted: September 4, 2017