How tech can help cut personnel costs, according to the experts

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With government bodies across the globe wrestling to keep inflation under control and grumbles of recession growing louder, many businesses are set to face a period of considerable economic pressure.

To help weather the turbulence, businesses are scrambling to find ways to cut back on costs. And, naturally, as a large contributor to expenditure, technology budgets are coming under review.

With this in mind, TechRadar Pro spoke to CTOs from various industries, who highlighted the best areas of the technology stack to target for savings. In this edition, we focus on reining in the cost of talent hiring, training, and retention using tech, as well as offering some useful advice on using technology to increase productivity in the workplace.

Automate 'low value' activity

When times are tough, deciding what a business does well and focusing expenditure on maximizing efficiency there is vital, rather trying to be a jack of all trades and master of none. One broad example of this is moving away from an in-house storage solution to a cloud storage provider. 

But, for the best efficiency drive, it may well be worth considering if there are things a business does do well that it could do even better when taken out of human hands. Framing this differently, it’s worth thinking about whether there are tedious tasks as part of a business’ specialty that take employees away from other important work.

Mandhir Gidda, EMEA CTO at digital agency Valtech, thinks that investing in an automation solution for rote tasks is the key to maximizing cost-efficiency and productivity long-term.

“Given the various economic pressures facing businesses, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen budgets tighten over the last few months. With this austerity set to continue, businesses must turn their attention to what we call value engineering – optimizing where possible to drive cost-efficiency and get the most out of their existing tech stacks.”

Invest in people where it counts

Automation can do more than free up creative brains. As automated tasks often require precision, businesses may find it useful to eliminate any sudden costs incurred by unnecessary mistakes.

Gaurav Srivastava, Chief Technology Officer at delivery logistics company FarEye, knows this all too well. He suggests that money saved via selective automated solutions should be put back into the people that drive a business’ success. Keeping them happy, he says, will keep productivity high and costs down.

“Automation of testing, deployments and maintenance with technologies, such as K8s [or Kubernetes, an open-source automated deployment system for applications], will remove the possibility of costly human errors and significantly reduce costs.”

“The [...] crucial aspect is the human one. During times of economic difficulty, businesses need to invest in their people more than ever. Retention of talent is essential because recruiting replacements is only more expensive – and reduces productivity – in the short term."

"Increased spending on training and development, wellbeing support and the best equipment may seem like an unnecessary cost right now, but in the long term, you will be saving money.”

Ignore experience

 When hiring, it can be tempting to base decisions largely on the years of experience on a CV, the idea being that with that experience comes existing training and proficiency.

But those qualities come at a price - usually a higher salary. The money saved via automation that Srivastava suggests reinvesting in existing talent can go a lot further if a business is willing to take a chance on training up brand-new talents who command smaller salaries. 

Miguel Garcia, Chief Technical Officer at UST Product Engineering, believes that this concept, known as “pyramiding”, is the way forward, and could even re-energise your organization.

“There is perhaps an obsession with the concept of years of experience. With the pace of change, sharp and focused 'newbies' can be trained and developed into productive engineers.”