Consolidation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) companies is delaying new deployments and has pushed down contract rates for ERP experts by almost a third.
The second annual ERP salary survey, conducted by recruitment company Millennium, found that even plans for new systems among organisations in banking, retail and the public sector have had little impact on the ERP job market, where permanent salaries have remained almost static during the past year.
And attempts to cut implementation costs by using inexperienced in-house staff over more expensive external consultants has had a negative impact on the quality of implementations.
Philip Keet, Millennium managing director, told vnunet.com that IT staff with ERP skills were unlikely to see the benefits of an upturn before 2004.
And with permanent staff staying put in jobs for close to four years on average, there is little opportunity for salary levels to change.
"The job market has been pretty stagnant and companies haven't been recruiting. People have kept their heads down, but we are starting to see that changing as companies start to ease off cost reduction," he said.
A glut of affordable staff with product and vertical market expertise means a change from the days of contractors playing off one client against another for better benefits, daily rates and perks.
Daily contract rates have continued their downward trend, dropping a further 30 per cent this year - on top of a 22 per cent drop in 2002. Daily rates for SAP configuration consultants, for instance, have dropped from £750 to around £500.
Growth in web-based deployments means ERP experts who have suffered without work during the past year's downturn must get up to speed with both web technologies and the web strategies of the ERP vendor they focus on.
"The level of demand for ERP programmers for Y2K projects will not be repeated, and large numbers of these personnel must face up to the need to retrain and look for jobs elsewhere," said Keet.
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