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100 Best Places to Work in IT 2005

What's the secret to building a strong and satisfied IT workforce? More than money and benefits, it's the value of the work itself.

By Mary Brandel
June 27, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - For the past two years, Bill McDonough has been a project lead on one of the most stressful projects he's ever worked on in his IT career. Formerly an IT consultant, he is now senior systems analyst at Publix Super Markets Inc., an $18.6 billion supermarket chain based in Lakeland, Fla., that is ranked No. 56 on Computerworld's 2005 list of the Best Places to Work.

The project -- still in its pilot phase -- involves replacing the point-of-sale (POS) systems in Publix's 852 grocery stores in Florida and four other Southern states. So far, five stores are live, with 120 more planned for completion by the end of the year. The remaining stores will go live by the end of 2006.

So why does McDonough sound so happy? "It's been one heck of a project -- high visibility, high stress, lots of hours but a ton of fun," he says. "Getting that point-of-sale system into the store has been a real achievement."

And McDonough isn't the only one feeling satisfied with his job. To work at one of this year's Best Places is to know the rewards of challenging projects, competitive salaries and career development. In fact, our survey of 20,435 IT workers at this year's Best Places showed higher satisfaction ratings than the 2004 Best Places employees reported in a variety of areas, including bonuses, morale, corporate culture and job security.

How to account for this increase in optimism? Certainly the economy has yet to hit its stride - although the job market is improving, growth is sluggish at best, with the jobless rate holding steady at 5.1%. And the offshoring trend continues unabated, with this year's Best Places respondents reporting an increase in their companies' use of offshore contractors, up from an average of 47 contractors last year to 69 today. Meanwhile, Forrester Research Inc. expects growth in IT spending to remain at 2004's 7% level.

But McDonough's satisfaction has very little to do with economic indicators. He says the answer may have something to do with living in Central Florida itself, as well as the stability of Publix, a 75-year-old, employee-owned organization where nearly a quarter of the IT staff has tenure of 10 years or more and where no one from IT was laid off during the downturn.

Bill McDonough, Ana Lorenz and Mike Imperiale of the Publix IT department
Bill McDonough, Ana Lorenz and Mike Imperiale of the Publix IT department
Image Credit: Gregg Matthews
A bigger factor, though, is McDonough's experience of working on a meaningful project with a team of IT and business people who are fully vested in the project mission and what it takes to achieve a successful outcome. Despite the stress, he says, it's the best project he's ever worked on.


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