The Great Retirement Looms.

We have all heard of the “Great Resignation”, but another looming Great Problem is the “Great Retirement”. In the third quarter of 2020, close to 30 million baby boomers retired in the US, 3.2 million more than the same quarter in 2019. This trend continues as people take stock of what brings them meaning – traveling, family, and quality time without corporate stress. 

With 10,000 baby boomers in the US eligible for retirement each day over the next decade, this translates to more than 75 million people retiring in the foreseeable future.

These statistics are similar in Europe, where 16% of the current workforce is 55+, and in places such as Germany, Finland, and Sweden close to 1 in 5 are mature workers – in the US, it is 1 in 4.

Every industry will lose a large segment of its workforce, especially those in leadership positions such as senior engineers. Organizations are acknowledging concerns. However, only 17% have considered the long-term effects of this retirement gap — not only losing labor and leaders, but also safeguarding knowledge and skills.

Succession Planning for Success

The Great Retirement will bring challenges and opportunities as subject matter experts (SME) retire, and technology and AI continue to advance. We are entering a time where institutional knowledge is passed from the heads of Senior Employees, to technology, and the written word becomes more important than ever because it is the official record as knowledge transitions from tacit to explicit.

 Focusing on requirements, succession planning and the Great Retirement play a significant role.

An SME has developed their knowledge and skills over years of writing requirements, and can interpret requirements even when they aren’t well written. They understand the specifications and the intended design inputs. They identify  errors, risks, and areas of concern that impact product development. When an SME retires, their instinctive know-how and tacit knowledge gained through years of experiences and observation requires shared activities to impart those insights. QVscribe facilitates a shared experience for SMEs to validate their requirements writing expertise, and then set standards within the tool for junior-level employees to emulate those competencies.

With the number of retiring in-house experts, there are not enough Generation Xers to replace them, and Millennials are only starting to enter leadership roles to fill the openings. These two generations, especially millennials, grew up with technology and prefer access to information with a quick feedback loop. This group of employees trusts software and tools – relying on frameworks to support their experience and fill in gaps. QVscribe provides that framework, capturing explicit knowledge and seamlessly integrating it as a step within the requirements process.

This is an effective replacement for reports, manuals, and guides which aid in manual, not automated processes. These documents remain important, but now become supporting documents, not a critical part of the requirements system.

Because of the Great Retirement, employees will need to become more effective to maintain and, in some instances, increase productivity.  According to the Telegraph, new technologies lead to an over 80% increase in office productivity. Adding software tools means employees can focus on the value instead of the routine task. You grow your business and expedite product development without adding (human) resources. Requirements must be written efficiently and correctly, with fewer rewrites, shorter review times, and fewer rework. QVscribe ensures your requirements are well-written and error-free.

As the advancement into senior-level roles becomes necessary, so too does the improvement of training and skills development. Junior employees will need to have the capacity to learn more and quicker than before. Spending decades honing a skill set is no longer an option. QVscribe is used to guide coaching, build good habits, and instill best practices. QVscribe establishes a direct and repeatable process, applying automation to knowledge management and training between senior-level employees and their junior colleagues.

As employees retire, so does their manner of working, which can provide an opportunity to set new practices when writing requirements, like leveraging software tools to enhance product management. QVscribe removes the complexities of writing requirements by applying industry standards, writing principles, and preferred structure, plus is customizable to your corporate guidelines.

Capitalizing on the Newest Industrial Revolution

As we enter the fourth industrial revolution with advancements in technology, robotics, genetic engineering, and quantum computing, we are in a new era integrating communication with automating practices and traditional methods.

Understandably, there is  anxiety about what this means for current positions and current familiar processes. No technology can fill the void of losing an SME. But capturing their tacit knowledge and making them explicit  for future projects means that their expertise is preserved and shared amongst all employees to expedite advancement. The product development team becomes  more effective and successful through well-written requirements.

Requirements are the foundation of every project. They establish a common understanding that provides the inputs to design. Requirements quality correlates to project success, and having a robust succession plan which includes software adoption ensures  knowledge and experience are transferred from your retiring SMEs to the next generation of leaders.

Interested in learning more? Read more in QRA’s  Labor Shortage Infographic