The technical complexity of projects is increasing across all industry sectors. As a consequence, project managers are having to specify more precisely the skills and competency levels needed for successful project delivery. There may only be a few individuals that meet each requirement, but resorting to lesser skilled staff can have significant ramifications for the project. Maintaining a comprehensive skills database is the logical starting point.
How does this work in practice? Project managers can easily specify the skills and competency levels required for each task. For example, System > ERP > Netsuite with a minimum competency of Advanced is shown as a requirement in the screenshot below. Note that the skills database is presented as a skills matrix structure.
Defining the skill and competency level requirement for an Analyst to work on the Specify task
Each Team leader sees this detail when searching for suitable candidates. Whenever their proposed resource fails to meet the required competency level, the non-compliance is highlighted in red:
Non-compliance of Pat Pringle, the proposed Analyst, is highlighted in red. Her competency level is Intermediate, not Advanced as requested.
This alerts the project manager to any shortfall, helping them to decide whether to accept the proposed candidate.
Typical contents of a Skills Database
The skills database needs to store each person’s set of skills and competencies, and any other attributes that will help locate staff that can best do the work. The database will often contain details of each persons’:
- Role, Discipline or Team – often used when looking at capacity planning.
- Their Skill sets, each with a level of competency, e.g. JAVA – Advanced, C++ – Basic, etc.
- Details of their systems or applications expertise.
- Grade – often used to link to a standard cost rate.
- Languages spoken.
- Industry sector experience and qualifications.
- Details of individual certifications, with expiry dates
More detailed data, such as history of recent projects worked on, personal aspirations and development goals etc, can also be incorporated. Innate resource management software enables you to customise the skills database to suit.
Skills and competency data is well suited to a matrix structure.
For some industry sectors, such as the Oil and Gas sector, maintaining the competency scores and certifications for technical staff is crucial. Each Role will have its own set of skills with related competency descriptions, and each individual’s level needs to be maintained. Using a skills matrix structure simplifies maintenance of the data, particularly as new skills requirements arrive and old ones are no longer relevant.
This shows the expanded leg of the System skills matrix, with competency levels of Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.
Enabling individuals to apply for recognition of new skills and increased competency scores they have gained, is a good incentive for keeping the data current. This is a simple 2 step process of request for review, followed by acceptance or rejection. Many organisations also interface their skills database with the HR system.
A range of standard reports show:
- Who has what skills and competencies, with a summary table giving the numbers for each skill and competency level.
- Demand vs capacity by skill which highlights trends and identifies staff retraining/recruitment requirements where necessary.
Without current skills data, multi-project organisations cannot be sure that appropriate staff will get assigned to their projects. Maintain your skills database easily with Innate resource management software.