Skills database – Staffing your projects when skills and experience really matter

Clients increasing insist that only suitably qualified personnel are assigned to their projects. Advances in technology are rapidly increasing specialization of the workforce and locating suitable staff requires more data on each person’s skills and experiences. Just take a look at the range of Training and Certification options on the Cisco website to see the exponential growth in available options. Maintaining a comprehensive skills database has never been so important.

So what are the essential components of a skills database? Whilst the content will vary considerably across different industry sectors such as IT and engineering services, there are several common components:

Skills classification structure

The complexity of the skills data will often warrant a skills breakdown structure, similar to having a work breakdown structure when planning complex projects. For IT projects this often consists of a Manufacturer > Technology > Product type structure. Individual resources can have multiple combinations of these.

Levels of proficiency

For each skill claimed by an individual, a proficiency level must be recorded and appropriate certifications noted. As certifications are often time limited, expiry dates will be needed and, as individuals attain greater proficiency, having the date when the improved level was achieved can be useful.

Other attributes for the skills database include location and language proficiencies, etc. Often professional qualifications are only recognized in particular countries or States, so these too need to be recorded.

Integration with your resource planning tool

Particularly in matrix organizations, project managers will need to specify details of their required skills and competency levels when requesting suitable resource. They will be keen to check that proposed candidates meet their minimum requirements. For those that manage external projects, seeing the internal cost rates of suitable candidates is useful so that the cheapest suitable resource can be assigned.

The obvious benefit of integrating the skills database with your resource planning tool is that, when dealing with a resource request, team leaders can see the availability of each suitable candidate. There is little point in selecting the most suitably qualified candidate if they are already committed to another project.

Barry Muir is a Director of Innate Management Systems Ltd. We have been implementing resource management software in a wide variety of professional services organizations for more than 20 years.
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