Does your firm need a skills matrix?

If you provide professional services to a range of clients then you’ll need easy access to details of your staff’s skills and experience. Matching each client’s requirements and expectations is crucial, as assigning inappropriate staff can seriously damage important relationships. Maintaining a comprehensive skills matrix helps to ensure that only suitable staff will be assigned.

Firms that manage multiple projects and assignments generally have a matrix organization, with project / account managers that focus on meeting client requirements and team leaders who concentrate on keeping their teams fully utilized. As project managers prepare work estimates they often need to specify minimum required skills and experience levels. Resource management tools deliver these as requests to the relevant team leaders screen, so that suitable candidates can be identified. For large organizations, where the resource pool spans a wide range of skills and experience, project managers may need to be quite precise when specifying the minimum skills requirements, including specific competency levels and certifications.

What is a skills matrix?

A skills matrix provides a structured way of maintaining the range of skills and competencies within the organization. Where precise requirements need to be specified, they can be quite comprehensive. As an example, for IT services firms a Category > Technology > Manufacturer > Product structure is quite common; Networking > Cisco > Security >ASA firewall is an example of what could be in excess of a hundred rows for large organisations. For each of the lowest level elements a list of competency values is available, such as None, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced.

How does a skills matrix work?

A Skills matrix needs to be centrally maintained to ensure that a single structure is consistently applied. Typically, each individual has a view of their own validated skills and competency levels and are encouraged to apply for approval of new accreditations as they arise. The more sophisticated resource management tools provide each resource with a view of the overall structure and enables them to claim either a new skill or change in competency level to an existing one. Requested changes are then routed to the appropriate team leader for approval.

Extract from a simple skills matrix

Maintaining a skills matrix means that each of your clients will only ever have suitable staff assigned.

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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