We Need A Better Way to Visualise People’s Skills

Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently posted an article entitled ‘We Need A Better Way to Visualise People’s Skills’ by Michelle Weise.

The article posed the question ‘How can companies get a better idea of which skills employees and job candidates have?’ It stated that ‘simply collecting data is not enough – to be used, data has to be presented usefully’.

Michelle goes on to discuss a potential model such as GitHub (a social networking site for web developers) and the GitHub profile that illustrates how much a person has contributed to the platform.

However for ICT, we already have a framework and supporting automation that provides us with a visual representation of what skills we currently have within our organisation and how they map to the skills we need now and into the future.

Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is a competency framework that describes the skills needed to fulfil roles within the ICT field. SFIA is administered by the SFIA Foundation and is supported by government and industry in the UK. This framework is used world wide as a preferred way of describing ICT skills.

First published in 2003, and regularly updated, SFIA has become the globally accepted common language for the skills and competencies required in the digital world.

SFIA V6 describes 97 skills. Each skill entry comprises an overall definition and descriptions of each of up to seven levels at which the skill might be exercised. These descriptions provide a reference of how the skill and level combined produce a more detailed definition of what level of competency each skill is practiced at.

Skills are grouped into categories and subcategories

  • Strategy and Architecture
  • Change and Transformation
  • Development and Implementation
  • Delivery and Operation
  • Skills and Quality
  • Relationships and Engagement

These categories and sub-categories do not equate to jobs, roles, organisational teams, or areas of personal responsibility. The grouping is intended to assist people who are incorporating SFIA skills in role profiles or job descriptions, or who are building an organisation’s competency framework. The categories and sub-categories do not have definitions themselves, they are simply logical structural containers to aid navigation – it is usual for a specific job description to comprise skills taken from multiple categories and sub-categories.

The following diagram shows the SFIA categories, subcategories and skills with the seven levels of responsibility. (A larger version can be downloaded here).


Once the skills and level of responsibility for each role have been determined, the following can take place:

  1. Definition of training and development requirements for each role
  2. Gap analysis of competencies required to undertake the role
  3. Development of training and development plans for individuals

SFIA can also be used to determine organisational wide capabilities through individual self-assessments and validation, which can identify gaps but also skills that the organisation was not aware it possessed.

SkillsTx can be used to identify the SFIA skills and other characteristics of a role. SkillsTx automates the creation of role definitions including the generation of job descriptions.

SkillsTx also automates candidate self-assessment to determine gaps between current capabilities and those contained within the role definition. An illustration of the output of a self-assessment is shown below.


Self-assessment can be validated through 360-degree feedback with a manager or validation via a certified SFIA consultant.

Training and development plans can then be generated to increase an individual’s capability to perform the role.

SkillsTx can be used as an ongoing training and development management system to manage the IT skills and capabilities across the organisation.

The following is a screenshot from SkillsTX of the Analytics that can be performed. It gives you a birds eye view of the organisational capabilities that can be drilled down into; allows you to filter results using the SFIA6 framework skills category, sub-category and level checklists; and you can identify personnel with the specific skills you need now or in the future.


So back to the HBR article question: ‘How can companies get a better idea of which skills employees and job candidates have? Simply collecting data is not enough – to be used, data has to be presented usefully’.

For ICT the answer is SFIA and SkillTx.

Macanta is a gold reseller of SkillsTX and has accredited SFIA consultants who can assist you.

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