Organizations that strive to ensure their IT departments can successfully add business value can derive numerous benefits from utilizing and deploying IT skills frameworks. IT skills frameworks provide a foundation for identifying the core IT skills that are necessary to support the strategic direction of the business. The increasing trend toward business transformation in which CIOs are tasked with demonstrating business value from IT resources requires a holistic insight into the current state of IT skills readiness, the future state of IT skills readiness and the gap that exists between the two endpoints.
Deploying IT skills frameworks helps in determining the skills gaps within an organization. It can also help alleviate challenges such as hiring for the right set of IT skills, retaining IT skills, and providing for professional development for employees to acquire the necessary skills.
To use an analogy, the costs incurred from maintaining outdated technology result in a higher total cost of ownership (TCO) and a lower net present value (NPV) of IT assets. There are also many opportunity costs from a business perspective such as lower productivity, customer satisfaction and the inability of the IT organization to effectively support the business value proposition. Similarly, the costs incurred from maintaining outdated IT skills result in diminished employee morale, employee attrition, misaligned support for the business, and the ability of the organization to deploy new IT solutions and services in a timely manner.
There are many home-grown IT skills frameworks that have been developed and deployed in organizations. On the other hand, there are also a few industry developed frameworks competency models that are commonly used. What’s the trade-off between developing an internal IT skills framework vs. using an industry recognized one?
Benefits of deploying industry recognized IT competency models:
- Industry recognized IT skills frameworks typically have a broader representation of the core IT skills that exist across the industry. They have been vetted by a consortium of organizations across different industry verticals in both the private and public sector and IT professionals.
- Industry recognized IT skills frameworks have pre-defined core IT skills and can be expounded upon to more adequately represent the organization that is deploying the framework.
- Industry professionals who are familiar with implementing the IT skills frameworks are available to help deploy the frameworks and are familiar with the best practices for ensuring successful implementation.
- Industry recognized IT skills frameworks are maintained and updated on a regular basis to ensure they reflect changes in the industry and the need for new skills as technology solutions and services evolve.
- Industry recognized IT skills frameworks sometimes have related ready-to-deploy software applications that can be rapidly implemented.
These benefits also serve as considerations in making a build or buy decision on adopting and implementing such a framework.
Deploying an IT skills framework is both a professional and organizational development activity. By establishing a framework that defines core IT skills for specific job roles, employees can assess themselves against those job roles to determine where their skills gaps exist, which enables them to establish professional development and training plans that allows them to acquire the skills they need. Consequently, employees will feel that the organization is making an investment in them by providing them with new opportunities that advances their career. This heightens employee morale, strengthens retention, and increases mobility within the organization. A clearly defined set of job roles that includes core skills provides employees with information about what is needed to move to the next level or cross-functionally within the organization.
From an organizational perspective, clearly defining the core skills that are required to support the business is an opportunity to determine the organizational structure, where skill gaps exist and identify redundancies across current functional areas. Once the job roles are defined that represent the skills needed for strategic readiness, the organization can determine how those skills should be acquired, whether through enhanced employee development and training, hiring for the right set of skills, outsourcing, or providing employees additional opportunities to move to new positions in the organization.
Deciding to deploy an IT skills framework can be a challenging task for many organizations because it seems like a monumental effort. However, the benefits outweigh the associated costs and effort. Deploying an IT skills framework becomes even more attractive when factoring the costs that result from employee attrition, acquisition of new employees, and the delay in implementing business critical IT solutions and services because the skills are not available when needed.
Any organization that wants to ensure it is realizing the highest business value from its IT organization should know what core IT skills are necessary for strategic readiness. IT skills frameworks are a valuable tool for determining what core IT skills are necessary, how those skills are acquired and managed, and how those skills are aligned with providing business value.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James DiIanni has multifaceted expertise that spans 36 years in the technology, training, education, certification and consulting arenas within private and public sector organizations across multiple industry verticals. James has worked with numerous organizations to implement IT skills frameworks for the purpose of enabling IT organizations to define and develop the IT skills and organizational structures necessary for strategic readiness. He has worked with companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Citrix and Boeing. His educational background encompasses a Bachelor of Arts in Management Information Systems, a Master of Science in Information Systems Management and a Master of Education in Adult Education and Leadership.