Deploying IT Competency Frameworks – Identifying, Assessing, Acquiring and Maintaining Skills

This is a follow-up to my previous blog on “Deploying IT Competency Frameworks: Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators.”

I introduced the following seven-step process in my previous blog. In this blog I’ll provide an introduction to steps four through seven. A combination of three blogs will provide you with an holistic overview of the process for deploying IT competency frameworks and some of the key activities that are necessary for them to be successful and provide maximum value and benefit to your organization.
The purpose of deploying an IT competency framework is to determine the skills that are necessary to support the strategic direction of the organization. Step four addresses the identification of those skills. Industry-recognized IT frameworks are fairly robust for determining the core skills associated with all aspects of an IT organization. These frameworks can be used to determine the skills for the job roles within a functional organization.

If you are going to deploy an IT competency framework, I suggest selecting one that is robust enough to provide a foundation upon which to work as well as provide the flexibility to add skills. The important thing to remember is that identifying skills is a future-state exercise. While you can build upon existing job roles, it’s imperative to know the optimal skills for that job role. Too often, job roles are viewed from the perspective of the person or people in that job role, instead of the optimal set of skills that are needed by that job role. Additionally, identifying skills that are required to support the organization may result in creating new job roles, combining job roles or removing job roles. Using an IT competency framework is an opportunity to determine functional gaps where new job roles are required and where redundancy exists between job roles.

Step five is the process of assessing skill gaps. In this activity, people in the respective job roles assess themselves against the defined skills. There are two important considerations in the assessment process:

  1. The skills that have been defined should have specified levels associated with them. You do not want an entry-level person assessing themselves a set of skills that are associated with job roles for more experienced individuals.
  2. Emphasize that this is a professional development not a performance management activity. It’s an opportunity for individuals to acquire new skills and up-level their current skills.

One of the benefits of having a clearly defined set of skills for each job role is that it allows individuals to assess themselves against job roles in other functional areas that may provide them an opportunity to move laterally within the organization. At the same time, a progressive set of skills in the job roles for one functional area enables individuals to acquire the skills they need to move vertically within the functional area. Each of these is addressed by the next step in the process.

Step six addresses the bridging of skill gaps. Identifying skill gaps provides both the organization and the individuals opportunities to invest in professional development activities. From an organizational perspective, identifying skills gaps provides insight to an employee’s level of organizational readiness and an idea of the investment required for training and development or hiring for the skills the organization needs. From an individual perspective, a clearly defined set of skills and levels enables an employee to articulate training and development plans that benefits him or her both in the organizational context for advancement as well as their career as an IT professional. The end goal is to ensure both the organization and the individuals have the skills they need to be successful.

Deploying IT competency frameworks should be a long-term and iterative process. Strategic goals change, technology innovation demands new skill sets and levels and people come and go within an organization. Step seven addresses the need to continually evaluate the skills that are required to support the strategic direction of the organization. The heavy lifting has already been done in the previous steps and if done right and with commitment, the organization has established a living IT competency framework.

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.

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