Bringing SFIA to Life

Andy Andrews

(SFIA: Skills Framework for the Information Age)

A number of years ago, I was working with an IT function within an organisation that had spent six months and a hefty budget on adapting SFIA to suit the organisation’s needs (more on the advisability and approach for customising SFIA in a future blog post). They sent me a hard copy of their handiwork – a sizeable volume of paper. Using this document (or should I say book?), each employee was required to carry out a self-assessment of the SFIA skills associated with their job. I can only imagine how long it took each of the 1400 employees involved to complete this exercise!

What was the result? The 1400 responses were placed on a shelf never to be used – there was no way to make practical use of the results directly from paper. The initiative and their investment to that point spluttered and died. One moral of the story is this: a successful SFIA deployment has to deliver tangible operational and strategic benefits and particularly for large teams this requires supporting technology.

For example, imagine that you were looking to find a person from the 1400 employees with a unique set of 4 or 5 SFIA skills with a specified level of proficiency, someone to work on a project; to fill a vacancy; to succeed someone else – real IT business requirements. How many hours would it take to sift through the paper responses from the 1400 employees? On the other hand well designed software can list employees with a matching SFIA skills profile within seconds.

Software systems can also provide views on the organisation’s SFIA skill gaps and capability. Try doing that with a paper based assessment!

Of course another issue with paper based assessments is that as soon as they have been completed, they are potentially out of date, whereas online versions are far easier to maintain.

I sometimes ask people what they use to manage their skills and competencies; they often tell me Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or even a Microsoft Access database here or there. None of these applications are truly fit for the task, so it’s not only important to use technology, but to use the right technology to bring SFIA to life.

In the following blog posts, we will consider how using SFIA with technology can help with applications such as Learning and Development, Career Development and Recruitment.

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