What is the point of having Self-assessed SFIA Skills validated? Is it worth the time, effort and cost having self-assessed SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) skills profiles validated? A perfectly reasonable question, and one our clients often ask.
Let’s take a step back and look at why the validation of SFIA skills is offered in the first place. Putting it simply, it is to provide a more consistent and accurate mapping of an individual to the SFIA skills framework. All organisations aspire to have the most accurate data on which to base decisions. Having the ability to validate SFIA skills provides organisations with the opportunity to feel confident they are making informed decisions.
The following are the top 5 underlying reasons behind the initial question of whether to validate or not:
- Tangible benefits
- The value proposition
- How will the will work force react?
- What about the logistics, especially when there are hundreds or thousands of individuals?
- Can we do it ourselves?
Tangible benefits – The 2 most obvious benefits are:
- Accuracy and consistency – The creation of more consistent and accurate SFIA skill profiles.
- Confident decision making – The ability to make decisions and plan based on more objective and consistent data. Through our Analytics this data can be presented visually and then becomes information.
However, there are several more subtle benefits:
- Knowledge transfer – through the discussions there is often a knowledge transfer to help the work force have a greater understanding of the SFIA framework.
- Career development discussions – When the discussion is conducted by internal resources (often managers and leaders with the necessary level of SFIA knowledge) then there is opportunity to start career development talks.
- Cultural awareness – We often find that during an awareness campaign there is some ability to get a ‘reading’ of culture and morale based on the questions raised and comments made.
- Workforce trending – With the ability to compare and contrast validated profiles against the self-assessed profiles, it can highlight trends that can indicate a work force has latent skill sets or even suggest that greater SFIA education is required before it is used for more structured career development planning.
The value proposition – During the design of SkillsTX, we put a lot of thought into this and worked closely with our VARs to get the balance correct:
- Efficiency – This was a starting point, which has 2 main factors:
- The process itself
- The underpinning automation.
However, efficiency is largely pointless unless the result is consistent and accurate. Therefore, a good approach is to start with an individual’s self-assessment and focus a validation discussion around this. Using accredited SFIA consultants or management with a high level of SFIA familiarity is critical to ensure the discussion is consistent and the mapping accurate. A broad and detailed awareness campaign is also required prior to discussions to set expectations and prepare everyone for the process. For larger numbers a booking system will also be required. Automation is then able to underpin the validation process, we’ve built features that allow a validation workbook to be generated for each person, used in an ‘offline’ situation either in hard copy or on a PC or tablet to capture the result of the discussion. These workbooks are then uploaded in batches and processed to generate a completely separate validated skills profile for each person.
A very important aspect of our value proposition is that a validated profile should NOT replace a self-assessment but instead sit alongside. A self-assessment can often include a broader range of skills from earlier in a career. Automation is further enhanced with the ability to set automated generation of validated reports and sent to each individual as a record of their validated skills.
Workforce reaction – As touched upon above, work force reaction can be a good gauge of current culture and morale and is an excellent insight into how future restructures or transitions should be approached. One thing is paramount, good awareness and organisation change management is required before self-assessment and especially before a SFIA skills validation exercise. Generally speaking, validations are a very positive experience for everyone involved but forethought and preparation can make a good experience a great experience.
In addition, providing the workforce with the ability to manage their own skills profiles and map their profiles to job and role profiles using the SkillsTX Planner, we believe negates the sometimes more fearful reactions to being validated as well as the assessment concept overall.
Logistics – It’s possible you may have hundreds or even thousands of ICT professionals with the potential to have validated profiles. How do you set about handling the logistics? There are some common-sense approaches that simplify the process, here are a few ideas:
- Break into manageable ‘chunks’. You can use locations, functional areas, language, divisions etc.
- Use a booking system, either using internal diary systems or offered by your SFIA partner
- Employ a train the trainer/assessor approach. Use external SFIA accredited consultants (this is pre-requisite if a 3rd party is using SFIA in a commercial environment) to perform the first wave of validation discussions with involvement from internal resources.
- Focus on areas where suggested validation candidates are highlighted by our system. SkillsTx has both reports and Analytics that highlight outliers. Be aware there are no right or wrong self-assessed SFIA profiles but using algorithms we can identify profiles that look a little unusual. Using these outliers as a starting point can help identify trends in how areas of the work force have interpreted SFIA and can be a basis for selecting the next area for validation.
- Start with a 360 assessment of SFIA Generic Levels of Responsibly. Uniquely to SkillsTx we offer a feature allowing for managers and colleagues to nominate their view of an individual’s levels of responsibility. Variance in the results is a VERY powerful way to identify candidates for validation. In most cases variance is traced to misunderstanding in the application of SFIA.
Doing it yourself – For very large organisations who have decided to validate the entire workforce the only really practical option is using internal resources, but as already mentioned to achieve the goal of consistency and accuracy there must be an appropriate level of SFIA knowledge. We recommend a ‘train the assessor’ approach that can be cascaded across the work force. However, it should also be noted that the SkillsTx planner allows for a person to ‘manage’ their own self-assessed profile. So even if not everyone has a validated profile it is possible to allow self-assessed profiles to be continually fine-tuned as SFIA knowledge permeates through the workforce.
In summary, we believe we have built approaches and features that allow the widest possible audience to have validated SFIA skills profiles. But using the SkillsTx Planner can also mitigate the need for complete validation of the workforce. Using consistent and accurate data is really non-negotiable if important decisions will be made to match your digital work force with the needs of the business.
If you want to know more about validation click here
Paul Collins and Graham Kennedy
Paul is CEO and Co-founder SkillsTx and a SFIA accredited consultant
Graham is COO and Co-founder SkillsTx