by Peter B. Nichol

Redefine the future of your organization with a competency framework

Feb 13, 2018
Digital TransformationIT Leadership

Long before RACIs add value to organizational roles, skills and behaviors need to reflect the desired organizational state. There’s a framework for that.

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Organizational leaders charged with organizational role design and workforce planning as well as recruitment and performance management can benefit from re-skilling and up-skilling talent management for IT organizations.

Three of the primary advantages to utilizing a framework for IT skills management are 1) defining organizational roles with standard skills, 2) mapping existing roles to standard organizational IT roles, and 3) measuring skills gaps.

Reference architecture can improve how business relationship managers deliver business capabilities. Process models assist in the visualization of interaction inputs and outputs. RACI (which is an acronym for responsible, accountable, consulted, informed) can add clarity around ownership of activities. These tools add value under specific constraints and contexts. They’re tactical. They don’t solve strategic problems.

Getting strategic requires that we validate or build in common languages to define skills, abilities, and expertise. Standardization of skills improves consistency. By removing ambiguous or confusing language (and jargon), we’re left with the essence of the role.

One of the most widely used skills frameworks is the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA), pronounced “Sofia.” This framework describes 97 skills and 344 tasks—aligned to skill level—required by professionals in roles involving information and communications technology.

Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA)

The Skills Framework for the Information Age provides a common reference model to define skills and responsibilities—not roles. SFIA 6 was released in July of 2015 and defines a framework to expand professional IT skills with competency levels and generic levels of responsibility. SFIA 6 defines seven levels of responsibility:

  • Level 1: Follow
  • Level 2: Assist
  • Level 3: Apply
  • Level 4: Enable
  • Level 5: Ensure, advise
  • Level 6: Initiate, influence
  • Level 7: Set strategy, inspire, mobilize

The goal of the levels of responsibility is, first, to reflect experience and competency with the designated level, and, second, provide generic levels of responsibility for each level:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Influence
  3. Complexity
  4. Business skills

The areas of responsibility are supported by six categories containing subcategories and skills:

  1. Strategy and architecture: information strategy, advice and guidance, business strategy and planning, and technical strategy and planning
  2. Change and transformation: business change implementation and business change management
  3. Development and implementation: systems development, user experience, and installation and integration
  4. Delivery and operation: service design, service transition, and service operations
  5. Skills and quality: skill management, people management, and quality and conformance
  6. Relationships and engagement: stakeholder management, and sales and marketing

You know your business model is changing. Read any source on CIO strategy, and you’ll find that the skills your organization needs today will be different tomorrow. You know this. What action have you taken this year to redefine how your team, department, and organization will be impacted? Use this step-by-step approach for organizational competency analysis:

  1. Identity the job category.
  2. Find the job subcategory.
  3. Reference the skills in the subcategory.
  4. Develop a competency profile.
  5. Compare staff to the target competency profile.
  6. Determine staff skills gaps.

The archetype of the SFIA framework has several core elements. These elements, together, form the foundation of the SFIA framework as well as SFIAplus (an extended version of the framework):

  • Category, subcategory: skill groupings for ease of reference
  • Skill: recognizable area of IT competence
  • Skill resource: details topics related to the skill
  • Code: reference for rapid skill identification
  • Level: the degree of responsibility that an IT practitioner exercises
  • Task: a skill aligned to a specific level
  • Task components: components defining the task

Dare to think beyond today

Leaders, innovators, and organizational pioneers won’t be wearing t-shirts with the logo, “Change means action.” When we envision change agents, we often imagine strong A players who express determination and force in everything they communicate. Change leaders can also lead quietly. Orchestrating from the rear of the room, they coordinate decision points almost like the conductor of a symphony.

These agents could be leading an army of employees or inspiring a single mind to act. Who in your office is experimenting with your organization’s DNA? That person might be in the office next-door.

There’s one certainty as technology transforms our values, beliefs, and behaviors: Change agents are using competency frameworks to slowly redefine the future of work.