The constant needs to provide improvements

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It is undeniable that nowadays companies should constantly provide considerable improvements within many domains in order to make sure that they are continuously keep up and adapt themselves to changing environment. Given the fact that the current market share are becoming increasingly competitive and in order to overcome the difficult challenges stemmed from changing environment, organizations put more emphasis on development of competencies and setting on competency management strategically.

Strategic Competence is a very broad discipline that includes a combination of required knowledge, skills and abilities that an employee must have in order to expose an outstanding performance in his/her job [9]. It is essential to possess the required strategic competencies that are the key aspects for that specific position. Employee must possess these strategic competencies which will ensure their performance to be taken much further so as to perform an effective action that will keep company's growing.

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It is clear that for different positions in a work environment, employees need various competencies for different endeavors. In this manner, it is important for the companies to manage their employee's competencies in order to ensure that they have the required strategic competencies that will enable them to perform their specific endeavors and maintain the development of these strategic competencies as well as making best use of them. Therefore, companies must give enough importance to strategic competence management (SCM) subject in order to meet organizations' objective [1].

The proposed thesis has been conducted in GC (Global Company) that is one of the leading transportation companies in the world with over 33000 employees in 35 countries. GC consists of some several divisions that have different occupational areas to be taken care of and these divisions are spread in the various countries where GC has been operating in. Currently, company carries out a large scale of Engineering Performance Improvement Initiative (EPII) that aims to provide robust workstream and increase engineering performance in regards to various domains. One of the domains of EPII is called as Strategic Competencies. The proposed thesis attempts to improve the strategic competencies of Engineering Department of one certain division of GC by means of applying a gap analysis.

PRESENT SITUATION

GC is a leader company in transportation area with tens of thousands of employees and vehicles in operation around more than 35 countries. Considering the continuous corporate development and growth of company, GC always aims to be the first choice for customers and best performer in the related industry. In order to fulfill the company missions, one strategy set among the others can be defined as 'Creating profitable growth by investing in company employees and products'. With defined strategy GC pays enough attention for the employees' growth. In that sense a big project has been initiated across the all divisions of GC that is called EPII and it aims to increase the performance of engineering department in various domains. As also mentioned before, one branch of this initiative is allocated for the competence management (CM) of engineering employees for one specific division of the company that works collaboratively with various countries.

The Project of Strategic Competence Management (SCM) in GC

The term 'Competence Management (CM)' may be interpreted as a simple and easy to follow set of processes when it is thought at first. However, when the word 'Strategic' introduced in the phrase, it brings more insights into the definition. It is undeniable that no one can possess all the skills, knowledge and capabilities. It is hard for an engineer to have the broad range of aptitudes; in the same sense, CM processes of a company should not aim to provide the employees possessing broad extensive of competencies. Moreover, competencies are not constant and their need may not be as crucial as it is at present. In this sense, it is essential to clarify various engineering roles that exist in the GC's specific division who are accountable for diverse set of functions, services, workstreams etc. Once different roles are identified, their various strategic competencies that will add value to their way of working thus to GC growth should be discussed. Therefore, the project of SCM of GC aims to emphasize on strategic competencies of various types of engineers. That is to say, discovering the existing set of competencies that various engineering roles currently possess as well as their evaluation; and defining their strategic need in the future and required improvements that need to be done ensuring that the engineers have the best strategic competencies adequately so as to perform their tasks smoothly that will retain GC's growing. The detailed explanation of the SCM project steps will be explored in processes of SCM.

GOAL

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The main goal of the project of SCM is to propose the set of actions to be implemented in order to increase the current competencies of engineering department of one division of GC which will have a positive impact on engineering performance, thus implicitly will add value to organization growth by means of performed improvements.

Even though this project was a need for GC to be performed, from the student point of view it was interesting to perform this project as a master thesis including a main goal that is to discover the implementation of techniques, tools and approaches learned straight from master program to the real business cases.

SCOPE

As a sub-part of EPII project, the focus of SCM is the improvement of competencies of engineering department of a certain division of GC. It includes the investigation of current competencies of various engineering roles as well as their assessment today. Next to define the required competencies level and comparison with current situation. All the previous steps aim to offer an insight into the final step which is the actions of improvement of competencies.

The other domains of improvement initiative were excluded from the project scope so they can be labeled as 'out of scope' as they require completely another time/effort/ cost dedication.

It is thought that one way to frame the scope might be done by questioning. So the main question for this thesis project can be stated as follows:

"How can the competency state of Engineering Department of one certain division of GC be improved?"

Next the question is broken down into sub-question which are thought as helpful to clear what to focus on right things;

What is the workload and volume of the project (in terms of number of employees to be considered, the scope of workload and competence state etc.)?

Who are the responsible for this project?

What are the intended inputs and expected outcomes of the project?

Which methods and tools should be utilized to carry out the project (Interviews, mapping, gap analysis etc)?

What should the steps of project be?

The reader must be able to find answers to above questions at the end of the thesis report.

LIMITATIONS

From the beginning until the project finalization, pre-defined project of SCM policy has been tried to be followed in any sense as much as possible. Therefore it can be said that this was a sort of limitation as it restricted the study from re-inventing or creating something new. However, more tools and approaches have been implemented throughout the thesis study that can be viewed in further chapters.

It is important to mention that rather than the content, the volume of the project was quite high. In engineering department for one certain division in GC for which the project has been carried out, there were 6 departments where the SCM project has been focused on with more than 250 engineers whose competencies were assessed. Mainly the project milestones and findings had to be reached by holding many interviews and meetings with department managers and line managers as well as the experts in engineering department. In that manner, it can be said that the project continuation was strongly depended on employees' availability as they need to spare their time for project development. Sometimes it was hard to catch managers' availability to schedule a meeting or interview as they mostly have a tight schedule, so it is also considered as a limitation.

Finally, within given time for thesis work (10 weeks) was only sufficient to perform the steps of required gap analysis that helped to extract the concrete actions for improvement of competencies of engineering department. Therefore it is possible to say that the given time was not sufficient to transfer the findings into the implementation.

MAIN STAKEHOLDERS

The main stakeholders of project of SCM are as follows;

In terms of GC ;

The core project team in Sweden that is set before the project initiation.

Project owners and sponsors who are situated in Germany.

Site Manager, Director of Engineering, Line Managers, Experts whom were interviewed and held meetings with.

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Engineers of the dealt division of GC whose competencies will be developed by proposed thesis work.

In terms of KTH;

The examiner and supervisor of the thesis study who has supported with advices and helped on structuring the finalized report.

The future students and researches of KTH for whom this thesis study will be useful for.

METHODOLOGY

FIRST LEVEL STUDY

Aim of Study and Available Resources

The study is aimed to propose the set of concrete actions to be implemented in order to increase the current competencies of engineering department of GC to reach the required/desired state of competencies in future. This will have a positive impact on engineering performance, thus implicitly will add value to organization growth by means of performed improvements.

The aim is achieved by performing a gap analysis of competencies in which the current competencies are mapped, assessed and evaluated in terms of various engineering roles; and future competencies are investigated, defined and assessed with required level. Next, the current and future competencies are compared and specific gaps are found for specific competencies of relevant engineering roles. The final study is taken place by proposing some concrete actions with assigned due times and responsible people.

The available resources for this study can be listed as follows:

Project team, managers and all employees involved in project of SCM processes

The project of SCM relevant documentation

Database system of GC that enabled the thesis student to reach any required data

Target Group of Study to Be Carried Out For

From the GC point of view;

The target group of this study is particularly the responsible of project of SCM (The core project team, project owners and sponsors). The project plays an improvement process role intended for any level managers and engineers of that certain department of GC whose competencies are intended to be enhanced. The Proposed study outcome will be served as an input to be used for further step that is the implementation plan of project of SCM.

From Academic Point of view;

The proposed thesis study is intended to shed some lights on researches and students who would like to know more about SCM and what kind of studies can be performed to improve the current SCM processes.

Limitations

Please refer to 1.5.Limitations

Mental Model to Be Used

Participating Observation:

The mental model of this study can be considered as participating observation model since the aim is to map a certain area that is strategic competencies in this study case [14]. It has started with a general data gathering and continued with analysis of current competency situation of company and then defining a desired position that has been done during the project development. The models, tools, and techniques used were of great importance to reach the verifiable and concrete results. In order to verify validate results it was crucial to establish the data gathering period very carefully, and with enough detail, because it is known that the important part of the result of this study will be yielded by the methods of finding useful information, its mapping and its usage for further steps.

Existing Knowledge within the Area

Currently there are available articles and researches that have been focused on competence and competence development method; however within the scope of this thesis, there are limited resources emphasize on the improvement of CM processes. Ever at that, some articles published were helpful during thesis report development.

From company wise, similar project of SCM has been carried out in some different divisions in some other countries previously which were useful to keep an eye on them to avoid some possible mistakes or unwished circumstances being happened.

SECOND LEVEL STUDY

Scope of the Investigation

Please refer to 1.4 Scope

Questions to Be Answered

Below are the precise questions to be answered comprehensively in order to reach the expected outcome of this thesis. Since answer of one question will be used as an input for the next questions, it is essential to pay enough importance to fulfill all the requirements for each question.

What are the drivers and influences that has an impact on competencies of engineers implicitly and explicitly?

Which are the key engineering roles that should be considered within project of SCM?

How are the engineering roles' current competencies assessed today?

What should future competencies be?

How to find out the gaps of competencies in present and future?

How to close the existing gaps of competencies?

Type of Study

If the intended objectives of this thesis will be reached, this report will cover all types of studies that are proposed in the guideline [14]. In that manner, type of study first will be initiated by a deductive study based on assessing the validity of present competencies that the employees are holding. Then it can be followed with inductive study in the sense of covering the studies to explore new competencies that are strategic for company in order to have a higher performance of employees. Finally, a descriptive type of study way can be followed to investigate some possible ways to close the differences between the outcome of deductive and inductive studies.

THIRD LEVEL STUDY

Kind of Study to Be Performed

Kind of study can be classified as case study, since this is an actual business case need to be solved. So, one can say that the kind of this study as a case study by a combination of participating observation. The existence competencies, their mapping, as well as future requirements will be analyzed, the gap that is need to be eliminated will be extracted and possible solutions will be proposed to close these gaps.

FOURTH LEVEL STUDY

Tools to Be Used

Below are the tools that have been used throughout the project cycle;

Interviews: Several interviews have been carried out face to face with a preparation of set of questions to be answered. In order to reach verifiable and useful data, questions of interviews were divided into sub categories and the time frame was distinguished into these sub categories. Each interview took approximately 1 hour and they are recorded to be documented thoroughly later on. Questions can be found in Appendix A.

General Observation and Active Participation: During the thesis study general observation was the main tool used that provided the continuation of work.

Gap Analysis: The main tool used for the project was the gap analysis. The actual competencies were defined for each key engineering role and their assessments were done, and the future competencies were identified (if there are some competencies does not exist currently, they are also introduced in the analysis) and their assessment are done by the managers.