Skills frameworks for the information age

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The Skills Frameworks for the Information Age (SFIA) is frameworks that provide the mostly acceptable description related to IT or the skills in the world [1]. It is an effective, practical tools produced by industry for the industry. SFIA framework is fully owned by SFIA organizations and it is an open source framework which is free of charge to apply the skills management skills within an organization. SFIA usually used in an organisation to improve their stuffs management skills and process in order to solve their organisation's critical problem that impacting their people. SFIA can support people management processes such as role design, training and development career development, recruitment and many more. Typical business problem helped by using SFIA are IT out-sourcing, mergers and acquisitions, transformations of IT organisations and talent management in IT organisations.

SFIA provides a clear model that describes the IT professional skills. It is built in two-dimensional matrix. One axis presents the complete set of SFIA skills. All the skills are defined in a proper way that let user easier to understand and apply to workplace: the nature of the description mean that they can use the skills effectively to build an organisation's internal competency framework. The SFIA skills categories are as below:

  •  Strategy & Planning
  •  Solution Development & Implementation
  •  Business Change
  •  Service Provision
  •  Procurement and Management Support
  •  Ancillary Skills

All the grouped skills are further broke down into subcategories where the 86 sub skills with each skill has an definition and a more detailed descriptor for the 7 levels that skill is recognised. The skills categories provide skill definitions for the people or organisation who involved in delivering and exploiting IT systems. The categories provide every skill's definition to people and organisations who involve in delivering and exploiting IT systems. The skills are usually cover mainstream IT, user IT and also the interface of IT and business.

Another axis defines the different level of responsibility and accountability that practically used by the people in the organisation. SFIA describe 7 levels of responsibility, with each level, from a new entrant worker to director level is defined in term of autonomy, influence, complexity and business skills. The 7 levels of SFIA are as below:

  •  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, Mobilise

The matrix is showing the full set of skills that can be use by IT professional, with each skill at every level has a clear description provided of the level of competence required. The matrix is not fully populated as most of the roles do not required human resource in the level of responsibility.

Every professional skill in the organisation is recognised at certain levels, and the matrix is allowing different professional skills process to refer to the same definition. Beside that, SFIA also provide knowledge to the organisation to fix the job requirements and to describe what is the individual are capable for the job or project.

In business roles, SFIA can be use to identify the different professional roles that needed by the organisation to make the business successful. SFIA can apply at whether it is an IT product or service provider, or the users as well. The next step is to define the employee's role in the role profile that contains the required skills along with other information along with HR standards. Usually every role profile will consist of more than one level as employee would have more than one skill. The role profile is used to assign people to projects, other than that, it is also used for employee's development and assessment. SFIA also provide flexibility as each role profile would specify different skills from different levels. For example, the software engineer which have programming skills at level 5, but also have the software development process improvement skills at level 6.

Norwich Union Life, the world's fifth largest and UK largest insurance group, wanted to began the business transformation to bring the business to new level of excellence for customer satisfaction and profitability field with the partnership with IBM Human Capital management. NUL's operating environment is large & complicated, they have about 1700 human resources in IT professional, contractors, and global sourcing resources support field that supporting the 10,000 users all over the world that delivering 10 main services and products to 5.5 million customers.

To achieve the business goal, necessary changes needed to apply to the environment where little emphasis of skills and no career framework are not going to support the high performance culture where it is needed to achieve the goal. The new model that needed to apply should be designed to fulfil the requirement to deliver service, and building the skill management plays a full part that ensuring skills are always available. The model is the key element to help them to achieve their vision towards people, environment and professional team, for example motivated, empowering, mature, progressive etc. To run the SFIA models, a programme with several work streams should be introduce, for example, Performance Management and Reward, Ways of Working, Development Framework, Leadership and many more that are important to build a professional and dynamic team that providing quality service to 10,000 users.

The Career & Skills programme is a crucial part for the Development Framework; it is the definition of all the professional roles in the organisation and it will be documented in role profile. The role purpose, SFIA skills, core behavioural competencies and technical knowledge are fixed by InfoBasis Enterprise Skill Manager (ESM), the Skills Management tool chosen by NUL. The ESM help the IT professionals in evaluate themselves to the predefined targets, and their assessments are conservative by the community in an organisation, and got confirm by interview one by one with Professional Development Managers. Their development is updated according to their needs and it would uplift the opportunity for career and professional development.

NUL's overall priorities can be built into the process with the help of the ESM tool's extensive operational reporting of skills needs and developments. It is used to collect the report and tracks the progression towards the goal, or it could also identify any possible strength to exploit. Therefore the reporting is somehow work to provide management the information to keep track and control of the development processes. This is helping the management to build a flexible resource that could respond to the current needed by the business.

As the conclusion, during NUL's business transforming, their stuffs no longer restricted to local opportunity, but having their very own career path planned for their future. Beside that, SFIA also helped to keep management and staff motivated and engaged throughout the transformation process. Other than that, it has 50% increase of staff satisfaction and the measurable performance improvement, which achieved CMMI Level 3 since the transformation programme. Throughout the transforming period, they had many achievements in different fields, for example Communication, Performance management, Talent management and Career Progression etc.