Monday 15 July 2013

Designing A Competency-Based Talent Management Framework: Selecting A Software System

Part 7 of 7 of the CompetencyCoreTM Guide to Designing a Competency-based Talent Management Framework

By Ian Wayne, M.Sc and Suzanne Simpson, PhD, C. Psych.

This is the sixth in a seven part series that looks at key decisions in designing and implementing a competency-based talent management (CbTM) framework:
  1. Some Basic Definitions
  2. Defining the Goals and Evaluating the Impact of your Initiative
  3. Competency Structure and Types
  4. Importance of Defining your Competency Architecture
  5. Developing Job Competency Profiles
  6. Project and Change Management
  7. Key Decisions in Selecting a Software System

Throughout this series, we have been discussing key decisions in designing and implementing a competency-based talent management framework.  In particular, we have addressed the importance of defining the goals of the system and establishing a competency architecture that fits with the critical success criteria for your framework.

We then discussed some of the typical approaches and methods for defining the Job Family Competency Profiles, as well as governance, project and change management considerations that need to be taken into account when designing and developing your framework.

But for all of this to be successful, it is important to have a software system that supports the design, development, delivery and ongoing maintenance of your Competency Framework.

Why a competency management software system is important

Designing, developing, implementing and maintaining a competency framework is difficult to do in a paper-based format.  It can quickly become unwieldy and out of control if not managed through a competency management software system.

As a case in point, in one national organization in Canada it was decided that they would maintain and publish their competency library and job competency profiles through MS Word documents.  The organization was large and complex and their employees were located in almost every village, town, and city across the country.  The job family competency profiles consisted of the general competencies needed for success as well as highly technical and detailed competencies.  In addition, while the organization had a base library of competencies, it needed to develop and publish technical competencies unique to their organization.

All competencies were defined on a five-level proficiency scale with multiple behavioral indicators for each level of each competency scale.  Naturally, as the competencies and job competency profiles were developed, changes were identified.  Eventually, it became almost impossible for the organization to reflect later changes in the competencies in all the job competency profiles that had already been developed.  The organization eventually gave up trying to make changes to the competencies.  If this organization had had a competency management software system like CompetencyCore, this situation could have easily been avoided.

 What to look for in a system

  •  A system with existing well-researched competency content
This includes a library of the general competencies as well as technical / professional competencies that are suited to your organization.  These days, it is not necessary or even advisable to develop your competencies from scratch.  It can take years to develop high-quality competencies.

Reputable vendors will have lists of competencies that are generally found in many different types of jobs as well as technical / professional competencies that are typical to functions or areas within the organization (e.g., IT; HR; Finance; etc.).  And, it is also possible to acquire libraries that are specific to industry sectors (e.g., Oil & Gas, Police and Security, Banking, etc.).

Vendors often also have standard job competency profiles available that reflect the job duties / tasks typically required in jobs within specific functional areas as well as industry sectors.  These can then become the starting point for use within your organization, editing and adjusting them to fit the unique requirements of your organization.
  • Software that supports the standardized implementation of competencies
If you have a software system that supports the adoption, editing and publishing of the competencies and job competency profiles, it becomes easier to ensure that HR professionals, managers and employees are accessing a uniform and approved set of competencies and job competency profiles across the organization.  This becomes increasingly important as organizations go national or global.
  • A system configurable to your competency structure / architecture
The software housing your competencies and job competency profiles should be configurable to your architecture.  The structure of the competencies can vary – for example, they can be defined in scales that reflect the level of proficiency needed across jobs within the organization, or include both positive and negative behavioural indicators.  In our library, the competencies are typically formatted on a four to five level proficiency scale.

The system should also support the grouping of the competencies according to your architecture (e.g., Core, Job Family General and Technical / Professional, etc.) as well as the Job Families within your organization.

The bottom line is that the software should be easily adjusted to meet your unique organizational needs and competency structures.
  • A system that supports integration and ongoing changes and updates
As noted in the case example above, it is very important, especially in large complex nationally or globally distributed organizations, to have system that can be accessed by users in all locations and can be updated and published simultaneously throughout the organization.

These are only a few of the elements that you should look for in a competency management software system.  Follow this link  for more information on the CompetencyCore solution.

Want to learn more? Competency-based Talent Management, or CbTM, is the best practice for defining job requirements and building effective HR programs to develop skilled, engaged and productive workforces. Download this Best Practice Guide to learn how competencies can increase workforce effectiveness and improve business practices.

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