Skill management is new to many companies. They may have a vestigial list of skills in their talent management or learning management system. More likely they are managing skills in spreadsheets or as a collection of résumés – irregularly and inconsistently updated. A few, mostly large companies, will have various competency models, often recorded on spreadsheets, and sometimes implemented as a performance management system. Many such companies are now planning to move to a proactive approach to skill management.

There are many reasons businesses are moving to active and engaged skill management. The big three are

Pressure to win new and higher-value-added business
The need to reskill and upskill existing staff
Competition for talent

Winning at any of these requires a sophisticated skill and expertise management system. These systems give visibility in to the skills inside an organization, how they are being applied to actual work, and where there are potential and untapped skills. The business payoff can be enormous.

  • More effective use of the current workforce
  • Winning more and higher value-added work
  • Sharper differentiation (which leads to higher profitability

But we all know that just adopting a piece of technology is not enough to solve a business problem. Successful introductions include commitments across the organization. These commitments generally include as element of change management. Nothing happens by itself and change does not occur overnight.

What are the critical success factors when adapting a skill or expertise management system?

One has to avoid the ‘cold start’ problem. The cold start problem is one that has plagued enterprise social systems like Jive and even Facebook at Work. These platforms appear empty and irrelevant without content.

At TeamFit we handle this by preseeding the system with as many projects and skills as possible. There are several ways to do this. Some of our clients have provided us with spreadsheets that we load into the system. These spreadsheets include people, their skills and the projects they have worked on. Just seeing all of this information together and connected can have an immediate impact and give insights.

We also harvest skills from other systems. LinkedIn is an obvious choice. Most people have skills on LinkedIn. These may not be well validated, but they are one place to start.

Most importantly, we use our Skill Inference AI to read in résumés, project records, publications, patents, etc. This is the most powerful approach of all as it uncovers the many skills that people have but are not used to describing.

Overcoming the cold start is one thing, but it is also important to keep the system updated and alive. The best way to do this is to connect TeamFit to other systems. The most important of these are not learning, HRIS or talent management, all of which struggle to stay updated. Systems of record for actual work are far more important. These can include the CRM, project management system, and any other system of record used in work. There is often good information about projects – past, present, future – in the CRM. Project management systems such as Asana, Basecamp, Wrike and even Trello carry task information that TeamFit can map into skill data. The systems used to track people’s availability and work hours can also provide useful insights for skill management and keep the skill data current and relevant.

To really weave skill management into your culture, and make skill development and application central to work, you will need organizational processes that motivate people to engage. We have designed these into TeamFit in a number of ways. One of the most important of these is the ability to suggest skills to other people. Most of us do not really know what our own skills are. Skill Inference takes us part of the way, but human interactions still matters. The people we work with often have better insight into our skills than we do ourself. Test this. Ask your co-workers to write down your top five skills and send them to you. I think you will be surprised by their insights. The TeamFit interface has built this in.

To succeed with skill management and leverage the business advantages you need to do three things:

Seed your skill management system with people, projects and skills
Connect your skill management system to the system of record for work
Foster a culture based on building, sharing and applying skills

TeamFit is design to support each of these and we look forward to working with you to help you build success.