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Dear All,
I need the guidance of all . I need to make the skill inventory of the employees in my organisation. It would be very appreciable if you could send me teh details of the concept and also the format of teh same as soon as possible.
Thanks & regards

From India, Mumbai
Consulting, Research, Hrm & Training
Hr Director


Hi Rachna,
This is a relatvely new concept which is somewhat different from Competency mapping. Here we try to pool the different skills already existing in the organisation whereas in competency mapping we get the gaps. It is quite scientific and new.
please suggest.

From India, Mumbai

Hi Guys,

A neat topic. We could do with a lot of inputs from our other members. Meanwhile to get started with, I am posting this article which can provide a basic introduction to understanding "Skills Inventory".

This is more in the context of IT Sector. However one can gather enough ideas to work with.

Building a Skills inventory

An inventory of skills helps in identifying gaps in competencies, and initiating remedial action, says Sudipta Dev.

Managing employee skills and competencies lays the foundation of any organisation, particularly so in the IT industry where technical skills form the core of the business. A skills inventory is essentially a checklist or database of organisational capabilities, that can help a company determine whether it can deliver a particular product on time or service the client efficiently. The difference between the existing and expected conditions determine the skills gap. It is the responsibility of line managers and the HR department to analyse the skills gap and provide the necessary training to bridge it. Alternately, they can also hire people with the requisite skill sets to build a skills inventory. It is the skills and competencies developed by the organisation that determines how it does its business and whether it will succeed.

In a globally competitive business environment, it is necessary for an organisation to know its competitive strength. By creating its own unique inventory of human capabilities, an organisation is better equipped to compete. Madan Padaki, Co-founder & Director, MeritTrac Services, agrees that it is critical for an organisation to understand its competitive strengths in terms of its people skill sets, benchmark it against that best in the industry and work towards bridging these gaps. “The first step in this process is to measure the “as-is” status. This is where skills inventory and measuring the existing skill sets of employees come into the picture. Once this is mapped, companies can then look at the ideal profile of employees that it must have to remain competitive and work towards building this.”

The skills gap analysis

Most IT organisations now have a system in place for a skills gap analysis. The fact of the matter is that when an organisation is aware of its strengths and weaknesses, and requirements, it can make the right decisions which will enable a greater return on its human capital investments. While most organisations have their own approach to the issue, the basic idea remains the same. Noida-based FCS Software Solutions has an employee skills pool in Java, .NET, Oracle, MS SQL Server, open source expertise built around Linux, Apache, and MySQL.

The company analyses the gap (between the expected and actual knowledge of employees) by conducting regular assessments and appraisals of each level of employees. “This involves business unit managers or project managers conducting an assessment test or reviews of each employee’s level of knowledge, skills and abilities relative to the level required for successful performance in the position,” says Renu Singh, Senior Executive, HR, FCS Software Solutions. She informs that the skills gap is bridged by organising role-based training programme, skill-based tests and classroom training programme. Post-training assessment is done to help assess employee skills before and after the training.

The gaming industry comprises a range of professionals including game designers, programmers, graphic artists, testers, et al. Paradox Studios which specialises in game development on a number of platforms is constantly expanding its portfolio. “With prior development experience on several platforms like the PC, wireless, Web, iTV and PDA, we know that finding specialised talent for a new platform’s requirements is difficult. While we are always on the look out for fresh talent, we also provide opportunities for our existing employees with complementary or overlapping skills to further their development,” says Salil Bhargava Chief Marketing Officer, Paradox Studios.

Bhargava explains that if a game has to be developed on a new platform and if the programming required on this platform is similar to C or C script, then employees experienced in C or having a background in C are allotted to work on the project. “Pilot projects are executed to get the employees familiarised with the platform, following which working projects may be undertaken. This can also be applied to graphic artists. When Paradox started undertaking 3D mobile game development, our past 3D experience on the PC platform helped us immensely. 2D artists proficient in working on mobile platforms and familiar with the limitations and constraints on such platforms worked in tandem with our PC art team experienced in 3D art. A middle ground was thus established to bridge the gap and achieve optimum results,” adds Bhargava.

Skills tracking

Once an organisation has documented its skills, it can build or buy a system designed to track them—a necessity in today’s increasingly specialised business world. “The skill tracking system helps us get the right talent at the right time and engage existing employees appropriately. Employee-skill inventory also helps in designing customised training and development programmes. Identifying the skills and competencies that drive success make it easier for us to find out the availability of any required skill and the level of expertise in that skill within the organisation at any given point of time. This in turn helps us in servicing our clients better with a faster turnaround time,” asserts Singh.

Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) has a global team of over 800 multi-disciplinary specialists, a unique mix of project managers, software engineers, instructional designers, content developers, visual designers, and animators. It claims to be the only e-learning organisation in the world which is certified for P-CMM Level 5. “The Competency Model is one of the key tools used at TIS to track individual performances in terms of knowledge and skills gained. This is an ideal practice, which takes place once every six months to gauge competency levels across the organisation,” says P Premkumar, HR Head of Tata Interactive Systems.

Skills mapping

While it is true that skills mapping improves an individual’s as well as organisation’s performance, the fact remains that very few organisations have an established process of giving the employees feedback on their skill sets. What could be the first step to self-improvement is often ignored. “An assessment exercise helps to measure the “as-is” status of the employee and provide a structured feedback on the strengths and the weaknesses. Based on this feedback, the employees are provided a learning environment where they can pick up specific topics and improve their understanding of these topics,” points out Padaki.

At TIS, following the end of a month-long detailed induction, an employee is fully aware of all the benefit skills and competency management practices followed. He also has the option of viewing his “Bill of Rights” online, which shows him his competency level, his appraisal rates and who his mentor in the organisation is. All modifications to these are conveyed through training programmes on the same, adds Premkumar.

Motivating employees

Educating employees about the benefits of the system is essential. It is not only the job of the HR department, but also the line managers, to motivate them constantly. “Skills are the only currency that carries a lot of value in today’s knowledge-driven economy. An individual’s value is determined by the breadth and depth of skills that he possesses. Any programme that enhances skills becomes beneficial to the employee as well as the organisation. This is the basic premise in educating employees about working towards enhancing their skills,” states Padaki.

Paradox has adopted a rather unique approach to its employee development—it challenges its employees to a game! Freshers might start by developing a simple game and advance to more complex games, the challenge after this is to get into the big league—international titles. “This is a three-pronged approach involving evaluation, experience and incentive. Going through the process starting from a simple premise and garnering experience down the line serves as a good training ground for understanding and implementing rich gameplay. At the end of it, for the developer, working on an international title turns out to be its own reward. We want people to seize the opportunity and get credit for their ability. By training them through these stages and monitoring quality and potential we prepare them to be the best, in effect raising the company’s standards,” says Bhargava.

For an organisation, building a skills inventory has several advantages—from improving operational efficiency and productivity to competitive advantage in the marketplace. It creates a learning environment and is a great internal branding strategy that is able to retain employees and successfully attract new people.

Skilful or competent?

You may also choose to read the entire article at the below mentioned url. <link updated to site home>

© Copyright 2001: Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Limited (Mumbai, India). All rights reserved throughout the world.



From India, Mumbai

And one more.....

Tracking employee skills for business advantage

Shipra Arora / New Delhi -

When there are those all-important business deals to be closed, project agreements to be met, who has the time to identify and appreciate that Rekha, though not a born leader, could have the makings of a quick learner as compared to her project teammates. Well, not anymore. Though a rather tedious exercise, the activity of tracking down the competencies and skills (existing as well as unexplored), is becoming an integral programme for many IT companies. That Rekha could have been a more valuable and productive asset for the company is just one of the many drivers. Mapping the right skills to the right business requirement (which companies are fast realising is as critical to meeting business objectives as developing skills), leads to the creation and continuous tracking of the ‘skills inventory’.

Maintaining a skill repository may not still be very common in many IT companies, but tapping into the power of skills (for business and competitive advantage) has put the exercise of skills tracking at the forefront of many an organisational agenda. Skills, which may otherwise go unnoticed, can be leveraged and channelised towards the company’s benefits and improving employee productivity. And how can this be done? A little mix of intuition with science is the answer.

The significance of skills tracking

“In the IT Industry you are in the business of your employees’ skills and knowledge. This is the most im-portant selling factor for grabbing a new business as well as for sustaining and growing the existing businesses,” says Palash Aggrawal, manager HR, Infogain India. Competi-tion is further forcing organisations to be 100 percent aware of their employees’ skills and abilities. With companies becoming aware of their employees’ skills, more than ever before the skills tracking exercise has achieved serious proportions, almost at par with other regular internal employee programmes.

While some progressive organisations had started the skills tracking exercise some time back, others are now following suit. “These initiatives are becoming more integral to forward looking IT companies, who have the tremendous need to tap into the employee talent reservoir to provide value add to their business operations and customers. And, in turn, help employees to explore their potentialities,” says Sameer Wadhawan, director–HR, Cadence Design Sys-tems (India).

Most progressive organisations have skill evaluation as a formal programme. An employee’s customised development plans are made reflecting his/her skills and talents. These exercises are conducted in addition to the informal programmes. Most large IT companies maintain a central skills inventory of their employees. Nirupama V G, executive vice president of Team Lease elaborates, “Companies are currently conducting these programmes from time to time as and when required, but the IT industry is looking at this with complete focus. Many companies are even introducing Web-based tracking system, which is more prevalent in the West.” Employee-skill inventory is becoming a major source for designing training and development programmes, as well as becoming an integral part of HRM systems—whether automated or otherwise—in IT companies. For organisations where formal programmes are still a distant reality on account of resource constraints, conduction of informal exercises at least is becoming an acceptable norm.

The need

The need for skills tracking is based on the basic premise that every organisation has unique needs and identifying the skills and competencies that drive success can boost performance and profits. According to Anuj Kumar, head of corporate HR, Keane India, at any given point of time, the organisation should be in a position to find out the availability of any skill and the level of expertise in that skill within the organisation. Without having specifically designed methodologies for tracking, this becomes a challenge in a decently sized organisation.

Skills identification and tracking programmes are of strategic importance in the IT industry where one has to deal with many technical skill sets. Also, in a fast changing environment like the IT industry, it is imperative to have a good idea of the skill level, its distribution employee skills to ensure better resource allocation process. The skill tracking system helps resource coordinators to get the right talent at the right time and engage employees appropriately. “They can leverage and benefit the most from its internal talent pool and plan for skill building activities as well as get on board the external talent pool. They can also identify any shortfalls and improve job satisfaction for team members by putting them into roles that better match their experience and aspirations,” explains Nirupama.

Improving productivity

Apart from driving profitability and operational efficiency, skills tracking is also being carried out by companies for improving employee productivity and workforce development. Career growth, training and development strategies are ba-sed on an employee’s current skill sets and future requirements. Companies are also using it as an employee motivation tool. For employees, this usually creates a high sense of well being.

The scarcity and cost of acquiring employees with skills; need for keeping them engaged; helping them to do what they enjoy doing and hence retaining them and creating an environment of innovation by tapping on employee talent, are some of the factors driving organisations to adopt this practice.

Methodologies for skills tracking

Organisations have evolved different methodologies in accordance with their specific requirements. In certain cases help from external consultants is also solicited. Skill identification and tracking can turn out to be a very exhaustive affair with the process involving competency mapping for the current role as well as the next role chosen by the employee; discussions and approval by the manager; laying out a plan for competency enhancement and tracking the action plan. It additionally involves analysis of current co-mpetencies for the organisation as a whole, detailed discussions on requirement/desired level in the future based on long-term business plans, reality check of the plan and pursuing them vigorously.

Aggrawal believes that the most important pre-requisite is defining the organisation’s current and future skills and competency requirements, which is the baseline for tracking or tapping employee skills. The process generally starts with the interview during recruitment, the joining and any subsequent acquisition or enhancement. Interviews (with managers/ leaders, supervision and job incumbents), tests, focus groups analysis, surveys and questionnaires, performance appraisal systems, observation notes from reporting managers, client feedback and the tracking of the employee’s achi-evements are some of the commonly used tools for identifying existing and potential skills.

The process

Here is the typical workflow for the skill identification and tracking exercise: The ‘Skill Profile Questi-onnaire’ is sent to all employees periodically and the updation is done if it is started afresh. (Once the skill matrix is prepared a format for updation could be sent to all periodically.) The skill matrix could also be collected from the department heads. All collection leads to analysis for consolidating the data received.

The skills with respect to the particular job description are identified and attributes are set. This provides a standardised tracking system. During the interview as well as the appraisal phase, reporting managers evaluate and identify the skills with reference to the preset attributes.

Employees are also encouraged to update areas of proficiency confirming to the set criteria using assessment forms. Once an assessment has been completed, it is forwarded to a manager for review and approval. This process is generally done on a quarterly basis. The manager reviews each assessment, and makes a judgement on each level entered. Levels can be adjusted by the manager prior to approval. Once assessments have been approved, the data is available for searching and reporting.

The resources allocation team then assesses the data and assigns accordingly.

Being an exhaustive affair, having a fully developed online system is certainly helpful. Cadence, for instance, uses assessment tools, which are online survey-based and are followed by interaction between employees and managers. Then depending upon the job and level in the organisation, the employee undertakes the self-assessment or self-assessment with multi-rater feedback thro-ugh an online survey. The employee discusses the feedback with his manager and finalises the development plans. Organisations have also started installing skill set formats on company portal that provide scope for continuous updation.

Tracking potential skills

Instead of just identifying skills gap, companies are now moving towards becoming more proactive in terms of identifying potential strengths of employees as well and then leveraging them. These are generally personality traits or behavioural skills.

Sunder Rajan, general manager—HR and administration, Infinite Computer Solutions, points out that in addition to skill matrix forms, potential skills are also identified as and when an exceptional performance is exhibited by an employee. It is tracked and made to percolate to other desired persons/ groups. Wadhawan agrees that the organisation must focus on critical incidents. The management can best access an employee’s potential skill by having regular interactions and knowing them better. One of the ways of doing this is simulating situations and seeing how the employee behaves and delivers—by changing the environment and work profile to see how well the empl-oyee adapts and changes depending on the need. The employee’s behaviour and performance in such situations can be taken as indicators for skills he/she could potentially demonstrate.

Key challenges

Skills being abstract in nature and rapidly changing lead to a few inherent challenges related to their identification and tracking. Kumar explains that the real difficulty arises on account of inappropriate and unclear definition of skill vis-a-vis the actual expertise level and perception of employees. They may see this exercise as a prelude to career advancement and are not very open to accept the actual level of expertise in a particular skill. “The difficulty lies in measuring the depth and validating it. To explain, there could be a five-point rating scale where the person does a self-rating of each skill. Candidates are likely to always rate themselves at a higher level,” explains Rajan. Problems also arise when there is a difference of rating standards between managers.

Furthermore, personality traits (like leadership skills, etc) do not change that frequently, but can be developed with proper training. “As a result, keeping the skill inventory up-to-date with accurate information is a challenge,” states Nirupama. Sometimes getting a true picture of skill sets and levels across teams also becomes a challenge.

These issues do put a reasonable question mark on the feasibility and accuracy of skills tracking programmes. However, experts argue that this exercise may not be a perfect system to begin with but based on experience can be gradually improved and perfected. Wadhawan belie-ves that it is important to relate to the context in which the person operates and also that the feedback should be validated to avoid any major pitfalls. The need for involving multi-raters should be there to see a pattern of skill sets an employee is exhibiting, for an accurate and complete assessment. “The programmes can also be made effective if the framework is standardised and communicated effectively to users,” asserts Nirupama.


The identification of existing and potential skills can be one of the most challenging and sensitive areas as one cannot expect immediate miracles. Filling skill and competency gaps takes time, effort, and cultural adjustments. Devising systems alone cannot be enough. While using set tools and methodologies helps in creating a degree of standardisation within the exercise, one cannot be dependant only on formal and scientific means of identifying people skills considering it’s human nature one is dealing with.

The art of skills tracking may well be the origin of science. What is essential for its success is the right blend of the two. While science can be used to gather the basic ground level information, the touch of sensitivity and personalisation is necessary to give this a final shape. It is up to HR to not only design the system but also educate employees about the benefits of using them for self-appraisal, career development, and other processes.

You can read the entire article at.

© Copyright 2003: Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Limited (Mumbai, India). All rights reserved throughout the world.



From India, Mumbai
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