George had the same job in his last company he worked for, for over a decade. He had a defined set of tasks to be completed. Did he have skills beyond those tasks? Yes, he did. Were those skills required by the company? Yes, very much. The organization had been scouting for roles with those skills quite frequently. So, why didn’t they float the vacancy internally? Rigid organizational structures did not allow a fluid internal movement. But even if they had a fluid internal structure, how would they know if the applicant had the required skills? The hands-on skills could not be verified, since it was never documented anywhere, nor any opportunity was offered to test it out.

According to a global Deloitte survey of more than 1,200 professionals, organizations are increasingly experimenting with what they hope is a better way. By separating the work from the job, by dividing it into tasks or projects, people can be seen as individuals with skills instead of typesetting them into specific jobs. With that done, the individuals with skills can then be fluidly mapped to their interests and ever-evolving business priorities. When organizations base their decisions on skills instead of jobs, a more equitable, scalable, and manageable work environment is created.

Virgin Atlantic loaning its furloughed flight attendants to UK hospitals to help with customer care demonstrates that workers are far more capable than we think of when stepping outside their regular jobs to add value in new ways.

The importance of skill mapping gets amplified in a project-based business wherein project teams are built based on the availability of existing skill pool and businesses operate on tight project schedules. Projects demand a diverse range of skills, often varying with each new project. Without a clear comprehension of the skills available within the organization, project managers may find it challenging to assign the right people to the right tasks, leading to inefficiencies and potential project delays, and an inequitable work environment. On the other hand, skill mapping and shared spreadsheets do not play well together owing to susceptibility to errors and additional complexities.

However, more than just the strategic shift that skill mapping can bring into project teams, it impacts the four key business functions in a project-based organizations. This impact is significant in all its aspects, and together it boosts project profitability.

Impact on Key Functions

Human Resources

  1. The skills forecast flagged off by the project team is a green light for the resourcing team to identify existing skills within the organization and carry out the skill gap analysis. With the gap highlighted, the resourcing team can now look at hiring models that will be most apt for those skills, given the budget accounted for those resources.
  2. Furthermore, skill mapping supports the development of effective training programs. By understanding the skills that employees currently possess and those required for a project, HR can design training programs that address these needs and promote continuous learning.
  3. Skill mapping also plays a significant role in employee development. By identifying the skills that employees possess and the areas they need to improve, HR can provide targeted development opportunities. This not only enhances the employees’ skills but adds to the employee’s value proposition provided by the employer.
  4. In addition to recruitment and training, skill mapping plays a crucial role in succession planning and performance management. It enables HR to identify potential leaders within the organization and prepare them for future roles, ensuring business continuity. Moreover, skill mapping allows HR to design performance metrics that align with the organization’s skill requirements. This alignment ensures that employees are evaluated and rewarded based on their contribution to the organization’s goals.

Sales and Marketing

With complete and clear visibility of the business’ skill map, the sales and marketing team knows the in-house mine of skills that can be leveraged to hunt for fresh projects. But there is more that a skill map can uncover for the sales and marketing team.

  1. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Projects can reap results even after their closure. They become proof points for the sales and marketing team to showcase to prospective clients. Once mapped on the skill library, the experience and skills gained during a project delivery can be leveraged to pitch for similar projects. The approach finds many takers in the sales and marketing team since the time to deliver such projects is shorter (given the learning curve is small), which eventually results in increased project profitability. The sales and marketing team can then initiate a search for new projects, based on the rich experience gained.
  2. There are skills which witness a sudden spike in demand in the marketplace. A clear visibility into the strength of such skills in the business gives the sales and marketing team leeway into riding the wave and fetching relevant projects. A market wave can ring in profits for a business with an accurate skill map in place.
  3. In addition to strategic planning, skill mapping can help in identifying opportunities for innovation. By understanding the unique skills within the organization, the sales and marketing team can identify new avenues, industries, use cases, etc., to leverage these skills, leading to innovative solutions and business growth. This innovative approach can give the organization a competitive edge and drive long-term success.

Project Delivery

The success of any project depends on the team working on it. Aligning the right skill to the right project at the right time can ensure a timely start to the project and eventually, a timely delivery. However, apart from the skills, a skill matrix can do much more, especially for project managers.

  1. Projects differ from one another based on skill requirement. Some may require a completely different skill set, while others may require some overlapping skills but with varying degree. A skill scoring matrix can help you understand the right resource fit for the projects, by prioritizing the skills. Alternatively, grades, levels, or category labels can indicate the proficiency levels of a particular set of skills for an employee.
  2. With the above skill scoring in place, a skill matrix can now enable tighter and focused requirement for the talent acquisition team, instead of loose job-based hiring requirement
  3. A sum of skill weights (scores, levels, etc.) can determine the most valued employee in project teams. It can also uncover specific skills that can be strengthened and the training requirements to do so.
  4. A skill map of your entire team will also uncover potential skill loss threats. Weak skill areas with little or no replaceable member is a weak point and needs immediate redressal.

Finance

Skill mapping can significantly impact the financial performance of a project-based business. By ensuring that the right people with the right skills are assigned to the right projects, firms can reduce project delays, rework, lower burn out, and better employee engagement – all leading to reduced attrition, which eventually leads to better project profitability. Reduced attrition percentages also helps reduce the recruitment costs which leads to improved cost savings. Additionally, with the help of training and development initiatives, skill mapping can help firms develop the skills they need in-house, potentially reducing the need to hire external consultants or contractors, which can be a significant cost.

The way forward

George was an old hat with excellent sales and marketing skills. However, his finance skills were even better. An organization of the past perhaps could have managed despite the rigid organizational structures. However, in today’s war-torn talent market, an unoptimized talent pools feels nothing less than blasphemy. Talent and skill drive the project-based market. From its availability in the market to operational relevance, from its sale-ability to financial impact, it influences all key business functions of a project-based business. Viewing a skill map using a single lens would be akin to putting blinkers to a flying plane. A connected and composable system, instead, connecting key business functions, can leverage the skill pool to the fullest.

Ready to skill map your project team? Get started by putting the basic structure in place.

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