Introducing SFIA v8 and how CDRU can support Workforce Optimisation
The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is one of the most versatile skills and competency frameworks to use in an IT organisation. September 2021 saw the release of the latest version, SFIA v8. A collaborative effort that is the result of input from a community of global IT users and experts to ensure the framework represents the technology landscape of our digital world and meets the needs of both industry and business.
What is SFIA?
SFIA is a complete reference model for describing skills and competency defined in an understandable language that can be universally applied. It has the flexibility to fit in with an organisation’s own ways of working, structure and processes (e.g. SIAM process model). SFIA can integrate with other frameworks (e.g. ITIL) and can be used across multiple industries and different sized organisations at group, department or team level. SFIA defines the essence of a skill, the level of responsibility at which the skill is exercised, and it considers the knowledge, attributes and behavioural factors that reflect competency.
What are the additional themes with SFIA v8 compared to SFIA v7?
SFIA v7 has a total of 102 skills with a focus on: Digital Transformation, Agile/DevOps, Software Engineering, Big Data/Informatics, Service Management, Cyber Security and the Knowledge Dimension.
SFIA v8 has a total of 120 skills with an additional focus on: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Computational Science, Robotic Process Automation, a greater emphasis on Security and Privacy, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Change and Transformation and People Management as well as the introduction of Behavioural Factors within the 7 Levels of Responsibility.
SFIA and the Future Jobs Report
With the release of SFIA v8, we can see there is a correlation between the skills described in SFIA to those classified as ‘growing by job demand’ in the latest Future Jobs Report published in October 2020 by the World Economic Forum.
World Economic Forum – Growing by Job Demand:
- Data Analysts and Scientists
- AI and Machine Learning Specialists
- Big Data Specialists
- Digital Marketing and Strategy Specialists
- Process Automation Specialists
- Business Development Professionals
- Digital Transformation Specialists
- Information Security Analysts
- Software and Application Developers
- Internet of Things Specialists
According to the Future Jobs Report, the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns and related global recession of 2020 have created a highly uncertain outlook for the labour market and accelerated the arrival of the future of work. The future of work has already arrived for a large majority of organisations; 84% of employers are digitalizing their working processes and are expanding remote work.
Skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change by 2025. The pace of technology adoption is expected to remain unabated and may accelerate in some areas. The adoption of cloud computing, big data and e-commerce remain prominent with an increased interest in encryption, non-humanoid robots, artificial intelligence and automation.
Over the next 4 years, the share of core skills that will change is 40% and 50% of employees will need reskilling with 94% of business leaders reporting that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job.
Why use SFIA / What is the value of SFIA ?
The emphasis on reskilling or upskilling has never been so great and this window of opportunity has become shorter in the newly constrained skills market.
A critical asset of any organisation is its people and the talent they bring. Like all assets, they need to be nurtured and grown. SFIA can help harness and nurture the talent of your IT workforce. A good starting point is to know what skills you have and to consider what skills you need to meet and support the strategic direction of the organisation. Understanding these 2 elements leads to improved workforce planning and workforce optimisation. A key component to workforce optimisation is access to essential information such as accurately predicting staffing needs, efficiently applying workforce scheduling, running cost effective operations, achieving service levels and performance metrics and improved customer satisfaction. Underpinning these factors is the ability to understand the capabilities of your workforce and how best to leverage their talent for optimum performance and improved productivity.
One example in how SFIA can support workforce optimisation, is to use SFIA as an effective tool and process for gaining data insights into the current and latent skills of your IT workforce. This is typically achieved by an individual undertaking a SFIA based skills self-assessment. The result from these assessments provides valuable information from an employee, team and group perspective and answers the critical question of ‘what skills do you have?’ This information can feed into resource management strategies such as understanding what additional talent you need, managing your talent through effective deployment (assigning work by capability), skills gap analysis and talent retention strategies such as upskilling and reskilling (optimising your training budget by targeting training where skills gaps have been identified); these are all contributing factors towards growth and development both of the individual and the organisation.
But SFIA is much more than a skills assessment tool. It is a complete reference library of IT professional skills. When we describe SFIA as versatile, what we mean is that the framework can be used at any entry point or juncture to support an organisations’ management of their IT workforce.
SFIA and the Skills Management Lifecycle
We can summarize SFIA as an enabler in Organisational and Role Design, new IT Operating Models, Organisational Transformation, Position Descriptions or Role Profiles, Skills Identification, Skills Assessment and Skills Gap Analysis, Staff Development, Workforce Planning and Retention Strategies, aligning Capability to Remuneration Grades and Sourcing Strategies with the use of SFIA Rate Cards.
CDRU and SFIA
Since 2017, CDRU has been working with SFIA (versions 6 and 7) and is well placed to apply SFIA version 8 with its consultant having been a contributor to this latest release. CDRU has practical experience in implementing SFIA in support of their clients’ integrated change and transformation programs in addition to providing input to cost optimisation sourcing strategies.
Our SFIA related experience includes aligning people capability with new IT operating models in using SFIA to support ITIL, organisational and role design, position description creation, skills assessment and skills gap analysis, aligning SFIA to an organisations’ own competency framework, their remuneration grading structure and supporting cost effective sourcing strategies with external suppliers by aligning capability with the provision of services and SFIA rate cards.
As we consider the future landscape of our digital world and the skills needed to support demand, the Future Jobs Report indicates that the large majority of employers recognise the value of human capital investment despite the current economic downturn. An average of 66% of employers surveyed expect to get a return on investment in upskilling and reskilling within one year. However, this time horizon risks being too long for many employers in the context of the current economic shock. On average, employers expect to offer reskilling and upskilling to just over 70% of their employees by 2025. However, employee engagement into those courses is lagging with only 42% of employees taking up employer-supported reskilling and upskilling opportunities.
Human Capital Investment
These factors give cause for further consideration as to whether your IT workforce has the required skills and capability to support your organisation’s technology and business strategies.
In closing, I would like to add that I have enjoyed working with our clients in implementing SFIA to assist their IT organisation with transformational change programs. No matter how large or small these changes are, the benefits of utilising SFIA remain long after its implementation. An example of this, is the work we have done in creating up to date SFIA based position descriptions for enterprise IT.
It is apparent that not all IT employees have a position description that reflects their role today. It goes without saying that such a key piece of information reaps the benefits of knowing and managing expectations from all parties involved. The other benefit of having up to date position descriptions is that they provide an essential cross-check and an effective bottom-up review of the scope of positions in the overall organisational design and in the world of SIAM, these position descriptions can ensure a clear delineation of accountabilities between staff and service partner resources.