Change management
Skills development


October 20, 2020
8 min

To meet their increasingly specific operational needs, companies are now looking to organize their employees according to their skills rather than their job title. The main challenge being to match their various needs in terms of skills with those held by their employees. That’s where the competency map comes into play.

In this context, it is key for companies to be able to access a dynamic overview of available skills in real time. Competency mapping will make it possible to identify in a few clicks the skills mastered by each employee, the associated level of expertise, skills shortages, etc.

A dynamic competency map is an essential decision-making tool when it comes to defining strategic recruitment or training plans.

Napta is an intelligent competency-based resource planning solution, deployed with 20,000 employees worldwide. In particular, Napta helps its customers build and maintain an exhaustive and up-to-date dynamic mapping of their employees' skills to assist them in their HR choices.

In this article, we share with you good practices from some of our clients on how to build a dynamic competency map.

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What is a competency map? 🤔

A competency map is a snapshot of all the skills available in the company at a given moment. It enables you to determine the knowledge, expertise and interpersonal skills of each employee.

This mapping is based on a list of predefined skills established by the organisation, which is called a skills repository. Employees can browse this repository and indicate the skills that are relevant for them.

Let’s step back for a moment and define the main HR and operational objectives of dynamic competency mapping and how it can be used effectively.

‍Build and manage a dynamic competency map .

Why is it essential to work with a dynamic competency map?💡

As suggested above, a dynamic competency map is a strong operational tool that will bring you 6 key benefits:

👅 A common corporate language

All available competencies in the company are consolidated in a coherent and documented framework. This means that all stakeholders in the company have a common definition for each competency. If a project manager requests a resource with "Infra" or "Change" expertise, the project manager, the supervisor and the employees who claim to have the requested competency must all have the same definition of the terms used. No more misunderstandings and loss of information!

🌀Promote knowledge sharing among peers

If we take the previous example, the dynamic competency map should make it possible to immediately identify employees with "Infra" and "Change" competencies. Once the adequate profiles have been pinpointed, they can be called upon to work on a specific topic or to be deployed on a project.

📊 Anticipate and make decisions based on objective data

By visualising the skills needed by the company and those available, it is easier to establish effective training and recruitment plans. These decisions are part of a Strategic Workforce Planning approach.

🏁 Offer your employees personalised career paths

The more you know about each employee's competencies, the more you can offer individualised upskilling programs.

📈 Monitor your employees' progress over time

In order to measure the impact of HR actions, it is necessary to monitor the evolution of your employees’ competencies.

🌟 Ensure employees work in compliance with regulations

For some tasks, rules and regulations require that the employee in charge has specific certifications. This is very common in manufacturing, for example. It is therefore essential that you monitor each employee's qualifications and ensure that they are valid.

These are all good reasons to define a skills repository and set up a competency map in your company. Remember that all these objectives are correlated with the fact that your dynamic competency map is up to date. This is essential. We explain how to do this below.

Step 1: Laying the groundwork

Before getting down to the nitty-gritty, it is important to consider the following prerequisites to successfully build your dynamic competency map.

🎯 Set the objectives based on your company's specific context

‍Here are some examples of objectives for the employees:

- Anticipate recruitment and internal mobility needs
- Determine training needs
- Identify the right profiles to fill a position
- Build competent project teams to answer requests for tender
- Anticipate the loss of competency due to departures or unavailability (turnover, retirements, unavailable staff)
- Prepare annual reviews
- Ensure compliance

Here are some examples of objectives for the employee.

- Promote self-assessment
- Serve as a support for management
- Indicate one's development wishes and aspirations
- Visualise the skills on which to improve in order to evolve in the company

🙋 Appoint a lead working group

Dans les petites structures (< 50 collaborateurs), il peut s’agir d’une personne seule qui dédie 2 à 3 heures de son temps à la mise en place de ce projet.
Dans les plus grosses entités (> 50 collaborateurs), mieux vaut désigner un groupe de quelques personnes issues de différents métiers sur ce projet : un responsable en recrutement, un responsable en formation, un directeur opérationnel, des managers, par exemple.

🎬 Define the scope

Whether you want to build a dynamic competency map for your entire company or only for a part of it, it is important that you clearly define the scope of the project before your start. If you are monitoring clearances, it may be appropriate to limit your mapping to the relevant employees. However, if you’re aiming for the macro-objectives listed above, it is best to include everyone in your company.

Step 2: Define the structure of the skills repository

Before discussing skills, let's start with the overall structure of the skills repository that will support the competency mapping.

At Napta, we usually recommend starting with a simple skills repository that’s meaningful for all stakeholders: Managers, Employees, Planning Managers, HR.

In particular, drawer repositories that discourage those who browse them and are extremely heavy to maintain should be avoided.
Example: Category A > Sub-Category A > Competency B > Sub-Competency B

A simple two-level structure will be a better tool: Competency categories ➡ Skills

‍Here are the basic rules defined by Napta to build up your skills repository structure:

✅ Between 10 and 20 categories depending on the size of your company to facilitate user experience

✅ An average of 20 skills per category to keep it concise and manageable:
Max. 250 skills for a company with less than 500 employees
Max. 400 skills for a company with more than 1,000 employees

✅ Between 1 and 4 competency rating systems (languages / certifications / hard skills / soft skills)

When building your skills repository framework, the most important thing to keep in mind is to be very consistent with your actual internal organisation. For example, by choosing transversal competency categories and specific competency categories for the different divisions.

At Napta, the basic categories we recommend to our clients are

Line of business
Project/assignment type
IT tools

‍External reference systems such as that of APEC or CIGREF can serve as a starting point for building your own reference system, provided that you adapt this base to your own context, which will require some energy. We have observed that the most effective skills repositories are those built from scratch through collaboration between operational and HR managers.

If you have any doubts about the structure of your skills repository framework, do not hesitate to contact us so that we can share with you some of the best practices identified over time at some of our clients.

‍Step 3: Define a rating system specific to each competency

"What can't be measured can't be managed."
Peter Drucker

‍In order to ensure that the competency map is truly objective and useful, a rating system will have to be assigned to each competency.
Therefore, once the overall skills repository framework has been defined, each competency needs to be assigned an assessment standard using objective and quantifiable criteria in order to prevent employees from under-/over-evaluating themselves.

These rating criteria may vary depending on the category or competency being assessed:

- For lines of business, the number of years of experience or of projects carried out can be considered
- For languages, the evaluation scale of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) is the most widely used
- Clearances and certifications can be assessed with a binary evaluation system: certified/not certified - or use levels if applicable to the certification
- For the command of specific tools, a dedicated rating scale may be used

The assessment system will ensure that the competency map is based on shared and objective standards which will allow employees to assess themselves objectively and truthfully.

Step 4: Reach out to employees

‍It would be possible to build a dynamic competency map without collecting information directly from employees, for example based on the knowledge of managers or HR managers, although it would not be very efficient. Indeed, if the skills repository framework is shared, standardized and normalized, employees can easily indicate their skills and their level of expertise for each of them.

‍Putting employees back at the heart of project management also has several virtues:

📜 Gathering a more comprehensive view of employees’ skills Our clients have observed that when employees declared their competencies themselves, their number was significantly higher than when a third party did it for them (65% higher on average).

✨ Capturing aspirations and development wishes This information is invaluable and allows you to draw up individualized development plans.

👍 Keeping an updated skills repository When declaring their skills, employees must be able to suggest new skills that a repository manager might not have thought of. This feedback is valuable because an employee can bring specific knowledge of new tools or new languages acquired on the job and not detected by management. The repository manager must be able to decide whether to include the suggested skills.

In a world where skills evolve very quickly, the support of employees is essential to keep an updated skills repository.

Step 5: Bring your competency mapping to life

Once your first competency mapping campaign has been finalised, integrate it into your management processes, your feedback framework and your HR and GPEC decision processes. The aim is to have a dynamic and sustainable competency map over time.

‍Here are a few events of corporate life that will allow you to carry out updates, for an easy and sustainable competency mapping process:

- annual reviews and end-of-project assessments for competency levels
- training courses for competency, certifications and clearances updates
- manager feedback for validating declared expertise levels
- e-mailing campaigns to inform employees when new skills are added to the repository so that they can declare them on their profile

Ways to keep your skills repository up to date:

- give employees the opportunity to suggest new skills
- set up a skills repository review committee involving all the stakeholders every 6 months to decide which skills to add, delete or merge.

The competency map in short

Having a dynamic competency map is a necessity to align your HR decisions with your operational challenges. It allows you to know your teams inside out, to know which profiles and which skills to assign to which projects, and for your employees to take part in their professional development. Real time information is a key issue that only a digital solution integrated into your processes (project feedback, evaluations, training, etc.) can achieve.

Napta helps agile companies build their personalised skills repository, from which a complete dynamic competency map is created in only 2 weeks. This is the cornerstone of company strategy for skills development, recruitment and training. And by integrating our solution with their processes, we enable our clients to automatically update their competency map over time.

To find out how Napta can help you create a competency map customized to your company, ask to speak with an expert.

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