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Why Skills Audits Make Sense

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Why Skills Audits Make Sense

By Rainer Busch

This article discusses the purpose of skills audits in organisations and how to utilise skills audit data to improve productivity and mitigate risk.

A skills audit involves the determination and documentation of all the skills needed to run an organisation and to determine and document who in the organisation has the required skills. The audit data can be used to detect skill deficiencies, improve skill levels and prevent critical skill losses.

Each person who works in the organisation has a set of skills. Not only is it important for the organisation to know what each person’s skill set and skill levels are, but it is also important to know how these skills are utilised as part of his/her work role.

A skills audit consists of the following steps:

  1. The review of processes, tasks and objectives to determine and document all the skills needed in the organisation. – Provided an organisation has documented its processes well this task can usually be completed relatively quickly. However, if processes are not documented it is useful to perform process mapping activities in conjunction with the skills audit.
  2. The rating of skills by importance. – It must be established how critical each skill is for the organisation, how difficult each skill may be to acquire if it is no longer available  and how the required skill contributes to the organisation’s targets.
  3. The gathering and documentation of the skills that the people in the organisation have. – This will ideally include all skills a person has, not just those that are directly related to the work performed in the organisation. This information becomes important for future human resource planning / succession planning.
  4. The building of a skills matrix showing all personnel with their current skills and the skills required to run the organisation. Critical skills must be highlighted. (Note: Some management system software such as ‘Paradigm 3’ has inbuilt features that can be utilised as a skills matrix.)
  5. An analysis of the ‘skills available’ vs. the ‘skills needed’. – At an absolute minimum there should always be at least two people in an organisation who are skilled in particular tasks. However for those skills that have been rated as ‘critical’ the organisation may decide to have more than two people in the organisation they can call on when needed.

The role of the skills matrix

An organisation that maintains an up to date skills matrix will know at all times what skills are needed to run the organisation and who in the organisation has the required skills. If a person is absent or leaves the organisation, the responsible manager can immediately assess what skills are ‘lost’ and what skills will need to be replaced. An up to date skills matrix enables the organisation to plan ahead and to ensure that it has spare capacity of critical skills either in its own ranks or via known, reliable outside resources. Managers will know exactly that critical skills will always be on hand thus mitigating risks that may otherwise impede efficient and effective operations.

Raidho Solutions assists organisations with skills audits and the setup of a skills matrix.

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