Skills Tracking Enables More Effective Resource and Talent Management

Feb 21 08:27 2012 Hugh McInnes Print This Article

By now, most services leaders recognise that implementing effective Resource Management (RM) – getting the right person in the right place at the right time - is essential to successfully operating the Professional Services Organisation (PSO). Skills tracking and inventory capabilities support three key elements of managing the talent pool:

1. Resource Management provides information needed to support an appropriate staffing process. A good Resource Management methodology requires the ability to track skill needs for projects,Guest Posting identify available skill needs for upcoming projects, provide available skills usage information to accommodate project resource shifts, and plan for future project needs. A quality skill tracking solution provides for the ability to capture, analyze, and produce skills information supporting all these needs. This includes, by resource, what skills are being deployed, for what project, for how long, and what skills and resources remain on the bench.

2. Talent Development and Management – provides data to analyse and determine future workforce requirements as input for recruiting and employee development. Drawing upon a data-based forecast, skills tracking will support a good talent development and management system enabling analysis of future employee skill gaps, correlated to employee career desires and skills development plans. Training, on-boarding, and recruiting all benefit from this analysis and tracking of skills.

3. Skills mix management (strategic resource planning) – a key element of talent management is managing the skills mix. Gaining an aggregate view at a granular level of future skill needs enables the enterprise to plan strategies for resource acquisition, cost planning, and location balancing. Skills’ tracking enables the ability to analyse the optimisation of skills sourcing for cost and location needs. Examples would be: can we source certain skills from lower cost labour markets, or; can we alter the location mix of future hires to lower travel costs and speed availability of personnel or; can we alter our peak-load strategy to minimise fluctuations in employee levels by better optimising partners and contractors?

A remaining point to mention is that having on-going data maintenance / verification process is essential to supporting the long term viability of your skills tracking process.

Governing the Skills Tracking Process

Creating a governance structure with appropriate metrics is always good practice. As you design your solution governance approach, some key metrics to develop are:

Delivery and Resource Management:

- Utilization – target to be consistently at or above benchmark levels
- Project performance – start on time, finish on time, within budget, with exceptional quality
- Project margins - target to be consistently at or above benchmark levels
- Average time to staff projects - target to be consistently at or above benchmark levels

Talent Management:

- On-boarding time to enable a productive employee – continuous improvement should be a key focus
- Employee retention (vs. industry average) should be managed to target levels
- Average labor cost per hour – continuous improvement should be a key focus
- Certification measurements – these are usually specific to your particular certification programs

Your workflow design should then incorporate scheduled reviews of key metrics, governance meetings to evaluate outcomes, and a continuous improvement process to refine your business processes.

Selecting the Right PSA Solution for Skills Tracking

Selecting a PSA (Professional Services Automation)  solution is not an easy task. The market can appear fragmented and the approaches of the various vendors often vary, making it difficult to compare apples to apples during the selection process. It is also difficult to separate an overall PSA selection, which can include project management, resource management, timesheet management and expense management, as well as project accounting and invoicing, from the needs specific to skills tracking. But because skills’ tracking is vitally important and connected to many other aspects of the PSO, the advice provided will have many common threads.

Here are some thoughts on evaluating a Skills Tracking / PSA solution to make the process easier:

- Define business requirements up front – involve PS, HR, and IT (at a minimum) in this process.
- Look for flexibility in configurability and assigning custom fields / names.
- Evaluate integration possibilities /capabilities with existing back-end systems for HR applications. This will help save time and expense for data entry and maintenance. HR systems often serve multiple needs (Payroll, benefits, skills profiles, etc.) and are not likely to be completely replaced by a PSA solution.
- Look for ease of data entry and maintenance – if you make this easy, end users will provide more timely data enabling more real-time decision making. PSA mobile applications are growing in capability and convenience.
- Evaluate query and reporting capabilities including standard reports.
- Review typical software solution needs such as scalability, performance, and support.

Closing Comments

Implementing effective Resource and Talent Management practices requires true skills-based tracking and staffing capabilities. In order to develop these capabilities, the PSO must build and maintain an easily accessible, searchable skills database, along with subsets of skills matrices and hierarchies that will ensure that the best available consultant can be identified and staffed to each and every project role. These same capabilities must also serve the Talent Management needs of the business, including career planning, skills development planning, and skills certification planning.

Effective skills tracking can provide the following benefits:

- Enable better financial results via more effective resource management
- Achieve improved employee morale and reduce employee attrition
- Facilitate a more nimble and responsive services operation
- Simplify operations and improve overall business throughout

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About Article Author

Hugh McInnes
Hugh McInnes

Hugh McInnes works hard. He runs a small business and does well because he uses resource management to help him. He gets a bit stressed out at times but mostly things go his way. The internet is one of his hobbies, and he's been recommending timesheet management to organisations for a number of years

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