Importance of Competency Mapping in the IT Industry

by Srikant Chellappa Nov 24,2021
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A competency model is a framework that lists the required competencies to perform a specific job and function productively. Competencies of individual employees are organised as per the model that assists in identifying, understanding, and applying the model to workforce performance.

What is Competency Mapping?

In order to remain competitive in the continuously changing IT sphere, it is crucial to understand the competencies at various levels of the organisation to procure, retain, and develop competent team members. Competency mapping is the way of assessing and identifying the competencies of an organisation and inculcating them into various processes of job evaluation, training, recruitment, and learning and development. It is one of the most accurate means of identifying individual behavioural and job-related competencies. 

The skills required to execute a job depends on a number of factors, such as technical challenges involved in the task, technical and functional competencies required to accomplish the task, organisational structure, nature of processes and assigned activities, business nature, social culture, and behaviour and attitude of the employee towards the job responsibilities. Competency mapping helps in aligning the skills required to perform activities productively with the individual skills and attributes. 

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The process of competency mapping involves breaking down a given job role or function is into constituent tasks or activities and competencies (technical, managerial, behavioural, conceptual, behaviour) required to perform the job productively. It further helps in determining the various job-related competencies of employees. It lays the foundation for the development and sustainability of competencies with the changing organisational requirements.

The IT organisations employ various competency models with a design strategy aligned with the organisational goals. The ultimate goal of a model is to create a sustainable and productive workforce that enhances the proficiency level of an employee in executing a task. The model helps employees find the gaps in competencies and measures their on-job performance. It suggests training programs and workshops to increase employee efficiency and productivity at the workplace.

What is Competency?

As per the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a combination of measurable and observable skills, abilities, knowledge, and personal attributes are defined as competency. It consists of a number of success factors required for achieving important results in a job role. Knowledge, skills, attributes, personal characteristics are described in terms of employee behaviours required to execute a job function productively. Competency comprises behaviour and employee aptitude, skills, and functional knowledge and is similar to an iceberg model shown in the figure below.

Competency Mapping- Iceberg Model

Image Source: Capitalwave

Competencies directly impact organisational success, and a well-defined competency mapping helps the IT industry achieve the desired professional missions and goals.

Competencies in the IT Industry

Competency for a job is a set of skills, attributes, and knowledge that are required to exceed the expectations of the internal and external stakeholders. These skills lay the foundation for accomplishing the tasks efficiently and thus help the organisation achieve the desired results. 

Traditionally, the Human resource team would employ a set of tools and techniques to identify the competency skills of the IT employees’, but with the technological changes and remote working challenges introduced by the pandemic, the focus has shifted to involve a set of behavioural attributes along with the IT expertise. The competencies are mapped as per the technical skillset and the behavioural characteristics of an employee. 

There are various ways to think of competencies, but for an IT organisation, the following factors are helpful while studying the IT industry competencies.

  • Technical Competencies: IT organisations deploy several tools and software in their projects to get the desired output for clients. To perform well in the assigned job role, an employee should have technical expertise in software development, testing, and project management. The rampant changes and advancements in the technical domain require employees to stay abreast of various software domains. The advent of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning has metamorphosed the technical architecture, and IT professionals are expected to have a strong understanding of the technical area to face the challenges. Hardware, software, and networking skills should be common to everybody working in the development teams.
  • Management Competencies: IT professionals have to be competent in management to attain a competitive position in the business field. Some of the management competencies expected from an IT professional include IT-Preneur, project management, ethical judgement, and multitasking. These competencies are common to all the employees working on a specific project.
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  • Leadership Competencies: Irrespective of the function, leadership skills form the basis of effective IT management. Under leadership, there are three types of competencies- Self Leading, Leading Teams, and Leading the Business.
  1. Self Leading: Time management, analytical thinking, and emotional intelligence form the basis of leading self and is expected in all the individual contributors.
  2. Leading Teams: Team leading skills, conflict resolution and avoidance, mentoring and coaching, and increasing team productivity are the competencies required from managers. 
  3. Leading the business: The competencies of business leaders include an entrepreneurial mindset, competitive strategy, change management, and a compelling vision to ensure business success.
  • Behavioural Competencies: Behavioural competencies are the most difficult to ascertain. These competencies constitute Adaptability/Decisiveness, Initiative/Perseverance, Interpersonal Skills, Organisational Skills, Stress Management, Valuing Service and Diversity. HR managers have a tough job of understanding an employee’s personal characteristics and attributes and aligning them towards suitable job functions that contribute towards employee and organisational success.

Now that we have understood the competencies required in an IT organisation, let us understand the competency mapping process.

Competency Mapping Process

Competency mapping is a complex task and requires collaboration from various departments. Check out the steps involved in the competency mapping process below:

  • Gathering employee information: Various measures are used to gather employee information, such as filling out questionnaires, personal interviews, and surveys. The crux is to find the technical, functional, and behavioural skills required to accomplish a task.
  • Create draft competency model framework: The data gathered from employees helps in creating a draft framework. The draft framework includes competency names, definitions, and descriptions. 
  • Take assistance from industry experts: Subject matter experts with expertise in the specific domain are selected to provide assistance in refining the draft model.  Their job is to re-model the framework to focus on the specific job functions.
  • Refining the framework: The next step involves analysing the framework and incorporating suggestions from the focus group (industrial experts); aligning competency names, definitions, and processes towards industrial standards.
  • Validating the framework: To ensure the model is effective, it is validated against the competencies identified in the framework and the data gathered from employees.
  • Putting the model into action: Once the model has been validated, it is time to put it into action. The HR managers monitor the success of the model and keep track of its performance at fixed intervals.

Need for Competency Mapping

As per Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, only six out of ten employees are aware of their job expectations and only 41 per cent agree that their job description matches with the work assigned to them. The statistics show the urgent need for competency mapping in organisations.

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Competency mapping is complex yet effective in aligning the employees with the organisational goals, resulting in a highly productive workforce. It has gained prominence, and many IT organisations are realising the need to build a competency model to make their employees more productive, skilled, and ready to take challenges. The changing business ecosystem and the pandemic-led developments in the IT industry call for developing distinguished competencies for every organisation.

The following points highlight the need for Competency Mapping in the IT industry:

  • Changing Global Business Ecosystem: The Covid-19 pandemic has overhauled the global ecosystem and has disrupted the IT industry. In the changing scenario, it is imperative to have a robust competency model that aligns the employees and new talent towards the goal of the organisation.
  • Recruiting Right Talent: Competency mapping underlines the skills required for every task in a job function. It helps the HR managers and leaders in designing a selection process that focuses on hiring the right candidate suitable for the job.
  • Retaining High-Performing Employees: High-performing employees are critical to the organisation, and it is essential to create a mechanism to retain them for maintaining effective workplace dynamics. Competency mapping plays a vital role in recognising the efforts of such employees and helps in rewarding them suitably. 
  • Increased Customers Focus: In the last decade, IT organisations have become highly customer-centric. With the intense competition in the global market, it is imperative to provide effective and timely delivery of projects. It is possible when a high-performance team is available to deliver as per the agreed standards. 

Benefits of Competency Mapping

Successful competency mapping and execution is beneficial to both the employer and employees. It helps in creating a standard for employee recruitment, training and development, re-skilling, and effective positioning of resources. 

A well-defined competency model helps in skilling the employees in performing the job functions efficiently and setting benchmark standards for a particular job function. 

Stages of Competency Mapping

Source: Careercliff

Organisations can reap the following benefits from competency modelling:

  • Ensuring that training and development sessions organised for employees are cost-effective, productive, and aligned towards the specific functions’ goals.
  • Outlining the skills, knowledge, and attributes of an employee relating to every activity of the task.
  • Helping in containing the cost overruns caused by the poor performance of employees and miscommunication in setting job expectations.
  • Creating an effective communication channel between the employer and employees.
  • Helping in training employees on multiple skill sets that are useful in various projects as per the industrial requirements.
  • Creating a workforce of skilled and trained employees that can execute tasks within deadlines and aids organisations in scaling whenever required.
  • Creating a framework for constructive feedback assists in organising training workshops at frequent intervals for reskilling and upskilling.
  • It clearly outlines the career development path for employees within the organisation.
  • Helping organisations in selecting the right talent suitable for a job. It also helps in retaining the high-performing employees critical for workplace dynamics. 
  • Setting the benchmark for performance appraisals.
Also Read: 8 Tips To Improve Your Productivity In The Workplace 

Benefits of Competency Mapping for Employees:

  • It helps employees understand organisations’ expectations and enables them to make better decisions and work more productively. 
  • Employees can gain new skills through training and development workshops and utilise them in different projects.
  • It helps in identifying leaders and managers in teams suitable for technical and managerial functions within the organisation.
  • With the right job expectations and skill mapping, employee productivity increases and is more aligned towards organisational standards.
  • It provides a framework for employee recognition.
  • It provides a pathway for employees to re-skill and up-skill themselves on various technologies.

Challenges in Competency Mapping

Competency mapping can help an organisation at multiple levels, from increasing employee productivity to building a skilled workforce that can execute the tasks as per the benchmark standards. However, there are multiple challenges that IT organisations face while creating and implementing competency models. 

  • Because of the volatile nature of the global IT market, the advent of new technologies, and the diverse and multicultural workforce, it is difficult for HR managers to craft and implement the model that works for all the job functions. 
  • Competency mapping is complex and time-consuming and requires getting into the depth of a job function to ascertain the skills required to perform the task efficiently. 
  • A competency model comprises several layers: professional competencies, functional competencies, company mission and values, leadership skills, and individual attributes. It is challenging to swift through different layers and create a successful competency model. 
  • Understanding an employee’s behaviour and other characteristics is quite subjective and require gathering information through different processes. 
  • At the time of implementing competency models, there can be changes in the job requirements from the management and individual attributes not matching with the required skill set. 

It is crucial to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all competency model. HR managers have to focus on certain critical roles at the start of competency mapping to handle the challenges of implementing competency models. Start with the high-performing departments that are critical for the growth of the organisation and then go down to the other levels in the organisation.

Conclusion

The changing landscape of the global IT industry calls for a dynamic and skilled workforce. The decreasing shelf life of skills and the technological momentum requires IT organisations to take calculative steps in reskilling and upskilling the workforce to create a stronghold in the market. Competency mapping provides a breakthrough in aligning the workforce towards the organisational goals and creates a pathway for the involvement of employees in their career development, thereby serving the needs of the burgeoning IT industry.


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Author
Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2023.

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