#Skill management for more business success

Use of skills and competence management in projects

Skill management in projects consists of three main components – strategic, tactical and operational skill management. From a strategic perspective, it comprises a combination of knowledge and HR management. The goal here is to determine the required skills of future employees as early as the personnel selection stage. The strategic orientation of the company has the authority to set guidelines. However, the necessary skills must be known so that the development of the workforce can be aligned with business needs in the long term. Within the framework of tactical skills management, team leaders have the task of providing sufficient personnel at the required times. If necessary, they are responsible for training and inducting new team members. Operational skill management refers to the personal training and further education of individual team members in accordance with the requirements of the project team.

A project can only be realized optimally if the roles within the project team are filled with employees who have the right qualifications and sufficient experience. Since the skills of the employees are critical to the success of the project, the project team must be staffed with qualified people. This includes the technical skills, but also the social skills – such as team spirit, the ability to integrate into the team and to pull together – must be right. Project managers are faced with a difficult task here, because it is not easy to staff workable project teams with qualified project employees in a sometimes tight time window. The goal of skills management in the project is to optimally staff the project with the appropriate resources or to develop or qualify the available resources for the project tasks. This is the best way to ensure the quality of the implementation.

In order to combine project management with the skill management of the employees and thus find the optimal resources for staffing the project, the qualifications of the employees must be known internally and the wishes of the employees should also be taken into account. This achieves that the motivation of the team members and the will to cooperate is promoted. In order to recognize the potential of the employees, regular discussions should be held and training or continuing education should be offered to specialize the employees. Team activities also help to identify individual social skills more precisely. In order to be able to implement a project, there needs to be openness and transparency with regard to currently available projects. A project team can use the project descriptions to find out whether they can implement the project. Especially with agile project methods, the self-responsibility of the employees and regular communication with the other team members also count.

Four steps to optimal project staffing

Proper skills management within a project aims to provide the project with the appropriate resources. If the required resources do not exist in this way, it is necessary to develop or qualify employees for their corresponding roles in the project. Skill management can also be used to improve the search for suitable employees and thus ensure optimized personnel deployment. In addition, skills management is used for strategic project planning within the framework of project portfolio management and for the needs-oriented further development of the company’s own employees for targeted qualification as team members. A prerequisite for skills analysis is transparency and the comparison of the skills of individual employees with the target requirements profile.

In order to be able to optimally staff a project to be worked on, it is first necessary for the project managers to determine which skills the individual team members must have. This is the only way to ensure that the goals of the project are achieved with a sufficiently high level of quality and that the customers are satisfied. And satisfied customers are a guarantee for future growth, as they will also have future projects implemented at this company. The process is divided into four steps:

  1. Step 1 – Definition of the required skills

First of all, the skills required for the task processing must be defined. These are based on the descriptions of the individual work packages that make up the project structure.

  1. Step 2 – Determination of the necessary skill quality

In the second step it is determined how well the team member must master his skills. Is the knowledge of a beginner, an experienced employee sufficient or is expert knowledge necessary? Clues are experience and the ratings of theoretical knowledge..

  1. Step 3 – Candidate search by self-assessment

Once the required competencies and the level of skills have been determined, the company searches for suitable employees for the project team. A practical means of doing this are questionnaires in which employees are asked to perform a self-assessment.

  1. Step 4 – Comparison of target/actual profiles

Finally, based on the data, it is determined whether all required skills are available in the company. If it turns out that not all skills are available in the company, they must be covered from external sources.

In this process, it makes sense to put together a competency model for the project consisting of a skills catalog and all the required competencies. This is not just about technical competencies; methodological and social competencies as well as the personality of the employees should also be taken into account at the same time. The professional and character traits of each employee can thus be recorded and make the selection for the next project easier, since professional and personal qualifications are already recorded.

Before skill management is established in the company, it is necessary that all employees do not see the specification of their professional and personal qualifications as a value judgement, but rather that they are raised in order to staff projects in a targeted and motivating manner. This ensures that the project can be implemented successfully. In addition, the survey of the skills of all employees can also be used to determine which missing skills can be promoted through targeted training measures and to close existing skill gaps. Recording the available skills of all employees in a company-internal knowledge database ensures that projects are optimally staffed and provides the HR department with valuable insights for further personnel planning and development.

Skill management for targeted employee development

The development of a company’s own employees within the framework of skills management is becoming increasingly important for companies. It serves to build up valuable knowledge and maintain the core competencies of the company’s own employee pool. Particularly in the age of a shortage of skilled workers, this plays an important role in the competition for the best minds. Skill management allows strategic and systematic personnel development, because it helps to promote employees in a targeted manner and to place them in positions in which they enjoy working. This in turn ensures greater employee satisfaction and, as a result, higher employee loyalty. This in turn has an impact on employer branding – i.e. the attractiveness of the company as an employer – both positively and sustainably. Against the backdrop of the shortage of skilled workers, positive employer branding is an important competitive advantage. It can tip the scales in favor of a qualified job seeker deciding to work for the company.

In this context, it is important to consider the increasing digital transformation. Digitalization and the increased use of robots and cognitive technologies are changing the world of work and thus also project management. For the team members, this means that they have to learn how to deal with the new, technologized demands on their work. For the business, it means they need to define exactly what skills employees should have across all levels of management. This is in the strategic approach and also defines what the future requirements will be for working as a team. This is where skills management comes in, as each employee is individually equipped with the skills needed to implement each project. The competencies and skills of individual employees ascertained as part of skills management help project managers to bring the most suitable employees into his team at any time.

The practical side of skills management

The practical side of skill management In addition, skills management helps to establish a target/actual comparison of the available competencies in the company and thus assists in the optimal composition of a team. It is also a valuable means of finding out which skills and competencies are needed and need to be promoted as a matter of priority. At the same time, it can highlight how the transfer, use and development of the necessary skills should take place. An important criterion in this context is comprehensive and holistic communication between all parties.

In order to be able to implement the Skill management successfully in the entrepreneurial practice, it requires the collection and durable actualization of the requirement profiles to the coworkers as well as the regulation of the process cycles. The HR department also has the task of maintaining all job postings and keeping them up to date. Many larger companies use an automated software solution for this purpose. This reliably helps to control all administrative and organizational aspects and to keep all requirement profiles up to date. Other important functions of skills management are the distribution of tasks, deadlines, responsibilities and personnel development for the future.

In recent years, more and more companies are turning to artificial intelligence – which also has an impact on skills management. This is mainly because the demands on employees are changing. In order to be able to fully realize the benefits of using artificial intelligence – such as higher productivity, a growing gross domestic product and improved success for the company – the skills profile for individual employees is changing, in some cases considerably. Here, too, skills management can make a valuable contribution to developing and training employees in this way, as the change in qualifications is once again undergoing major changes as a result of technologization.

Aspects for future-oriented skills management

As a first step, it is necessary to bring qualified employees and advertised projects together. Here, it helps to record all qualifications and competencies of all employees in a knowledge database so that the available skills can be matched with the required competencies. In this way, the teams can be created with the optimal staffing and – if necessary – professional further development of the employees’ skills can be initiated. The basis for this is the stored employee profiles, which show all the qualifications of the employees.

With regard to a new strategic skills management system to be established, it is also always important to consider employee recruitment and retention. In this context, the company should carefully consider what monetary and non-monetary incentives it offers to get qualified personnel to apply to work on a project. This includes developing tailored career programs. Particularly through automation, companies should provide targeted support for the development of the required skills in order to gain a competitive advantage for themselves. Experience has shown that optimally staffed teams play a leading role in the successful implementation of the project.