SFIA View: Digital transformation view

Digital transformation view

Digital transformation aims to deliver organizational outcomes such as more profitable business models, more efficient operating processes, greater access to markets, enhanced offerings to users, and new sources of revenue. SFIA is an easy to use and flexible resource to support business and HR leaders who are designing and delivering a digital transformation.

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Digital transformation skills in SFIA

Digital is transforming organizations and job roles to meet new challenges and opportunities.

Planning and executing a Digital business transformation requires professional skills, deployed in new ways, new places and in new relationships - with customers, colleagues and across a broad ecosystem of suppliers and partners.

The Digital transformation skills view of SFIA has been developed to provide a quick start identification of the SFIA skills which are most relevant/illustrative for Digital transformation.

  • This view of SFIA identifies around 50 professional skills related to Digital transformation within the complete SFIA  framework of more than 100 skills.
  • The content of the SFIA framework is reviewed on a regular basis, and with SFIA 7, the content has been refreshed and updated to define the professional skills needed for Digital transformation leadership, management and execution.
  • As with all applications of SFIA; this view should be considered against your specific organizational context and business objectives.
  • The intention is not to draw a hard boundary around these skills or to imply that other SFIA skills aren't appropriate. In practice, once you have familiarised yourself with this view; it is likely that you will refer to the full SFIA framework for additional and complementary skill definitions.
  • The full SFIA reference guide and a spreadsheet version of all skill descriptions available to download. You will need to be registered as a user on the site first but that is a very simple process.
  • There is also an active global ecosystem of SFIA Partners, SFIA Consultants and Practitioners. They are available for advice on adopting SFIA. Full details are available here.
  • If you represent a professional body or a framework owner and would like to collaborate with the SFIA Foundation on the development of additional SFIA views; please contact the

SFIA is not only for IT

Although many of the skills described in SFIA are typically aligned to Enterprise IT organizations; SFIA itself does not assume or prescribe organizational structures, sourcing strategies, functional boundaries, job titles, job descriptions etc.

  • The SFIA skills and competency levels can be configured flexibly to support all organizational types and structures.
  • This is particularly important for digital businesses where the boundaries between IT functions and the rest of the organization are blurred, permeable or non-existent.
  • The modern digital business can easily apply SFIA to organizational functions and roles outside of IT e.g. in strategy and planning, in marketing, in business development, in product development, in change management, in operations and finance,
  • It also means that modern collaboration and working practices can be easily supported, e.g. product-focused technology platform teams, agile and DevOps processes, innovation networks, ecosystems of partners to deliver digital services

How does SFIA support organizations planning and executing Digital business transformation

SFIA is a resource which can be easily picked up and applied to support a number of digital transformation objectives and activities, such as:

  • describing the skills and competency levels needed for Digital transformation programme/project teams including programme leadership and management roles
  • defining target operating models for digital businesses and IT functions
  • rapid identification of both skills and the levels of capability required for a target operating model
  • assessing skills, identifying and prioritising skills gaps in the current workforce.
  • identifying options for developing new/enhanced skills and capabilities
  • facilitating career development paths to engage experienced employees in transitioning to new roles requiring new skills and new ways of working instead of relying only on new, external recruiting
  • identifying, sourcing, and developing Digital transformation skills across a number of specialist areas, not only within IT
  • creating interesting jobs and developing  career paths to attract digital talent
  • helping training & education providers to develop workforce competencies to a common industry-recognised standard

Using SFIA to improve Digital Transformation job descriptions.

SFIA provides a common language of skills and skill levels. It is very flexible and this enables organizations to design their own team structures, roles and job titles. They can then select the appropriate configuration of SFIA skills and competency levels to match. 

  • The SFIA skills for roles responsible for leading, managing and delivering Digital Transformation should be selected based on an analysis of the role's accountabilities and responsibilities. 
  • To provide the necessary focus, aim for no more than 6 to 8 SFIA skills per role (less if possible) 
  • The required skills can be selected from the full range of skills in SFIA 
  • The skill levels chosen should be based on the responsibility levels of the role and aligned to SFIA's generic attributes for levels of responsibility

Focussing on job responsibilities, and the SFIA-defined professional skills and responsibility levels provide a much clearer definition of the requirements of the job. This, in turn, supports people management related activities such as recruitment, skills assessment, professional development, and performance management.

SFIA is flexible

SFIA has been designed to be completely flexible and adaptable: 

  • it can fit seamlessly within an organization's established ways of working or provide support for re-designed people management processes such as performance management, professional development, recruiting, resource deployment, career planning
  • it does not define a fixed methodology or prescribe organizational structures, roles or jobs: it simply provides clear descriptions of skills and levels of responsibility.
  • it allows for skills/capabilities to be sourced internally, externally through service providers or through collaborative partnerships
  • is in active use across multiple industries and organizational types. It’s an ideal framework whether for individuals, small and large teams, whole departments or entire organizations with thousands of employees.

The structure of the SFIA Digital skills view

  • To arrive at a view of Digital Transformation skills we start with a view of what organizations need to do to deliver a Digital transformation
  • The new/enhanced organizational capabilities drive the need for people with new skills and knowledge to deliver and execute the new operating model

For ease of use, the Digital transformation skills view has been split into 4 focus areas based on different aspects of a digital transformation.

  • The groupings are a navigational aid only 
  • Once you are familiar with the content of SFIA they may not be needed
  • Each SFIA skill is present in only one focus area, but in practice, some skills could easily be represented in more than one focus area
  • SFIA skills for individual job roles should be selected appropriately from any of the focus areas and/or from the wider SFIA framework
The four focus areas and the associated SFIA skills and skill levels are listed below:
  • Digital innovation, strategy, and investments
  • Digital leadership, culture and skills
  • Digital & data transformation, change and governance
  • Digital technology enablers; architectures, business models and digital services
SFIA skills -------------- Skill Levels --------------

Digital innovation, strategy and investment

Strategic planning ITSP         5 6 7
Innovation INOV         5 6 7
Emerging technology monitoring EMRG       4 5 6  
User research URCH     3 4 5 6  
Business process improvement BPRE         5 6 7
Demand management DEMM         5 6  
Portfolio management POMG         5 6 7
Enterprise and business architecture STPL         5 6 7
Product management PROD     3 4 5 6  
Marketing MKTG   2 3 4 5 6  

Digital culture, digital skills and capabilities

organizational capability development OCDV       4 5 6  
Sourcing SORC   2 3 4 5 6 7
organization design and implementation ORDI         5 6 7
Competency assessment LEDA     3 4 5 6  
Learning design and development TMCR     3 4 5  
Knowledge management KNOW     3 4 5 6 7
Performance management PEMT       4 5 6  
Resourcing RESC       4 5 6  
Professional development PDSV       4 5 6  

Digital & data transformation, change and governance

Enterprise IT governance GOVN         5 6 7
Information governance IRMG       4 5 6 7
Information security SCTY     3 4 5 6 7
Information assurance INAS         5 6 7
Financial management FMIT       5 6  
Data management DATM       4 5 6  
Programme management PGMG           6 7
Project management PRMG       4 5 6 7
Portfolio, programme and project support PROF   2 3 4 5 6  
Systems development management DLMG         5 6 7
Change implementation planning and management CIPM         5 6  
Benefits management BENM         5 6  
Relationship management RLMT       4 5 6 7

Digital technology enablers

Requirements definition and management REQM   2 3 4 5 6  
User experience analysis UNAN     3 4 5    
User experience design HCEV   3 4 5 6  
Analytics INAN     3 4 5 6 7
Data visualisation VISL       4 5    
Methods and tools METL     3 4 5 6  
Solution architecture ARCH       4 5 6  
Business analysis BUAN       4 5 6  
Business modelling BSMO   2 3 4 5 6  
Systems design DESN   4 5 6  
Customer service support CSMG       4 5 6  
Supplier management SUPP   2 3 4 5 6  
User experience evaluation USEV 2 3 4 5 6

Digital innovation, strategy and investments

Agreeing on target business outcomes and strategies, plans and investments required to deliver.

  • innovation programmes to designed to deliver a p[ipeline of digital business opportunities 
  •  enhancing the digital customer and end-user experience to improve loyalty, revenues, productivity and retention.
  • transforming business processes to reduce costs, improve productivity, integrate supply chain partners and differentiate offerings.
  • deriving insights and analytics to make better decisions, improve efficiencies and gain competitive and vantage.
  • Optimising infrastructure and operations to improve agility, flexibility and cost-effectiveness.
  • Simplify management to reduce complexity, solve issues before they care, gain visibility and control of assets.
  • identifying breakthrough digital technologies,
  • user-centered design,
  • rigorous approaches to product management, planning and allocation of resources.

Digital leadership, culture and skills

  • identifying, prioritising implementing capability improvements using industry frameworks 
  • developing digital culture and knowledge sharing
  • sourcing capabilities and partners to create an effective eco-system with the ability to scale up rapidly to exploit business opportunities
  • investing in people and skills and attracting and retaining digital talent

Digital & data transformation, change and governance

  • implementing effective enterprise governance models for new digital business
  • effective change management
  • building in security to operating models and technology platforms
  • ensuring the delivery of benefits and a sustainable, scalable business model

Digital technology enablers

  • adaptation of processes to build in short cycles and to test with real users,
  • place new digital applications and services into production quickly, reliably and securely
  • using the power of data analytics to generate insights

Why don't SFIA skills have Digital in their name?

Many organizations who are new to SFIA; ask why isn't the word "Digital" included in the skill names, e.g., Digital strategic planning, Digital innovation, Digital product management, Digital marketing, Digital user research, Digital user experience design

This is not an oversight or inadvertent mistake; its a positive result of SFIA's design principles, which are in place to support all parts of the industry and industry trends at all points of their lifecycle.

  • Since its early development, SFIA has maintained a number of design principles
  • These have persisted throughout all versions of SFIA and have been key to it's continued and successful application across the global industry. 
  • Over time, industry hot topics and associated jargon and acronyms have risen and fallen in popularity. 
  • SFIA's longevity is, in part, because it outlasts trends, and focusses on underlying professional skills which are the enduring characteristics of successful practitioners at all levels. 
  • Careers in the industry can span many decades, and it is important for all stakeholders, that valuable skills are recognised and individual practitioners are given opportunities to adapt their skills to the changing demands.

Relevant design principles

  • SFIA provides an integrated view of competency. SFIA recognises levels of responsibility, professional skills, behaviors or attributes, knowledge and qualifications and certifications. It shows how these fit together and how they complement each other.
  • SFIA is independent of technology and approach. SFIA does not define technology, methods, approaches or technical knowledge – these change rapidly but the underlying skills are more persistent. So, for instance, Cloud, DevOps, Agile, Big Data and digital roles etc. can be described using a combination of the SFIA skills.
  • SFIA is updated by real practitioners from the international user base. SFIA is driven by its end users – the content reflects what industry and business want and it is not driven by any single stakeholder group.

Following the design principles; the capability of organizations and individuals needs to be seen in the full context of professional skills, knowledge, behaviors.

Professional skills

  • these are fully described in the SFIA framework including the full range of incremental competency levels covering digital leadership, management and execution

behaviors - these are recognised as crucial to organizational and individual capability. Typically these would be defined and developed within the organization itself - rather than being defined in a generic framework such as SFIA.

  • there is general agreement that a digital transformation must be accompanied by a change in culture if it is to be sustainable
  • in the design of SFIA it is emphasised that, in the workplace, behaviors are likely to be highly contextual and culturally specific to the organization
  • many organizations define their own set of behaviors that are used internally; these are sometimes described as corporate values and vary considerably from one organization to another 
  • SFIA can complement these effectively and some organizations use SFIA's generic attributes which are described in the levels of responsibility. These include many behavioral factors, such as influencing, collaboration, team working, leadership, analytical thinking, delegation, oral and written communication, and presentation skills.

Knowledge - this dimension incorporates the application of specific digital knowledge. These might include for example :

  • disruptive technologies - including social, mobile, big data analytics, internet of things, cloud computing
  • specific methods and tools used to accelerate learning and delivery of business value e.g. product management, software development methods such as the variants of agile and DevOps which are used to accelerate learning and delivery of business value
  • domain knowledge related to the particular industry, customers, suppliers and business platform models e.g. Fintech, retail

The table below provides some examples of the relationship between SFIA's Digital Transformation skills and the specific knowledge required. This provides the optimum way of matching the generic description of skills with a tailored and focused view of the environment in which organizations employees will be operating. describe the new skills/capabilities.

Illustrative Digital transformation knowledge-based requirements 

SFIA skill

Examples of digital domain knowledge specific to the organization or industry

organization design and implementation
  • the digital eco-system for the industry domain and how an organization's required capabilities and skills maybe sourced
  • knowledge of the prevailing issues and opportunities relating to the established industry culture and norms to identify target culture for your digital transformation
  • knowledge of innovation processes/practices and industry-specific eco-systems (e.g. research establishments, consultancy providers, networks of suppliers and partners in fields of interest)
Product management
  • knowledge of product-development models and iterative/agile techniques
  • knowledge of organization specific tools and applications to enable digital product management
  • collaborative digital product management tools which span internal and external product development teams
Methods & tools
  • knowledge of particular methods and tools spanning the range of technical and business activities relating to digital e.g. any of the Agile and DevOps variants,
Project management
  • project governance and project delivery methods for delivering business value quickly from investments in digital transformation
  • knowledge of data sources and analytics techniques related to the industry domain
Emerging technology monitoring
  • knowledge of disruptive digital technologies related to the industry domain - including social, mobile, big data analytics, internet of things, cloud computing

Why use SFIA instead of creating a new stand-alone Digital skills framework?

1. To benefit from using a common language for skills and competency that is part of a connected, global skills and competencies landscape.

  • Use the same language as the many players in the industry (e.g. employers, recruiters, educational institutions, digital professionals, professional bodies, governments, service providers)

2. The cost and elapsed time of developing and maintaining a competency framework is high.

  • The SFIA Foundation has the expertise, track record of delivery, and the global ecosystem to do this. 
  • SFIA evolves to meet real-world needs because it is driven by professionals who are dealing with new challenges and technologies every day.
  • You can learn from other organizations and suggest changes and additions to ensure SFIA continues to meet your business needs.

3. SFIA is the only global, over-arching umbrella skills framework for all your ICT, digital and software engineering disciplines.

  • By using stand-alone or siloed skills and competency frameworks you create friction and inefficiencies in managing people.
  • While a Digital transformation introduces a new context for skills, many organizations will operate in a hybrid world; supporting future digital platforms at the same time as existing applications and infrastructure.
  • SFIA defines a wide range of ICT, Digital, software engineering roles using a common framework of levels; so by using SFIA you can acknowledge the differences between disciplines and contexts for skill while building on the common areas.
  • This enables greater transparency in employment opportunities and across the skills supply chain where partners and service providers are involved.
  • You can bring clarity, identify re-usable skills and professional development paths, and facilitating career paths into Digital roles.
  • Using SFIA for skills assessment and analysis enables you to find more options to close skill gaps. e.g. by Recognizing the value of the skills of seasoned professionals, as well as new entrants and mid-career professionals. This ensures individuals’ skills are not ignored or forgotten because the industry jargon has changed.
  • You can ensure learning and development programmes are focused on delivering work-based experiences not just a certification based on tests of knowledge recall.
  • The jargon associated with Digital can be confusing; SFIA uses plain language to enabling non-technical talent managers to understand the potential for reusable skills and capabilities.

Summary of changes to SFIA 7

The table below describes the outcomes of the SFIA 7 update on digital skills. It is an illustration of how SFIA evolves to meet changing business demands. 

SFIA skills Overall Skill summary Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7

Digital innovation, strategy and investment

Strategic planning ITSP M M         L L L
Innovation INOV H H         H H NEW
Emerging technology monitoring EMRG H H       H H H  
User research URCH NEW NEW     NEW NEW NEW NEW  
Business process improvement BPRE H H         H H H
Demand management DEMM NEW NEW         NEW NEW  
Portfolio management POMG        
Enterprise and business architecture STPL L         L
Product management PROD H H     H H H H  
Marketing MKTG M L   M M M M M  

Digital culture, digital skills and capabilities

organizational capability development OCDV NEW NEW       NEW NEW NEW  
Sourcing SORC M   M M M M M M
organization design and implementation ORDI H H         H H NEW
Competency assessment LEDA H H     M M H H  
Learning design and development TMCR H     NEW H H DELETE  
Knowledge management KNOW NEW NEW     NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW
Performance management PEMT M       M M  
Resourcing RESC        
Professional development PDSV        

Digital & data transformation, change and governance

Enterprise IT governance GOVN H H         M H H
Information governance IRMG M       H M M L
Information security SCTY    
Information assurance INAS        
Financial management FMIT        
Data management DATM M       H H H  
Programme management PGMG          
Project management PRMG L L       L L L
Portfolio, programme and project support PROF    
Systems development management DLMG M M         M M M
Change implementation planning and management CIPM          
Benefits management BENM L L         L L  
Relationship management RLMT M H       M M M M

Digital technology enablers

Requirements definition and management REQM H H   H H H H H  
User experience analysis UNAN H M     H H H    
User experience design HCEV H H   DELETE H H H H  
Analytics INAN H H     H H H H
Data visualisation VISL NEW NEW       NEW NEW    
Methods and tools METL H H     NEW H H M  
Solution architecture ARCH M L       NEW M  
Business analysis BUAN L L       L L L  
Business modelling BSMO    
Systems design DESN H M   DELETE DELETE M M M  
Customer service support CSMG M M       M M M  
Supplier management SUPP NEW NEW   NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW  
User experience evaluation USEV M L   M M M M H  


NEW New in SFIA 7
H High level of change in SFIA 7
M Significant change in SFIA 7
L A minor change in SFIA 7
DELETE  Deleted: not present in SFIA 7