The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

Job architecture - evolving community practice

This is an evolving document describing practices of SFIA users. Description of the purpose, components and benefits of a job/role architecture

There are various alternative names for job architecture that are used by different organizations. Some examples include:
- Job framework, - Role architecture, - Role framework, - Career framework, - Job structure, - Job classification, - Position hierarchy

Despite these differences in terminology, the fundamental purpose of a job architecture remains the same. It provides a consistent and transparent approach to organizing and managing jobs within an organization.

To simplify the guidance we will use the term "job architecture".

Components of a job architecture:

  • Job families: Grouping of similar jobs together based on skills, knowledge, and responsibilities.
  • Job levels: Hierarchy of jobs within a job family based on complexity, autonomy, and impact.
  • Job descriptions: Detailed descriptions of the duties, responsibilities, and qualifications required for each job.
  • The skills, skill levels and knowledge required to perform a job successfully.

Benefits of a job architecture

Individual employees

  • A job architecture provides a clear career path, which helps employees understand how they can advance within the organization.
  • It also helps employees understand the requirements for different roles, which can help them identify areas for improvement and plan their career development.
  • Something tangible to attract and recruit people who are interested in professional development and career progression.

Managers of employees

  • A job architecture helps managers understand the roles and responsibilities of employees, which can aid in performance management and talent development.
  • It also helps managers identify internal talent for key roles, which can facilitate succession planning and improve employee retention.

Senior leaders

  • A job architecture helps senior leaders understand the overall workforce capability of the organization, which can aid in strategic workforce planning and talent management.
  • It also helps senior leaders identify key roles that are critical to the organization, which can facilitate succession planning and ensure the availability of key talent in the future.

HR & Learning & development professionals

  • supports a number of people management practices such as recruitment, employee development, appraisals, onboarding, attraction, succession planning, workforce planning, internal mobility

Good practices for implementing a job architecture

Why don’t you just tell me exactly what to do?

Organizational alignment

  • Start with a clear understanding of your organization's business objectives, strategies and operating model
  • Ensure alignment with the organization's overall goals and supports its ability to achieve those goals.
  • Support future proofing the architecture.
  • Understand opportunities, needs or pain points - chances to intervene in a way that makes people and skills management better .

Involve the right stakeholders

  • Get input from employees, managers, and subject matter experts to ensure that the job architecture accurately reflects the skills and knowledge required for different roles and that it is relevant to the organization's needs.

Use a consistent framework

  • to ensure consistency across the organization
  • to facilitate benchmarking against industry standards

Create a detailed breakdown of job families

  • Define job families clearly
  • Group similar jobs together (be clear on the principles you will use for grouping jobs)
  • Define the roles and responsibilities.

Create a hierarchy of job levels

  • Define different levels within each job family, based on complexity, autonomy, and impact.

Develop job descriptions

  • Develop detailed job descriptions for each role
  • Design the content/format of job descriptions - aim for something easy to communicate and easy to maintain

Identify skill and knowledge to job families/jobs/roles

Review and Update

  • Regularly review and update the job architecture to ensure that it remains accurate and relevant.

Test and learn

  • For a new job architecture - prototype and test with a smaller group first
  • Choose an area where the stakeholders have a real need and desire to make a success out of this initiative
  • Test the job architecture components by using them to support high impact people and skills management processes


  • Communicate the job architecture and its purpose clearly to employees and managers to ensure that they understand how it supports their work and career development
  • Provide orientation for employees and managers on an ongoing basis - e.g. for new joiners

Maintaining a job architecture

Developing a job architecture is a significant investment. How do organizations ensure they look after this investment. 

  • Organizations end up with an unstructured approach due to a lack of standardization, inconsistent practices, and poor communication across departments or business units.
  • This can result in the creation of too many unique or overlapping job descriptions that are difficult to manage and maintain.

To ensure that the same set of problems does not reoccur over time, organizations can take the following steps:

Establish appropriate, clear governance over the job architecture.

  • This includes assigning roles and responsibilities to ensure that the job architecture is well-maintained and kept up to date.

Encourage regular reviews

  • e.g. Regularly review job descriptions, roles and career families to ensure they remain accurate and up to date.
  • This can be done through regular conversations with employees, managers, HR and learning & development professionals. In the initial implementation you may need more frequent reviews than when the architecture is proven to be effective.

Standardize job descriptions

  • Establish standardized templates and guidelines for creating and maintaining job descriptions to ensure consistency across the organization.

Streamline the process

  • Establish a streamlined process for creating and maintaining job descriptions. 

Monitor the job architecture

  • Monitor and assess the effectiveness of the job architecture, and make improvements as necessary. This can be done through regular reviews including feedback from employees and managers.