The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

SFIA skills-based job analysis - evolving community practice

This is an evolving document describing practices of SFIA users. How to align SFIA skills and skill levels to jobs/roles.

This is a high-priority deliverable for many organisations using SFIA. These guidelines are designed to be non-prescriptive. They are created from the experience of SFIA users from a number of organisations.

By aligning skills and competencies to jobs/roles using SFIA, organizations can ensure that the skill requirements for their jobs/roles are accurately represented. This provides the foundation for skills based people management.

Here are some things to think about for aligning SFIA skills and SFIA levels to jobs/roles.

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

Gather information

Collect the information you need to align SFIA skills and SFIA levels. Here's some ideas.

  1. Understand the purpose, activities, and responsibilities of the job/role.
    • Review existing information, such as job descriptions, to understand key duties, responsibilities, and qualifications required for the role.
  2. Consider how the job/role relates to related roles in the function or team, similar roles elsewhere in the industry, and a formally defined organization structure.
    • Capture what people actually do, rather than relying solely on what is written down.
    • Job descriptions can be out of date and inaccurate - you may need get input from people who know the job/role as it works now
    • Understanding how the role interacts with other teams.
  3. Planning jobs/roles for the future
    • Consider the impact of a new operating model or new organisation structures on the job/role. 

In addition to reviewing existing job descriptions and related roles, there are other sources of information that can be useful including, but not limited to:

  • Interviews: Conducting interviews with current or former job holders, managers, subject matter experts and other stakeholders can provide valuable insights into the actual responsibilities and requirements of the job or role.
  • Workshops: Designing new or changed jobs/roles as part of a group looking at a new operating model. Maybe focused on one job/role or many.
  • Observation: Observing the work and activities of current job holders can also provide useful information about what the job actually entails and how it fits into the organization's overall structure.
  • Performance data: Analyzing performance data, such as key performance indicators or other metrics, can provide insight into the skills and competencies required for the job or role.
  • Industry standards: Reviewing industry-specific standards and qualifications can help to ensure that the skills and competencies required for the job or role are aligned with best practices and current trends.
  • External research: Conducting external research, such as reviewing job postings or conducting surveys, can provide additional insights into the skills and competencies required for similar roles in other organizations.

    By using a variety of sources, it is possible to get a more complete and accurate understanding of the job or role, and ensure that the mapping of SFIA skills and levels is as accurate and effective as possible. 

    Understand what’s in SFIA

    The SFIA Framework

    Additional SFIA guidance resources

    These are part of the eco-system supporting the framework

    If you are completely new to SFIA

    • Understand the design principles of how SFIA works  
    • Take an iterative approach to gradually learn more and more about the content and test by applying skills and levels to the jobs/roles you are mapping
      • The A3 chart and the short descriptions of each skill 
    • You are looking to match the activities and responsibilities of the job/role to the SFIA skills and SFIA levels

      Principles of skills mapping

      Here's some ideas.

      1. Focus on doing: It is important to focus on what the job/role actually does. Knowing about something is an important part of the job, but it is different from the responsibilities, activities, and deliverables that an individual is responsible for.

      2. Identify relevant SFIA level: Use SFIA to determine the relevant level for the job, based on the complexity, autonomy, and impact of the role.

      3. Match SFIA skills to purpose,  responsibilities, activities, and deliverables of the job/role.  Use the content of the framework to identify the key competencies required for the role, based on the level and responsibilities of the job. Select potential SFIA skills for the role.

      4. Categories and sub-categories are a navigation guide only.
        • It is common practice for a specific job /role to map to SFIA skills from multiple SFIA categories and subcategories.
      5. Levelling:

        • It is common practice for a specific job /role to map to SFIA skills at more than one level.

        • Try to avoid large SFIA Level differences within one job/role. This will help to ensure that the job description accurately reflects the complexity, autonomy, and impact of the role.

        • As a guide - if one particular SFIA skill is 2 or more levels different compared to others, it is probably not actually part of the role. Usually influenced by activities of present incumbent of role. e.g. 
          • Skills mostly Level 4-5 but one skill at level 3 – not core to the role, probably covering for team
          • Skills mostly Level 3-4 but one skill at level 5 – probably covering for manager
        • In some cases - where the job/role implies operational duties (e.g. at SFIA level 3) then do not assume that a person who has management level skills can perform the role
        • Some organisations include multiple levels to cover this - so a hybrid manager/doing role may need 2 levels of the same skills
      6. Avoiding "scope creep".

        • Focus on critical skills: Identify the most critical skills and competencies required for the role, rather than trying to include too many skills. This will help to ensure that the job description accurately reflects the key competencies required for the role.

        • A manager does not need to have the skills of all of the people working in their team. 
          • A role can be accountable for the work of the team - but it is the roles that are responsible for delivering the work who need the skills
          • Consider how many skills a CIO level role would need if they needed to have all the skills of all the people who work for them 
        • Why limit number of SFIA skills?: Having too many skills listed in a job description can make it more complex and difficult to understand, reduce focus, overburden employees, and create difficulty in measuring and evaluating performance. When in doubt, leave it out! 
        • Aim for a maximum of 5 to 7 SFIA skills that accurately reflect the key competencies required for the role.

        • Look for a match of the activities and context, not just keywords.
      7. A common root cause of "too many skills" is lack of clarity e.g. 
        • In many roles, individuals will collaborate with others and take part in processes involving many different roles.
        • Being part of a process does not necessarily mean you need the skill. Focus on the SFIA skills that are key to performing successfully in the role.
          • responsibilities of the role - (these are the driver of the skills)
          • the need for the role to understand how other areas/teams/roles work - this is knowledge
          • the need to provide information to or get information from other teams/roles - you don't  need the skills they have
          • the need to monitor other's work or ensure they follow appropriate process/standards - you don't need the skills they have
      8. Job analysis techniques to aid SFIA skills mapping
        • RACI - focus on the Responsibilities  to find the skills
        • Customer map / "give and get analysis" - this identifies interactions and the nature of interactions with other roles/teams that the Service Transition Manager interacts

      Test and learn

      If you are new to SFIA - how do you know if you have got the mappings correct. One way is to create some prototype skills profiles and test them against your target use cases. This is also a way to reduce scope creep regarding the number of SFIA skills profile aligned to each job/role.

      Here's some ideas:

      1. Start with the illustrative roles provided by SFIA as a starting point and refine as necessary.
        • For common jobs/roles there may be 70%-80% fit with illustrative/industry SFIA skills profiles
        • but it's the thinking for the next 20%-30% that makes them relevant to the current purpose.
      2. Start small and be prepared to adjust and realign as needed.
        • small could be the number of jobs/roles you map and also the number of skills you map to each role
      3. Be practical, iterative, and adaptable in the process of creating skills profiles
        • Test and prototype the role profiles with your target use case to ensure they meet your needs.
        • Test levelling across job/roles and career families to ensure consistency.
        • Map training solutions to the role profiles to identify any skills gaps and training needs.
      4. Review and refine the role profiles to ensure they stand up to use.

      "Test and learn" is about ensuring that the role profiles you create using SFIA meet your organization's needs, are practical and adaptable, and focus on the key SFIA skills required for the role. It's important to continually review and refine the role profiles as needed to ensure they are effective and meet your organization's goals.

      Organisational fit

      Independent of specific methods, technologies and suppliers

      • SFIA skill and level descriptions do not reference or mandate specific methods or technologies 
      • But, of course, but these are often a key part of the requirements for a job/role so you may need to add specifics (e.g. technology, method, legislation, sector specifics) to even generic roles in a specific context.
      • For SFIA skills - focus on the activities people perform or the deliverables they create with a technology or in a specific context to identify skills and responsibilities.
      • You may wish to list specific technologies, methods, standards separately on a skills profile for a job/role 

      Job families

      • Ensure consistency across roles by considering the levels of responsibility (LoR) of the set of roles.
      • Strive for commonality in role titles, but tailor them to specific purposes as needed.
      • Avoid creating roles for every SFIA level unless necessary.
      • Take into account any relevant industry-specific standards or frameworks, such as the ITIL, NICE, APS

      Organisation / team design

      • Keep in mind that illustrative roles do not imply an organization or team design, which is a specialized activity.
      • Larger organizations may have specialized roles, while smaller organizations may combine several roles into one job.

      Organisational skills coverage

      • If you have skills mapped for all jobs/roles and job families - then you can perform a structured analysis of all SFIA skill requirements across the entire organisation, functions or teams within the organisation
      • This can provide a good sense check and highlight skills and/or level gaps or duplications
      • This analysis should take a diagnostic (not prescriptive) approach to identify gaps and opportunities e.g. It is unlikely that a single organisation would need all the skills described in SFIA so some skills "gaps" are to be expected

      Updating existing job descriptions

      • A skills-based analysis of jobs/roles can highlight opportunities to improve the content and use of existing job descriptions
      • Communicate the updated job description to relevant stakeholders to ensure understanding of the key competencies required for the role.
      • Use the updated job description in recruitment, development, and performance management to ensure employees have the necessary skills and competencies to perform the role effectively.

      A couple of examples to see if that helps

      Because "projects" are so prevalent in organisations - SFIA Project management is a skill which many roles instinctively apply to their roles. It provides a good example of the need to be analytical to the task of aligning SFIA skills to roles.

      Say - I'm working on a project (maybe I'm a Business Analyst)

      • I create my own deliverables using the Business situation analysis BUSA skill and the Requirements management REQM skill. I am responsible for these deliverables and I need these skills to create the deliverables. And, of course, I need knowledge of how to do business situation analysis and requirements management too.
      • To be effective I also need to understand how projects are run, the terminology used, what I need to do to support the project manager, creating status reports and raising issues
      • So I need to have knowledge of project management (particularly how it is done in the organisation I am working for), but I don't need the SFIA skill for project management because I don't have the accountability/responsibility for execution of the project.
        The project manager role does need the Project management skill - they are responsible for project management activities and deliverables
      SFIA Risk management skill
      • Let's take the same Business analyst and in this case the project has been determined as high risk
      • A specialist risk manager has worked out an approach for risk management and decides they need to gather key roles to identify risks and mitigating actions
      • They discuss with key stakeholders and identify a range of roles to take part in a risk workshop - the business analyst is one of the roles
      • The workshop is facilitated by the risk manager - the are experienced in managing risk management processes and how best to capture risks, assess them and identify actions
      • They will manage the design of the workshop, the outputs of the workshop and manage the ongoing process of risk management through the organisation's agreed processes
      • They will present some of the findings to a risk committee
      • At the workshop the process of risk management is explained, and the workshop attendees are given enough knowledge of identifying risks to play an effective part in the workshop and ongoing risk management
      • Once they have been through this process on a number of projects - the business analyst becomes quite knowledgeable about risk management and how their organisation does it but at no time are they responsible for risk management - so risk management is not a required skill for the role