Why You Should Invest In Skills Planning

Why You Should Invest In Skills Planning

As we enter the digital age, how we conduct business is changing. Business leaders are rapidly adopting new technology and automation to drive greater operational efficiencies and win more business. We are also seeing major changes in the skills required to succeed in this digital environment, resulting in a growing skills gap for many industries. 

According to PWC’s 2019 CEO Survey, “availability of key skills” moved from 5th to 3rd amongst issues CEOs perceive as threats to organizational growth. And for good reason. 60% of U.S. employers have job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer, costing businesses up to $800,000 annually. 

Skill management has always played an important role in business success. Your workforce, at a minimum, needs to have the right skills to execute the job. Ideally, you want the workforce with the strongest skills to improve productivity, performance, and the bottom-line. 

It makes sense right? Yet, more often we find that companies do not have a deliberate, data-driven approach to managing the skills and capabilities of their workforce. 

With nearly 80% of companies going through digital transformation, you can no longer rely on an outdated, passive skills management strategy.  

If you want to be competitive, you must invest in proactive, data-driven skills planning that will lead your workforce into the future of work. 

How Do Companies Currently Tracking Skills and Capabilities?

To understand where we must go, we first need to look at how we are tracking skills and identifying gaps in our workforce today. Here are some of the common methods we see used today and why they don’t work:

Internal Networking. Managers talk with employees about their skills, experience, and education to gain insight on needed capabilities. For example, when a new project requires a niche skill, managers network internally to find out who may have that skill or if they’ll need to hire someone. 

Why doesn’t this work? 

Internal networking is a very ad-hoc approach to skills management. It places responsibility on the manager to hunt down relevant answers, consuming valuable time. This method doesn’t provide a consistent inventory of skills managers can access for instant answers. 

Delegating Skills Tracking to a Different Department. We see business managers delegate skills tracking to entirely different departments that do not understand the intricacies of what makes their group successful. 

Why doesn’t this work? 

Other departments, like HR, will not be proficient in the requirements of your team. It’s not their role. Managers who delegate to others are devaluing the power of skills tracking. Understanding the current skills and capabilities of your workforce provides you the information necessary to build the best team to win new business opportunities.

Excel Spreadsheets. One of the most popular methods to track current skills is using spreadsheets. Managers leverage a combination of surveys and tables to collect and maintain data on their workforce. 

Why doesn’t this work? 

While the spreadsheet method appears cost efficient, it can become disorganized, time-consuming and out of date very quickly. Managers waste valuable time trying to collect, analyze data and pinpoint problems when they should be focusing on creating solutions. 

Also, spreadsheets can only present static data points, making it very difficult to identify trends and anomalies. Business leaders draw conclusions from patterns recognized in data, not specific data points. Identifying gaps in your workforce is no different and spreadsheets do not provide easy-to-use tools for leveraging dynamic data. 

Complex Enterprise Systems. Many organizations use an enterprise system like an ERP, HRIS, and LMS to manage and track various resources. Managers assume their enterprise system also has the capability to track skills, but come to find that these systems are not designed for in-depth analysis of your workforce. 

Why doesn’t this work? 

The challenge with enterprise systems is that they are expensive, complex, broad, and cumbersome to customize. Thus, enterprise systems can cause bottlenecks and confusion for managers who need to identify the right people with the right capabilities to make effective business decisions. 

As you can see, these methods are often inefficient and lack the relevant answers managers need to drive successful business outcomes. We need a better way. 

Invest in Skills Planning to Optimize Your Workforce and Drive Results

Skills planning is a deliberate, data-driven approach to managing the skills and capabilities of your workforce. This approach allows you to proactively identify skills gaps in your workforce and take immediate action. Skills planning allows you to capture new business opportunities, plan for transformation, and future-proof your business. 

In short, skills planning allows you to plan instead of react. 

Here are just a few things that a skills planning can help you achieve: 

  • Plan for Sustainable Future Initiatives

  • Ensure a Smooth Digital Transformation 

  • Build Dynamic Teams That Win Business and Get Results

  • Retain and Attract Experts To Elevate Your Competitive Advantage

How To Get Started With Skills Planning 

Skills planning leverages a core tool called a skills inventory. What is a skills inventory? It’s a skills database that provides a snapshot of the current skills and capabilities of your workforce. A skills inventory helps you recognize skills gaps and provides a clear vision for how your workforce needs to change or grow. 

Related Post: What Are The Business Benefits of Having a Skills Inventory?

Skills inventories are meant to be dynamic. As your company evolves so should your skills inventory. That way when the next business opportunity presents itself, you have a clear understanding of what your company is capable of achieving. 

To develop an effective, dynamic skills inventory, you should strive to have these 3 characteristics. 

Skills Inventory List: 

1 | Use a Centralized System 

Avoid disorganization and inefficiencies by housing your skills inventory in a centralized, accessible system. Employees should be able to access their surveys and results easily and managers shouldn’t need to hunt down answers. The goal of a skills inventory is to provide data at the fingertips of managers so they can make instant, informed decisions.

2 | Provide Instant Access To Relevant Insights

You should maintain a dynamic skills inventory that provides instant access to relevant answers. Managers can make future decisions based on living and breathing data rather than historical, static data. They can plan for expansion and win more business all by having accurate, current information at their fingertips. 

3 | Leverage the Power of Visualizations

While spreadsheets provide an organized repository for data, managers must be able to easily interpret that data to make timely business decisions. Sorting through rows of ratings and analyzing tables in Excel can be complex and time-consuming. 

Visualizations empower your managers to easily and quickly interpret gaps so they can spend more time developing great solutions and driving action. Visualizations are also dynamic. You can identify changes more easily, so not only can you track your employees' skills but their growth as well. 

Related Post: 6 Steps to Use Visual Data to Build Effective Employee Growth Plans

The skills gap will continue to grow and threaten the current success of many organizations as we move further into the age of digital transformation. How business leaders address and prevent these gaps within their own workforce will in large part determine the future success of their organization. As the way we work changes, so should our approach optimizing our workforce. Lead your company into the future of work, by Investing in skills planning today.

Ready to invest in the future of your workforce?

Learn how Visual Workforce can help you discover and optimize the skills and capabilities of your people, teams, and projects.


About the Author: Cynthia Sewart, Head of Product

About The Author

Dave Ingram, Founder

Hi, I’m Dave and I am the founder of this awesome company. I go to work every day surrounded by superstars. We deliver a solution, driven by real data, that empowers companies and people to achieve their corporate and professional goals by helping them find and bridge skill gaps. The positive responses we are getting are thrilling and motivating and push me to find more companies to help.


Sign up to receive updates and announcements from Visual Workforce.

Related Posts

Allison Davis