When you have a team of 10 or more people, it can be difficult to keep track of exactly what they are skilled at doing. You want to match and book the right resources to the right assignments and projects. And if a client asks if you have a Japanese speaker on staff, you want to have that information at your fingertips, rather than guessing – and finding out later that the person you had in mind has just resigned and won’t be available.
A skills catalogue is the way that you deal with these challenges. Whether you call it a skills database, a skills inventory or something else, it is simply a way of managing the skills in your workforce.
What is Skill Management?
Skill management describes how you are aware of what your team members are capable of.
Skill management gives you searchable employee profiles so you can quickly and easily find the people you need for new work. A skill management system is a central hub for matching people with the right skills to upcoming client bookings.
The benefit of being able to find the perfect resource for the job is that you can be much smarter with resource assignments. Customers and clients are happier with the team members they have on their side. You can do better scheduling optimization, making sure the right people are assigned to the right work at the right times.
Whether your team is all on-site or decentralized, you can manage, schedule, book and track their activities.
What Sort of Skills Can You Track?
You can use skill management components of your enterprise PSA tool to understand all kinds of skills, basically anything your team members need in order to carry out their client projects. That could include:
- Languages spoken and cultural competency
- Programming languages and technical skills and the level to which the individual has these
- Professional and consultancy skills
- ‘Soft’ and interpersonal skills
- Project management skills.
The great thing about setting up a system that tracks the skills of your team is that you can take it so much further than simply a list of what they are capable of at work.
You can also include:
- Their working hours and availability – helpful for tracking part-time members of staff
- Their experiences – record the individual’s past assignments and industries where they have active experience
- Their professional certifications – so you can assign credentialed employees to clients who request them
- Their interests – while you can’t always match employees to the clients and projects they would personally find more interesting, when you can do it, this type of assignment supports employee morale
- Their work preferences – again, while you might not always be able to match people to their preferences, if you know whether someone is willing to travel overseas or be away from home for significant lengths of time then you can attempt to best match them to right projects when they come up.
All of this information gives you a centralized and easily searchable set of staff profiles. This is invaluable in managing your resource pool and finding the best resources to fulfil your client projects.
It also gives you a standard set of skills that everyone across the business can agree on.
How Do You Get Started?
So you want to create a skills catalogue? Let’s get started!
You’ll need to begin by identifying a list of people for whom you want to record skills. This would be the core of your client-facing workforce.
You’ll also need to define a list of skills and the levels you want to manage for those skills. For example, you could have the ability to speak Japanese as a skill, and the levels could be Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Native. All of this should be fully customizable so you can tailor your skills catalogue to be a perfect match to the services and skills your business provides.
Then assign skills and skill levels to the people in your system.
The final step is to implement a process to make sure that the system is constantly update so you have real-time information to use when matching and booking resources for projects.
It sounds straightforward, but managing this manually, for example, on a spreadsheet, is time consuming and complicated. The easiest way to do all this is to use a system designed exactly for this purpose. PSA Resource Management module gives you all these features and more.
How to Keep Your Skills Inventory Up-To-Date
Creating and populating your skills database is only the start. It should be a living system, regularly updated as your team members gain new professional credentials or skills. There are two ways to keep your resource inventory up-to-date.
First, you can assign a resource manager to manage the pool. They will manage employee profiles centrally, adding their latest assignments, experience and availability. Individuals will need to inform their manager of any new skills they have gained, training they have been on or certifications achieved. These can then be added to their profile.
Second, you can allow employees to update their own profiles. This reduces the burden on your central office staff and resource managers, but relies on employees to actively manage their skills and availability themselves.
Either approach works and the one that is best for you will depend on the culture of your team and your other business processes.
There are huge advantages for being able to manage your workforce’s skill inventory centrally. You get a complete view of your resource pool in real-time. For many professional services firms, it is game-changing to be able to manage resource effectively and get the right people on the right jobs. Productivity increases, client satisfaction rates increase and with that comes an impact on revenue.
How could better managing your workforce’s skills and availability improve your business? Find out how to support effective project delivery through better resource management in our whitepaper. Download the guide now: How to Thrive as a Resource Manager Today.