Karen and Matthew explore the benefits of SFIA to both the individual and the organisation and how organisations are using the framework.
Karen asks Matthew about a case study in the use of SFIA and they discuss the recently announced SFIA V6.
Knowledge of “how to” is one thing, hard-earned experience is another, mastery of a skill requires both. No doubt skills can be learnt, but if I’m in the back of a commercial jet, I still want the pilot to have real experience (in a wide range of conditions), necessary qualifications and the knowledge to manage unpredictable situations.
Having the potential, promise or untested capability is not going to cut it, not even hours on a simulator and passing a multiple-choice exam! I want to fly with airlines that have people like Sully (check out Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in the movie “Sully”). There’s no substitute for tried and tested experience, if a pilot requires 100 hours of experience, then not even 10 pilots with 10 hrs and potential will do!
IT organisations increasingly use process models of best practice to help deliver and manage technology, yet very few systematically assess demonstrated relevant experience of staff to align best practice and technology.
When we use SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) to confirm what skills your organisation, your staff, and your suppliers have, we don’t validate potential and theory, we confirm experience and mastery of practicing the skills and doing what SFIA is describing, many times and in real working environments.
We use SFIA precisely because it is the globally-adopted description of real activity in the Digital, Cyber and Technology dependent world – what you have done rather than just what you know or might theoretically be able to do.
Certification and training often only demonstrates knowledge and understanding, which is important, but you need resources who:
What could be more frustrating than looking externally for talent when appropriately skilled resources could be found from within? If you don’t know what skills you have internally, then the potential for lost time and cost in recruiting increases exponentially. Remember if you are not providing the opportunities to challenge and develop your staff somebody else will.
If you’re sourcing staff based on potential, then you’re going to need to have people internally who already have the skill, and who have time to help the person to gain experience and mastery in that skill. That’s going to take some time. It will cost less to bring an experienced pilot up to speed on a new type of plane, if they have already demonstrated mastery in another type.
This is where SFIA can help by focussing on the application of professional skills and being technology and methodology agnostic, you can build a clear picture of their skill potential for your specific needs.
SFIA makes an important contribution in the selection process and can help your organisation recruit the skills needed. It plays an even bigger part in understanding the skills you already have by providing the common language to describe and build “healthy” balanced talent pools, including:
SFIA contributes to delivering business outcomes by providing insight into the capability of your team, by quantifying the difference between the team you want and the team you have and the means to manage it.
With the appropriate skills and experience, it is relatively straightforward to confirm what skills you have, which skills are needed, and how any gaps can be addressed through development or recruitment.
About the Author: Phil Lovell
Phil Lovell is a positive and motivated IT resource management professional, with expertise in learning and development assessment, consultancy, stakeholder relationship management and resourcing. Combining over 10 years of hands-on IT experience with 15 years IT resource management experience with formal training and accreditation as a SFIA Consultant and a Cert IV in Training and Assessment, Phil has assessed the skills of IT professionals for the purposes of recruitment, professional development and the Australian Computer Society’s certification program. Phil’s key skills also include Consultancy and Stakeholder Relationship Management.
Inland Revenue’s core objective of enabling Business Transformation involves their people, processes, policy and technology.
Streamlined processes, advanced tools and more intelligent use of data will provide Inland Revenue with a single view of the customer and their needs. To achieve this, they needed to have the skills to proactively support customers to get their tax right from the start rather than reacting when things go wrong.
A key challenge for the team was the need to understand the skills required to support not only the existing Heritage systems but also those skills required to support the transformation process as well as the new services platform. It was decided that SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age) was the framework they would need to ensure they had a consistent and structured set of skills to work from.
Inland Revenue engaged BSMimpact to conduct a SFIA baseline assessment across the ICT organisation to understand what skills they had.
This included assessing and validating 300+ ICT staff and producing an organisation-wide report detailing the overall levels of responsibility, outlining skill gaps and providing observations and recommendations for improvement. Each ICT member was provided with an individual SFIA skills profile.
The information from the consolidated organisation report was used to inform strategies for Learning and Development, sourcing strategies and Organisational Design.
BSMimpact also worked with the leadership team to create SFIA based Position Descriptions (Job Expectations) and conducted a series of training courses to further develop internal SFIA expertise and assist People Managers in working with their teams in terms of learning and career development.
BSMimpact were further engaged to help define the “to be” Target Operating Model based on SIAM, and determine the new roles and skills required. The Target Operating Model and subsequent Organisational Design included elements of workload analysis, training needs analysis, transitional support and process modelling.
The frameworks, methods and tools used included SFIA, ITIL, SIAM and COBIT.
“BSMimpact did a great job with regards to the implementation of the SFIA framework within the ICT Department at NZ Inland Revenue. They quickly established relationships at the senior level and delivered a consistent and high quality product at all times. Their consultants have high expertise in SFIA and added significant value throughout our successful implementation in all aspects including assessments, job expectation development and evaluation, training and ongoing support. “
– Don Burns, Principal Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer, New Zealand Inland Revenue
Download the full case study (link below) to view further details of what worked well, lessons learned, and moving forward.
With awareness of the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) growing around the world, so too are the number of service organisations adding SFIA to their portfolio.
Whilst this is great for the SFIA world as a whole, there is the potential for some confusion as to what these organisations are able to offer.
The SFIA Foundation is a not for profit organisation – any monies received go directly into developing the next version and keeping the framework relevant. They operate an accreditation and licencing scheme to ensure some control on how SFIA can be used, marketed and delivered.
If you, or your organisation is looking for SFIA service providers, here’s a little more information on SFIA Accreditation, which gives you an assurance that service providers have a formal relationship with the SFIA Foundation, and have met the relevant accreditation and licencing conditions.
Accredited SFIA Partners
There are different types of Accredited SFIA Partners – some are only licenced to use SFIA content in their tools/products, and others are licenced to provide SFIA Consultancy, with a subset of those also able to offer accredited SFIA training. Any company that offers products or services relating to human capital management and want to use SFIA in the promotion or delivery of those products or services can become a partner.
To gain SFIA Partner accreditation, the organisation must sign a licence agreement, pay an annual fee, and have 2 or more accredited SFIA consultants on staff or under an associate agreement.
Some partners may only have SFIA-based tools or their offerings are mapped to SFIA, but are not licenced or accredited to provide SFIA training or consultancy.
Organisations that award qualifications or deliver training, and only wish to map their offerings to SFIA skills can use a Mapping Licence. A mapping licence does not allow for the provision of training / consultancy services.
Regardless of the type, Partners are valued as contributors and supporters of SFIA and support its continual development. It is worth checking out the SFIA Foundation website to see what type of licence organisations hold, and whether they have experienced trainers and/or accredited consultants available to help you. Some Partners operate globally, others have just one or two resources and operate in a single local area.
BSMimpact has Global Partner accreditation and has been involved in the SFIA Foundation for many years; Director Matthew Burrows is a member of the SFIA Council and was the Design Authority for the version 6 release. Director Simon Roller is also a member of the SFIA Council and was part of the version 6 project team.
A SFIA Accredited Training Provider is an organisation that has had its “Understanding SFIA” course material assessed by the SFIA Foundation against their published syllabus, and is therefore approved to deliver the accredited training course.
Every Accredited course delivered is subject to a royalty fee paid to the SFIA Foundation for each individual attending the course and must be delivered by a SFIA Accredited Consultant. If an individual is looking to become an accredited SFIA Consultant, it is imperative that they attend an “Understanding SFIA” training course by an Accredited Training Provider.
BSMimpact has taken training further than the standard accredited course, and now offers a full suite of SFIA training, including courses focused solely on Role Profiling and Job Descriptions, and how to be a SFIA Assessor. Whilst the SFIA Foundation accreditation currently only defines a syllabus for the “Understanding SFIA” course, BSMimpact offers individuals and organisations a choice, allowing them to focus on their specific objectives and use of SFIA.
Accredited Consultants are required to provide evidence of their SFIA and other relevant experience during the accreditation process to qualify.
To apply, individuals must pay a nominal evaluation fee, complete the Accredited “Understanding SFIA” course (from an accredited SFIA Training Partner) and submit a CV.
As an option, individuals may include a case study, demonstrating evidence relating to a number of areas – for example, human capital management policies and practices, hands on involvement in the skills development process, IT industry knowledge, and/or practical involvement of the implementation of SFIA. For the full list of qualification areas, check out https://www.sfia-online.org/en/get-accredited/become-an-accredited-consultant.
BSMimpact currently have 18 SFIA Accredited consultants spread across the globe, primarily concentrated around our core hubs in Australia, New Zealand, USA and the UK. These consultants are a combination of permanent staff and Associate consultants.
Do your homework!
SFIA really is a great framework and the list of benefits is long – if implemented and used properly. If you want to use SFIA within your organisation, do your homework. The www.sfia-online.org website is a great starting point.
Have a look at the Accredited SFIA Partners and check out whether they are licenced to deliver SFIA consultancy and training, and have Accredited Consultants listed. If you’re not sure, make sure you ask!
Feel free to ask us a question – we’re very happy to provide you with information on our global reach, credentials and experience.
This week I attended and spoke at the ISACA Oceania CACS event in the Gold Coast in Queensland. The annual event is a regular haunt for those involved with Auditing and IT Security, and the event had a great turn out with over 200 delegates attending, plus a number of sponsors.
My presentation was well supported, mainly by those who focus on governance and audit. The presentation looked at how we can map COBIT and SFIA together, and the value of this mapping. We have talked about this before at other events, as we are great fans of both these frameworks, but this time we incorporated elements of Management (ITIL) as well as workload analysis. There was some great feedback from those who attended, as most had not realised the linkages between COBIT and SFIA, and how COBIT can be used to define the core responsibilities within a role and SFIA the core skills to support a role. Many of the auditors had “aha!” lightbulb moments, as they could see the potential value of including COBIT activities and SFIA skills in position descriptions, and using that to ensure that all the core COBIT processes were supported by people within their organisations.
Earlier in the day, I attended a keynote presentation where the ‘T’ shaped roles were discussed. “Mr T”, as us ‘non Millenniums’ like to call him, is an individual who has a detailed set of skills in one area and a broad set of skills in another.
Mr T first got mentioned when we discussed Agile Development, and now is included in DevOps and other operating model variants. Using the mapping between COBITs responsibilities, SFIA skills and COBIT activities, we can see which of Mr T’s skills (punching people – SFIA skill: HPWF) are core versus additional qualities like modelling gold jewels (SFIA skill: WTGN) are important to his role.
After the session, a number of people spoke about the value of this, and one individual mentioned that the presentation made the whole conference worthwhile – great feedback indeed! Most also agreed they would start to use SFIA as part of their auditing activities and discuss its adoption in their respective organisations.
If you are interested in the presentation, just reach out to us and we can send it on to you.
By the way, both the SFIA skills HPWF (Hitting People With Fists) and WTGN (Wearing Tacky Gold Necklaces) are not real SFIA skills, although with version 7 being discussed, watch this space…
Simon Roller | Director | BSMimpact
Matthew Burrows wrote a blog that was featured on the ISACA website, focusing on the area that has grown considerably since the publication of SFIA V5: cybersecurity.
Matthew states that “SFIA works well with the various cybersecurity frameworks and information security standards. However, it covers a much wider scope, defining skills needed across the complete digital information and communications technology landscape. A number of new skills were defined and some existing skills re-worded in version 6 to account for the massive changes that have taken place in this area.
It’s not just about determining the headcount gap regarding the number of cybersecurity professionals, it assists in understanding HOW organisations can build their own cybersecurity capability.
By understanding the unique skills required, organisations can determine if the gaps are in knowledge, role design and/or professional skills. It helps determine who needs upskilling, which roles may require a re-design, and identify the relevant training, mentoring, knowledge transfer and other development activities.
An article focusing on the changes to SFIA in version 6, specifically around the Digital Forensics and Cyber Security space were discussed in an article written by Matthew Burrows for Digital Forensics magazine. The article explains that SFIA works well with various cybersecurity frameworks and information security standards, but covers a much wider scope, defining skills needed across the complete digital information and communications technology landscape.
Matthew explains some of the ways that SFIA helps in regard to digital forensics, cybersecurity and information security, SFIA is being used to:
Once you have a baseline of the skills you have, there is a lot you can do with it:
Download the full article here.
This white paper explores the range of skills that make up a Project Manager role, utilising both the PRINCE2 methodology and the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA).
These insights will help to show that there are other factors influencing what makes a Project Manager “good”, and challenge the statement that “good” Project Managers are hard to find!
What are the barriers to success?
If we accept the PRINCE2 view of the world, and we acknowledge the different activities and skills required to run a project, we see the diversity of skills for a Project Manager is probably one of the greatest within the ICT profession. There are a number of clues that can help us to determine what skills are really needed for each project, and they include:
Given the complexity and the diversity of business and IT projects, and the pressures to time, cost and quality, perhaps the issue is not that good Project Managers are hard to find. We need to be more selective as to how Project Managers are used, and recognise the risks associated with skills gaps.
US-based DTRA – Defence Threat Reduction Agency has one main focus: to keep Weapons of Mass Destruction out of the hands of terrorists and other enemies by locking down, monitoring, and destroying weapons and weapons related materials. DTRA J6, Information Operations, serves as the underlying information technology and knowledge services entity for all of DTRA.
As the IT practitioner’s role is increasingly moving from a strict “technology” orientation to a more collaborate “innovating together” orientation, it was felt that the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) was a good fit to help transition the department from being technology focused to that of collaborative innovation.
BSMimpact were asked to conduct an “Understanding SFIA” training course and following this, perform a SFIA self-assessment using BSMimpact’s online tool.
“Matthew was a great instructor, experienced and insightful in his sharing of important SFIA-driven procedures and practices for world-class IT professionals. And the SFIA concepts appear to be a great fit for what our DTRA J6 is trying to accomplish – transition us to the brave, new world of future IT concepts and practices”.
– Donald Minner, DTRA J6 Information Operations Lead, Quality-Analysis-Synchronization Team.
Click on the link below to read the full case study.
Matthew Burrows joined the ITSM Global Podcast team at SITS15 to talk about SFIA, what’s changing in Version 6 and the benefits organizations can get out of using SFIA!
Matthew Burrows presents a webinar with Accredited SFIA Partner, Learning Tree, in February 2016. In it he discusses how organisations can identify the skills they have and the skills they need using SFIA.
Developing staff skills to prepare for the Department’s transformation to a services organisation.
Land and Property Information (LPI) is a division of the Department of Finance, Service and Innovation. They are the key provider of land information services in New South Wales, Australia, which includes spatial information, titling information and valuations.
Steven Woodhouse, the Chief Information Officer of the Department had created a strategy to turn the ICT department from a traditional environment into a services organisation.
“I wanted us to work as a service organisation within LPI” commented Steven. To do this, he had to set up a vision of what the organisation would look like. In order to see this ‘future state’, they needed to understand their current situation. LPI turned to SFIA to understand what skills they had currently, and to determine what skills they needed in the future.
Download the full case study (link below) to view their SFIA Assessment findings and an outline of Phase 2 – Performance Management.
“We needed to get a flatter, more streamlined structure that allowed for the movement of skills from one place to another, plus we needed to enhance some skills and not worry about others. The performance management component was recognised as a logical next step, where our aim was to make people want to participate in performance management. That’s why we tied our next phase of our SFIA journey in with performance management.“
Karen Ferris of Macanta talks to BSMimpact’s Managing Director, Matthew Burrows, about SFIA, the Skills Framework for the Information Age.
Karen and Matthew explore the benefits of SFIA to both the individual and the organisation and how organisations are using the framework.
Karen asks Matthew about a case study in the use of SFIA and they discuss the recently announced SFIA V6.
The All Things ITSM team catches up with Matthew Burrows at the itSMF Australia Conference in August 2015. Here he discusses the SFIA 6 launch in Sydney, explains the global spread of the uptake of SFIA, where it fits amongst Cobit and ITIL, and much more! Take a look at the video by clicking the link below.
Matthew Burrows and Mike Chad provide an update at the Developing Digital Talent conference (July 1, 2015), on the latest release of SFIA (v6). They share the detailed changes between version 5 and version 6.
SFIA Version 6 was released in 2015. each described at one or more of 7 levels of responsibility. To aid navigation, SFIA structures the skills into 6 categories, each with a number of sub-categories…. check out this 2&1/2 minute video for more information!
Understanding individual skills of current staff at CenSus using SFIA provided invaluable data.
Central Sussex (CenSus) Partnership ICT provides ICT Infrastructural support services for the Horsham, Mid-Sussex District Councils and the Adur-Worthing Partnership. The organisation was formed in 2006 with Adur, Horsham and Mid-Sussex participating. Worthing subsequently joined in 2011. The CenSus ICT team also supports the CenSus Revenues and Benefits Service that provides benefit processing for Adur, Horsham and Mid-Sussex councils.
The CenSus ICT Team has three principal locations (Horsham, Haywards Heath & Worthing) and has been formed from the respective Council teams.
The intention and plan at CenSus was to form a single team capable of providing ICT support services for the participating organisations, both for Business As Usual (BAU) activities and for transformational and developmental projects. To do this, it was necessary to understand the skills and capability of each team member to ensure that the right people were in the right roles.
It was determined that the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) was a framework that could be used to identify ICT skills and understand if there were any skills gaps. BSMimpact were engaged to help CenSus implement SFIA. With the arrival of the new Interim Head Of CenSus ICT (himself SFIA accredited) it had been determined that a skills assessment for the 46 staff involved should be undertaken prior to any possible reorganization of the service. To make sure that the service was able to meet current and future demands in a rapidly changing environment, they needed to know what skills and capabilities were present within the team. This included not only technical skills, but also professional and customer service skills.
“An excellent service provided by a thoroughly professional organisation. BSMimpact’s Consultants were knowledgeable and had sufficient experience to be able to put the information gathered into a suitable context.” – Ian Henderson, Interim Head Of CenSus ICT
For the full Case Study, download the PDF below.
Why is value so hard to sustain? What is the secret to making best practice stick? How do you make process improvement and good governance last when the consultants leave?
Most process consultants talk volumes about “Adopt and Adapt”; the importance of adopting best practice frameworks and then adapting them to suit the business and organisation. The problem is that when most consultants leave the building, the value leaves with them. In order to preserve the value in best practice, we need to embed best practice into the organisation.
SFIA, the Skills Framework for the Information Age is a “people” framework. It focuses on the skills and the capabilities required in supporting good governance, and it is the missing link in governance adoption. This white paper describes a case study that was conducted within a large organisation in 2013. We were asked to perform some analysis against a set of roles. SFIA version 5 was used to both analyse the roles required by the organisation and then rate the individuals currently performing those roles. We wanted to explore the hidden value of SFIA in tangible terms.
There is great value in adopting frameworks like ITIL, Prince2, COBIT and the like to standardise on process and implement good governance. Unless we define the roles effectively that support these frameworks, then people will be challenged in performing their tasks and being effective in their roles. By implementing a skills framework like SFIA, we can better align the skills required for the roles we build. The cost of skills development and career progression can also be justified. If we understand the value of a skill or set of skills, we can choose whether tyo build the capability ourselves or buy it in. We can track where our human assets are, and calculate the return on our human capital.
Finally, by aligning the roles people have to the skills they require, we are much more likely to get them to adhere to the processes they need to follow. SFIA is truly the missing or forgotten framework, and a critical component to both embedding and delivering IT Governance.
Fear of the unknown, or fear of change can upset the balance of any project being undertaken. SFIA, the Skills Framework for the Information Age is a “people” framework. It focuses on the skills and the capabilities required in supporting good governance. This paper outlines the ‘people’ skills required by Project Managers as opposed to the more technical, or tangible skills, plus discusses 3 key areas that must be considered in any project, but particularly for SFIA implementations when the focus is on assessment of individual skills. They include:
SFIA implementations are sometimes met with a lot of resistance because it is seen to be a way to rate individuals, and assess their performance. Quite often it is usually the opposite: organisations want to understand what skills they already have in place, and determine what skills might need developing.
This ultimately saves time and money in recruiting new staff, provides a positive message to current staff that they are valued, and if they do need to recruit, organisation know exactly what skills they need to complement the team they already have. If we can transmit this message to individuals from the outset, perhaps there would be less resistance to change and they might actually get something out of the exercise.
If you are looking to implement SFIA in your organisation, first consider what the benefits are to both the organisation AND the individual, then prepare a number of different messages and use different methods to transmit the message.
You’ll reap the rewards at the end of the exercise if staff can easily see the benefits of the implementation from the outset.