Your Guide to Skills & Competency Mapping

The way in which we structure and design organizations has always been aligned in similar ways. An organization hierarchy, made up of different job titles, roles, and teams. This has worked wonders in the past, but the reality is that organization’s are dynamic, roles are dynamic, and most importantly people are dynamic. 

In order for businesses to become more resilient and agile while better supporting its people, we must think in a more granular way – thinking that is focused on skills data.

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The role and act of skill and competency mapping is to create the foundation and data schema for a skills based organization to operate. One that enables skills data to be understood, measured, and acted on, that isn’t limited by spreadsheets or individual biases

Like enabling any form of automation, data analysis, artificial intelligence, or machine learning, the initial setup is all about long term benefits (sometimes unforeseen).

Let’s take a closer look at skill and competency mapping, how to implement it, and why it matters. 

What is skills mapping?

Skills mapping is often referred to as competency mapping, although similar there are some nuanced differences. 

Skills Mapping is all about building an underlying taxonomy of skills, and understanding how those relate to the needs of different roles, teams, and locations within an organization. 

For example, a software engineer in your organization needs to have skills around the python programming language.

Competency mapping, on the other hand, is adding additional context to this skills mapping data, specifically related to the ability to perform a specific task or skill set. 

For example, a junior and senior software engineer both need to have skills around python, but it’s ok, and expected for my junior software engineer to be less competent in python than the senior engineer. 

Skill and competency mapping are both crucial to the success of any skills-data program. It is also critical in enabling the measurement (via skills assessment), visualization (via a skills matrix), and providing the ability to act on any skill gaps, and skill strengths. 

How can you put skills mapping into practice?

It can be very easy to over complicate the skills mapping process, and we’ve seen many people fail. The biggest piece of advice to anyone beginning their skills based journey is to start small, prove the concept, and then expand into additional departments or entities.

PS: If you get stuck you can always reach out to the Skills Base team too we’re always here to help!

Whether it’s the MVP or wider rollout, a similar process to skills mapping should take place:

1 - Understand skill requirements and create a skills taxonomy

The first step is to understand the skills your people need now, but also augment that taxonomy with skills you might need in the future. There are a few schools of thought here, and in our opinion, your skills should reflect your organization and people needs. 

There are many ways to source and build your skills taxonomy, all have advantages and disadvantages: 

  • Manually source skills data from internal department heads. This is what a lot of people do to try to get the most role-specific skills data and can work in a lot of situations. The downfall to this approach is having to rely on each department head to have the time available to decipher the skill requirements.  
  • Utilize a consultant or third party. When you have the money but are time poor, sometimes the easy option is to bring in a consultant. This is often an approach for the risk adverse. However, with any 3rd party project a key consideration is managing the project properly, and understanding that this is a skills project, not a competency framework – often misunderstood by many.
  • Utilize an open source or paid skills taxonomy. One of the better options available is to augment your skills taxonomy with an already established list. A few examples of these include, ESCO (An EU initiative), O*NET (A US initiative) or SFIA (a paid global initiative)    
  • Utilize an AI or ML driven tool. There is a growing trend around AI / ML driven skills taxonomies that scrape public job data, private data and also infer various skill sets. This will become a bigger thing, but the reality is that there is no global definition or standards when it comes to skills data, so the output from these tools can only be so good (for now)…

2 - Map your skills and competency data

Now that you have your skills taxonomy underway, you need to continue to augment this data. The process now is to establish how these skills relate to different people, roles, teams, and locations across your organization. It’s also about determining the competency levels and targets required to perform specific jobs or tasks.   

3 - Perform your baseline assessment

After you’ve got everything and mapped out, it’s time to get your team on board to perform their first assessment cycle. We suggest our proven structured-subjective™  approach to skills assessment, which utilizes a consistent rating scheme for a unified understanding of skill levels, as well as performing a self-assessment and supervisor assessment.

4 - Analyze the skills of your organization

Once you have completed your first assessment cycle, you can begin to visualize, and act on the skill insights. One example is to utilize a skills matrix to identify trends, skills gaps, and areas of improvement. This also allows you to create a process for how to move forward with this data. It is also important to ensure the momentum continues to keep up with the evolution of your workplace and industry.

5 - Repeat steps 1 to 4

Congratulations, you’ve started your journey to becoming skills based! The secret is to not stop here. You need to continue to understand the skills needed for the future of your organization. You need to continue to add new roles, skills and people. But, perhaps most importantly, you need to continue to measure and assess skill and competency levels. It’s this trend data that will see you being able to find significant benefits (more on this later).

Why does skills mapping matter?

Imagine the layout of your company. Think about the different layers of your organization, the different teams, the individuals in those teams. With even just 50 people, there are hundreds of skills and project groups that can be created. With larger organizations, this turns into thousands. Keeping track of this data, knowing where to hire, where to upskill, and where there are gaps is crucial but impossible without something in place to help you collate it all. Skills mapping helps gather this data and give you both a high level and granular view of the organization’s skills makeup, which can in turn help you make better decisions for the future of the organization and the individuals within it.

How does skills mapping benefit your organization?

As a very simplistic model, there are four major benefits to skills mapping. The main point here is that for each part, the benefits can be for the organization, manager, or employee. 


Going through the skills mapping process, you are able to better determine the specific needs, wants, and desires for each part of your organization. This means that you can be more specific in terms of acquiring external talent. You can also report on and understand skill pathways to acquire talent from within your organization. Ultimately it’s this data that helps to drive better decisions especially from an investment perspective. 


With a specific focus on competency mapping, you can better determine where someone is at in terms of their ability to perform their current work, but also understand what needs to be done to improve. This allows people to see where skill adjacencies lie, and the tangible career pathways to take for their own development. From a manager and organization perspective, it also gives a clear picture into what training is working and what isn’t, allowing you to make better decisions around training investment and ROI.


You no longer have to rely on CVs or specific information locked away in managers’ heads. Instead you can create high performing, cross functional teams that are made up of the specific skills required. From a management perspective, you are able to deliver more value to customers. At an organizational level, you are investing in greater diversity, equity, and inclusion when it comes to work. 


Ultimately the ability to acquire, develop, and allocate talent in a better, more dynamic way, leads to better employee experiences. In a time where retaining the right talent is so important, it just makes sense to invest in mapping your skills and competencies. 

Bringing this all together with skills management software

With hybrid and remote work on the rise, as well as hiring in an employee’s market, there has never been a better time to start mapping skills efficiently and creating an environment where staff thrive. 

Historically, many elements to skills mapping have been held back by spreadsheets. Skills Management software brings together your ability to create a skills taxonomy, measure your skills, visualize gaps, and strengths and ultimately gather insights to act on. 

Create a space where your workforce can do their best and you can make data-driven decisions with Skills Base – contact us for a tour or get started for free today. 

Learn more about skill & competency mapping


Ready to start benefiting from skills management? Book your free 30-minute meeting with a skills expert today. 

A Skills Base Whitepaper

The Skills Base Methodology
A Framework for Skills-Based Organizations and Teams