What is a skills matrix? [FREE Excel Template]

With workplaces embracing flexible working styles, remote opportunities, and global footprints, as well as employees asking for clear career progression and communication, keeping track of staff skills and knowledge is essential. Skills analysis has never been more important, and a skills matrix is a great way to visualize skill gaps and strengths.

Organizations can have hundreds, if not thousands, of skills and people across different geographic locations. It’s still important to visualize these skills via a skills matrix, but the process needs to be automated to free up time for creating reports so that time can be invested in analyzing the data at hand and acting on those insights.

Skills matrices are nothing new but have generally been locked away within the HR function. The changing nature of skills (granularity, dynamic nature, and a workforce that isn’t as rigid), means that the rapid identification of these skill gaps and strengths is critical to informing decisions across a business.

What is a skills matrix?

A skills matrix is a tool used to map out a visual representation of the skills and capabilities of employees. It’s laid out in a grid format, making it simpler to assess and evaluate team capabilities at a glance. Cataloging the abilities of individuals or teams, allows leaders and decision-makers to easily assess the mix of skills and capabilities in a team or group, create new teams, identify skill gaps, and assess recruitment needs. Empowering managers and organizations to make informed choices for strategic workforce planning, resource allocation, and recruitment decision-making.

A skills matrix is also often referred to as a competency matrix, however, they aren’t the same thing. Skills and competencies are related but there are key differences between the two, for the purpose of this article we will be covering the specifics of a skills matrix and skills management.

What is a skills matrix used for?

A skills matrix is used for identifying the skills, competencies and proficiency levels within teams and the wider organization. It helps with:

  • Project Planning: Facilitating better team composition and project assignment based on skill sets, assessing whether a team has the necessary skills to complete a project successfully, and identifying when additional talent is needed.
  • Team Formation: Facilitating the creation of new teams with complementary skills for specific projects or initiatives, ensuring each team is able to handle their assigned tasks.
  • Identifying Skill Gaps: Highlighting areas where skills may be lacking in a team, department or the broader organization
  • Resource Allocation: Ensuring optimal assignment of tasks based on individual skills and capabilities, enhancing overall productivity.
  • Cross-Training: Identifying opportunities for effective upskilling, reskilling and cross skilling skill development to enhance team versatility.
  • Workforce Planning: Planning for future workforce development and strategic talent management. Informing learning and development programs by highlighting areas for skill enhancement across teams.
  • Strategic Hiring: Guiding recruitment efforts to fill specific skill gaps, making hiring more targeted and effective.
  • Career Pathing: Helping employees understand potential career paths within the organization and aligning their development with organizational needs.

How a skills matrix benefits different parts of the business

Reporting and analyzing skills should be a staple of any industry or business type. Within these businesses there are several core functional areas where rapidly understanding skill gaps and strengths is important, including:

Hiring & Recruitment

Quickly see the skill gaps and strengths at a team or organizational level. This data can be used to support decisions about the current business skill landscape, and support the investment and justification to hire a certain skill set for now or in the future.

Training & Learning

Get a baseline of skills and competencies of people or teams across the business. Use this visualization to see comparable skill levels, and set pathways for people to complete courses and learnings to improve a skill set over time.

Training & Learning

Get a baseline of skills and competencies of people or teams across the business. Use this visualization to see comparable skill levels, and set pathways for people to complete courses and learnings to improve a skill set over time.

Workforce Planning

Visualize the current skill makeup of project teams to see if it meets a customer brief, and ensure the skill set is there to add value to customers and drive revenue.

Internal Mobility / Employee Experience

Give people the ability to see where they compare with their peers. Ensure they meet the competency targets you set, but also give people the opportunity to join different teams that align to their skill set, and find coaches and mentors who are adept in certain skills.

How to create and use a skills matrix

Whether you’re using software, pen and paper, or a skills matrix tool, the steps to create a skills matrix is fairly consistent:

Step 1: Build a taxonomy of skills

The first thing you need to do to create your skills matrix is put together a list of skills for your team, workforce or organization. This underlying dataset is the foundation to your broader skills management strategy and is critical to informing many decisions, and applying the next crucial steps.

Step 2: Invite your team

Next, you want to identify who within your team or organization needs to be a part of this process and then associate them with the relevant skills. At this stage it’s also important to also identify the teams, roles and geographic locations that they belong to — as it will help with reporting in the long run.

Step 3: Assess your team on those skills

The assessment process is critical and provides the actual data that you need to define skill levels. Skills Base advocates its structured-subjective™ approach to skills assessment involving the employee self assessing their skills and interests.

Step 4: Report with a skills matrix

Finally, when you have this data in place, and your team is beginning to assess their skill levels, you can automatically report on this skill level and competency data in the form of a skills matrix. Whether it’s creating an employee skills matrix, a skills matrix for a team, or a large skills matrix of the organization’s skill set.

The benefits of using a skills matrix tool is that when you get the underlying data right, build up a rigid assessment process, creating your skills matrix can be completed in seconds.

Why use skills matrix software? Scale, Integrity, & Agility

We have already touched on a few reasons why skills matrix software can be a great option if you want to implement a skills matrix in your organization, but there are many more benefits over the more manual options people have traditionally used.

Many people ask why Excel isn’t the best option. The explosion of skills data, agility required and decisions made means that spreadsheets just can’t keep up. The process needs to be automated, and it needs to be a part of a larger skills management strategy that focuses on your skills taxonomy, skills assessment processes, and skills that are mapped to projects and training. You also need to be able to create skills matrices in real time. Using software means this process is entirely streamlined and laid out for you.

Looking for a skills matrix tool?

Our skills experts are here to help you make it a reality — Book now for a no obligation meeting.

Understand Your Gaps: A Free Skills Matrix Excel Template

If you’re not quite ready to invest in dedicated skills management software but still want to start implementing a skills matrix, we’ve got you covered. To help you get started, we offer a free Skills Matrix Excel template. This template is a great place to start if you have never used a skills matrix before or need a good base to build from. It serves as an introductory tool, allowing you to begin mapping out your team’s skills and identifying key areas for development.

By filling in your team’s details, our downloadable spreadsheet will give you a better understanding of your employees’ skills so you can find the gaps and opportunities in your team. As with any manual matrix, this does have its limitations but it is a great way to familiarize yourself with tracking and auditing skills.

Image of the free skills matrix template to download

Find your skill gaps now

How to use the free skills matrix template

The free template is designed to give you the basics required to start your journey on building a skills-based company. Using it is easy:

  • Add team member names in the relevant column
  • Add the required skills for either a particular role/process or skills required for the whole team to adequately function
  • Adopt the predefined rating system and evaluate your team members on their competency levels of current skills, as well as their interest level in each skill
  • Review the information gathered to easily view and act on the areas of strength in your staff and any skill gaps.

These steps can also be found in the Excel template, along with further information around how to make the most of this skills matrix tool.

What to do once you have outgrown the template

While this template is useful, it is also designed for small teams and can be quite manual, as well as requiring version management to ensure sharing does not result in missing or incorrect data. When you want to move on to something that offers speed, automation, and ease of sharing, as well as the ability to scale with you, there are lots of great options. In fact, we even have a free option in our training matrix software that is perfect for smaller teams and can grow with you.

Over to you

Getting started with a skills matrix can be quite eye-opening, especially if you’ve never visualized your team’s skills this way. If you’re just beginning or working with a small team, our free Excel template can be a great starting point. It’s simple, straightforward, and gives you a clear snapshot of where your team stands today.

However, as your needs grow and become more complex, you might find this manual method limiting. Lacking the scalability and depth required for effective skills management. That’s when Skills Base can step in with a more advanced solution that grows with your organization.

Ready to take the next step? Explore Skills Base’s full capabilities and see how we can help you keep pace with change and prepare for the future.


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

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