What is a skills matrix and should I use one in 2021?

With workplaces moving more and more towards 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.

In 2021, 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 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 in 2021.

Definition of a skills matrix

A skills matrix is a grid-based visual representation of the skills your staff have. It maps out staff, teams, or prospective employees’ skills, allowing decision makers to see the mix of a team or group easily, as well as create new teams, find skills gaps, and hire new team members. The use of a skills matrix makes it easy and convenient to quickly review skills in one central location and act upon this data.

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.

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.

Steps to creating and using 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:

1.0 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.

2.0 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.

3.0 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.

4.0 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 in 2021. 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? Consider Skills Base! If you need help getting started, looking into your skills-based technology stack, or stuck on what to do next we’re always here to help.