Competency Mapping: Defining Team Skills and Competencies to Optimize Performance

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Bruna Vasconcelos
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Bruna Vasconcelos
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Competency mapping helps organizations optimize their workforce capabilities to meet strategic objectives. Learn how tech companies use competency mapping to address gaps and develop their staff.
Published on
March 19, 2024
Updated on
May 3, 2024

Organizations in the tech industry are constantly navigating the ever-changing landscape to maintain a competitive advantage. Competency mapping is a strategic tool companies use to ensure maximized efficiency across their workforce. This methodology helps organizations bridge the gap between their current and future needs, providing their engineering teams the resources to respond to the challenges and opportunities in tech.

Accurately aligning competencies to meet the needs of engineering teams drives operational efficiency and project success. Competency mapping allows management to shape their workforce to optimize individual strengths and address competency gaps, allowing teams to meet goals and objectives.

This article considers what competency mapping is, why organizations are using it, and the steps needed to implement it efficiently.

What Is Competency Mapping?

Competency mapping is a process that organizations use to identify, define, and measure the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that employees require to be successful in a role. While many use the terms skills and competencies interchangeably, they have notable differences.

Skills are measurable abilities that individuals can improve through training and practice. In the tech industry, they range from proficiency in coding with a specific programming language to managing databases.

Competencies cover a broader spectrum, encompassing the knowledge and behaviors — alongside specific skills — required to perform a role effectively. For example, coding is a crucial skill for software engineers; the competency of problem-solving builds on that skill when developers must use it along with creativity and analytical thinking to debug errors.

Efficient competency mapping by Human Resources (HR) management can improve the structuring of engineering teams. When organizations place developers in roles that utilize their strengths, it increases employee engagement, job satisfaction, and career growth opportunities. This way, competency mapping contributes to a more positive work culture and better employee retention rates.

Why Is It Important?

The tech industry is dynamic and constantly in flux. When new technologies emerge, they disrupt the norm and demand that companies shift their strategy to remain competitive. Competency mapping allows organizations to take stock of their current talent and develop a structured approach for responding to the evolution of specific job roles in the sector.

Mapping key competencies influences the effectiveness of teams' innovation and ability to find solutions to unique challenges. A culture that embraces content mapping fosters an atmosphere encouraging continuous learning and development, and teams remain flexible and can adapt quickly to changes in tech.

How Skill Mapping Impacts Competency Mapping

Skill mapping is a strategic tool used to identify and develop specific skills that can benefit a company. In the tech industry, these skills assessments often uncover hard skills that individuals can improve, such as implementing advanced cybersecurity measures or learning a new programming framework. Creating a skill map identifies where skill gaps exist and provides companies with a direction on what they can do to fix them.

A competency map provides a more holistic picture that incorporates the abilities in skill mapping but also encompasses other attributes, such as behavior and knowledge in certain areas. Skill mapping can be a vital aspect of competency mapping and provide a solid foundation for members of an engineering team. However, the more comprehensive approach to developing attributes and competencies ensures that teams are not solely dependent on technical proficiency.

Key Attributes and Competencies on Engineering Teams

Engineering teams' key attributes and core competencies incorporate several areas that enhance productivity, adaptability, and innovation. While technical expertise is a competency at the forefront of the tech industry, problem-solving and attention to detail play a significant role in ensuring operational efficiency.

Some of the competencies vital to the success of an engineering team include:

  • Technical expertise: Technical understanding is an essential competency that requires a solid grasp of the programming languages, tools, and frameworks relevant to the project. Tech expertise also includes knowledge of software development practices, data structures, and algorithms.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration involves being an effective communicator and a team player. This competency includes skills that improve teamwork, such as active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution.
  • Adaptability: This is a vital competency in the rapidly changing tech industry. Software engineers must remain flexible to navigate technological changes and meet team needs. A comprehensive understanding of agile methodologies and approaches is also crucial for success.
  • Problem-solving: Problem-solving is the ability to analyze complex issues, break them down into manageable parts, and determine effective solutions. Developers may face problems ranging from debugging coding errors to integrating new technologies with existing systems and must determine the appropriate fix for each challenge.
  • Creativity: Creativity is a competency that drives innovation and allows developers to determine unique solutions and opportunities within the technological landscape. Developers utilize creativity to envision, design, and experiment with technologies. These include software applications, user interfaces, and system architectures.
  • Decision-making: Choosing the best course of action from various choices to meet team and organizational objectives is an essential competency for a developer. Effective decision-making involves a combination of experience, judgment, and analytical skills.
  • Project management: Effective project management requires developers to organize and plan tasks to meet quality standards and timeline constraints. This competency involves streamlining workflows, anticipating potential challenges, and adjusting strategies to ensure project success.
  • Attention to detail: Developers must have exceptional attention to detail to prevent coding errors and create reliable software. This competency is vital for identifying and fixing bugs that could lead to significant problems in the future.

Steps To Create a Competency Map

Strong competency frameworks are essential for aligning the abilities of an organization’s workforce with its strategic goals and operational needs. Effective competency maps outline how an organization will continue to develop as it can utilize competency maps to determine the employee skills, knowledge, and behaviors needed from the workforce to achieve success.

Competency maps also guide individual team members, detailing their professional career development and the expectations for advancement. Implementing this system encourages continued learning and improvement. Developers must continue to develop their core competencies to maintain a competitive edge in tech.

Creating competency maps is often a collaborative effort that requires input and perspectives from several key participants within the organization. Stakeholders, senior leadership, human resources professionals, department heads, engineering managers, and employees can all play a role in the process.

Here are the four steps all decision-makers in the organization can follow to develop a competency map:

1. Determine Objectives

Before creating a competency map, a company must clearly define its organizational goals and objectives. A definite understanding of the organization’s business strategy over the short and long term allows planners to determine which competencies are the most beneficial for success. Once management delineates the company’s strategic direction, they can initiate the competency mapping process.

2. Conduct Analysis

Conducting analysis involves gathering information about each role on the engineering team. This process implicates taking detailed notes on areas such as the tasks, responsibilities, and outcomes of each position to get an idea of which competencies are essential to the success of each role.

HR professionals can conduct job analysis by discussing experiences with managers and employees, shadowing individuals for real-time perspectives, and examining job descriptions. A thorough analysis allows management to understand the relevant requirements of each position.

3. Identify Competencies and Gaps

After completing a job analysis, management can utilize the collected information to identify the competencies to facilitate success in each role. These competencies may be vital for the organization overall or role-specific.

Identifying competency gaps is crucial as it helps create a performance improvement plan to assist team members in reaching their full potential. Leaders can find gaps by assessing the current competency levels of team members and contrasting them with ideal models of each position.

A comprehensive understanding of the necessary competencies and current gaps ensures that HR and team leaders can effectively direct training sessions, mentoring programs, and development plans where they will be most beneficial.

4. Create and Implement an Action Plan

Once management has a comprehensive overview of the existing competencies, gaps, and expectations for each role, they can develop an action plan to meet the upcoming challenges. While creating the action plan, leaders should determine what metrics and software engineering key performance indicators (KPIs) they will use to measure the plan's effectiveness.

The action plan may require reallocating resources, reassigning specific roles, or introducing new training programs. In some cases, organizations must recruit and hire or contract new developers with additional certifications and experience to fulfill competency requirements.

Once management puts the plan into practice, regular performance reviews and feedback sessions can ensure that the competency mapping is effective and enhances team performance and project outcomes.

Competency Mapping Tools and Frameworks

Companies can simplify their competency mapping processes with tools and frameworks specifically designed to identify and develop essential skills and behaviors in their workforces. Integrating these systems into HR practices can assist with their succession planning strategies, ensuring a talent pipeline ready to fulfill open roles. The data from these tools and frameworks can also help in performance evaluations and identify areas for improvement and employee achievements.

Tools

Many tools are available to help organizations with their competency mapping. Companies can utilize more traditional tools, such as a skills matrix or project retrospective tools, to aid their competency mapping. However, more modern software tools are also available to streamline employee performance management. Some of the more helpful competency mapping software tools for engineering teams include:

  • Skills Base: Skills Base is a competency and skills management tool. Organizations can access and record the skill levels of employees to identify skill gaps and plan development initiatives.
  • TalentGuard: This software lets companies manage frameworks, assess skills, and plan upskilling activities. TalentGuard helps organizations execute development strategies and measure their impact on the business.
  • iMocha: iMocha is an online AI-based skills assessment platform that provides a range of tests covering technical skills, such as programming languages, databases, and frameworks. This competency mapping tool allows businesses to assess employee skillsets and compare them to job requirements.
  • HRSG: Human Resource Systems Group (HRSG) is a comprehensive competency management system that allows for creating competency profiles that integrate into various HR functions. It helps address skill gaps, evaluate employee performance, and enhance productivity at the individual and organizational levels.

Frameworks

Frameworks outline competencies that individual employees need to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. Frameworks often include core competencies essential for all employees and job-specific competencies that depend on the role within the organization.

Some relevant competency frameworks for engineering teams include:

  • The SFIA Framework: Organizations in the tech industry commonly use Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) frameworks to assess and develop competencies in areas such as software engineering and IT service management. This framework considers over 100 skills that fall into six categories.
  • The INCOSE Systems Engineering Competency Model: The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) developed this model for system engineers. It encompasses technical knowledge areas such as system integration and systems thinking.
  • The IEEE Competency Model: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) competency models focus on specific skills and knowledge areas for electrical and electronics engineers. These models focus on areas such as technical expertise and ethical considerations.
  • Lominger Competency Model: Lominger Competency Models are frameworks originally developed by Lominger Limited, Inc. HR departments in various industries use these models to assess over 65 competencies that focus on leadership and talent management.

Find Developers With the Competencies Your Team Needs

Competency mapping is a valuable tool that helps organizations get the most out of their teams and engineers. Utilizing competency mapping allows management to proactively work to fill future skill gaps and address challenges causing inefficiencies.

An alternative to the strategic approach of upskilling and developing current employees to meet future needs is hiring additional developers. The recruitment and hiring process can present several challenges, including diverting resources and effort away from strategic business operations. However, partnering with a talent management agency like Revelo can help avoid these challenges and simplify hiring to fill competency gaps with top-tier developers.

At Revelo, we help companies increase their developer competency levels by introducing them to high-quality tech talent. Our rigorously pre-vetted talent pool consists of English-proficient developers with expert tech and soft skills.

Revelo helps match businesses with leading tech professionals and assists with onboarding duties, including payroll, taxes, local compliances, and benefits administration. Our team also offers continued assistance throughout the developer’s tenure to ensure their engagement and retention.

Contact us today to learn more about how to hire talented engineers with Revelo.

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