A Complete Guide to Building an IT Skills Matrix

When managing a technical team, you will face a number of challenges. The scarcity of top-tier talent in contrast with the increasing demand for expertise in emerging technologies like Cloud Computing and AI poses a significant dilemma. There is also increasing pressure on IT teams to deliver projects with greater efficiency which is why managers must look for efficient solutions on an urgent basis.

How can managers deal with this increasing pressure?

Now more than ever, managers must possess a crystal-clear understanding of their team's
competencies. As IT systems become more intricately connected, any deficiencies in skill sets harm the team’s performance. A lack of skills can also make it difficult for the team to deliver the project on time and in a cost-effective manner.

Taking a panoramic view of your team’s skills will help you attract top talent and also arrange for their continuous development to build the highest-performing team possible.

The Role of an IT Skills Matrix

The skills matrix is a visual aid that shows the tasks and proficiencies required for specific roles, along with the current competency level of each team member for each task. This matrix is the most integral component of your talent management strategy. Without it, getting an insight into your team’s capabilities, identifying skill gaps, and making growth plans and effective strategies become challenging tasks.

While all managers across various fields stand to benefit from this tool, industries like IT, with its fast technological evolution, necessitate a more frequent review of skill assessments. If you are prepared to make the investment, here is how you can use skills matrix software to construct your own IT skills matrix.

Stage 1: Define Roles, Skills, and Proficiencies

Before diving into data collection, it is important to address three basic questions:

  1. What are the roles within my team?
  2. What skills are essential for these roles?
  3. What proficiency levels should employees attain for each skill?

These questions serve as the foundation for setting goals and conceiving your ideal team composition. These questions will help you establish a clear baseline and you can get an idea about your current standing against your desired state. This will ultimately pave the way for targeted skill development initiatives.

Stage 2: Gathering Data from Various Sources

Once roles, skills, and proficiencies have been established, the next step is data collection. The method you employ depends on whether the focus is on hard or soft skills.

Hard skills, such as coding or database management, are clearly defined and measurable. Gathering data on hard skills can be achieved through tests, certifications, education, and resumes. On the other hand, soft skills, like communication and collaboration, pose a greater challenge in terms of definition and measurement. However, they are crucial for employee development. Surveys incorporating multiple perspectives are necessary to gather data on soft skills. For instance, alongside an employee’s self-assessment, it is valuable to have a manager provide input. This multi-perspective approach helps remove bias.

After data collection, the groundwork is laid for constructing skills matrices customized to your specific needs and objectives.

Stage 3: Selection and Construction of Skills Matrix

There are various approaches for developing skills matrices. We will discuss some examples below.

The Individual Skills Matrix

In this context, the Individual Skills Matrix enables a comparison between an employee’s existing skill set and proficiencies and the desired standards for their role. This matrix is very useful in identifying skill gaps or strengths in an individual's capabilities. The information gained can inform the development of customized training plans. It can also help with the allocation of project leadership roles based on identified strengths, and the facilitation of more impactful performance reviews which are conducive to employee growth.

The Role Skills Matrix

This form of skills matrix is suitable for situations where multiple employees hold identical roles. For instance, in a team of data engineers or IT project managers, this matrix allows for the identification and comparison of current skill sets within the group.

Here, three questions are addressed:

  1. Are there any significant weak spots within the group?
  2. Do considerable skill gaps exist across the entire role?
  3. What are the collective strengths of the team? Where are areas for improvement?

Through the role skills matrix, answers to these questions can be obtained, aiding in the development of strategies to tackle identified gaps.

The Project Skills Matrix

This type of skills matrix is helpful in assembling a high-performing team suited for a specific project by using a data-driven approach. In the beginning, the roles, skills, and proficiencies necessary for the project are determined. Then, individual team members' skills matrices are compared against the project’s requirements to determine the best fit for each role.

While more time-intensive, the project skills matrix has advantages such as:

  1. Eliminating guesswork in team selection for projects.
  2. Enabling data-driven decision-making.
  3. Enhancing team performance even before the project is started.

The Team Skills Matrix

This matrix provides a report on the proficiency levels in various skills within an IT team which shifts focus from individual proficiencies to the collective proficiency of the team.
The team skills matrix serves to:

  1. Identify any gaps in the team’s skill set.
  2. Facilitate the selection and successful bidding of projects per the team’s strengths.
  3. Optimize the allocation of resources for recruitment and training by focusing on areas with the highest return on investment.

Stage 4: Assessing Gaps and Creating a Strategy

Having constructed your skills matrix, the final stage involves analyzing the data and making an
actionable plan. Data gathered from the skills matrix can influence decision-making in various ways. Irrespective of the nature of the action plan, it is important to identify gaps between current and desired capabilities. One method to highlight these gaps visually is by using color-coded representations within the matrix.

Another way to do this is to utilize data visualizations. For instance, a double bar chart can effectively illustrate gaps within a team skills matrix. You can adopt any of these approaches and recognize skills gaps in order to take subsequent actions. These actions can range from recruitment drives and the implementation of training programs to the reorganization of teams.

If you want to simplify the entire process of building an IT matrix, you can always use skills matrix
software. It is best to leave this complicated task in the hands of the experts, while you sit back and enjoy the fruits of this amazing invention!

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