T-shaped professionals working with HR to harness the true benefit of technology

by External04 Dec 2013
With the role and influence of IT increasing in many organisations, there is a need for HR teams to help ICT employees with deep technical skills to develop into 'T-shaped professionals' with the ability to effectively collaborate with other departments. Mal Shaw outlines how this can be done.

The role and influence of IT is becoming increasingly pervasive, with more and more non-IT executives making IT-related decisions as they try to leverage technology’s business-enabling capabilities. This presents a particular challenge for the senior management team in any organisation.

In this world of changing service delivery models, where IT implementations are typically critical to project success, there is a need for HR teams to help ICT employees with deep technical skills to develop into T-shaped professionals with the ability to effectively collaborate with other departments.  

By gaining the necessary skills to manage large projects that will impact all end users in the organisation, as well as having the capabilities and confidence to deliver on business objectives, technical employees on the right path to becoming T-shaped professionals can ultimately benefit everyone in the organisation.

The first step in the process is for HR to be able to clearly assess and identify current skills and capabilities before the right learning interventions, such as project management training, can be arranged. As organisations today are looking closely at their Return on Investment (ROI) from projects to people, it is critical that a solid competency framework can match the skills of the workforce to the demands of the organisation.

By using a comprehensive set of best practice competencies as a benchmark, an integrated assessment tool provides clarity and aids HR in the management of recruitment and the training and ongoing development of staff in specialised areas such as ICT. This approach uses standardised, industry-recognised definitions of information technology and incorporates various forms of practitioner competency assessments including self-assessment, knowledge and skill assessment, and line management input. The output from these assessments can provide the ICT professional and their managers with relevant skill gaps, training recommendations, learning pathways and competency outcomes. In addition to this, it can also provide HR with an assessment of workforce capability which can assist the organisation to effectively plan and manage IT programs, highlight gaps in skill and capabilities, leverage internal resources, manage talent and influence the training spend.

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is recognised throughout the world as a practical and extensive framework that identifies the professional skills needed in information technology and associated professions.

SFIA allows ICT individuals to identify their current relevant skills and the level achieved against these skills, offering an excellent way to focus on Continual Professional Development (CPD) plans, enhance their resume and assess future training and development needs.  

As the ICT sector has become more complex and critical to the success of projects and people, it is beneficial for HR to ensure that the people with the right skills are assigned to the right job roles, and the broader non-technical capabilities of its IT team are developed to support the organisation more effectively.

About the author

Mal Shaw is the CEO, DDLS