Your HRIS Wasn’t Built for Technical Competency Management

Managing technical competencies and skills across the organization can be a daunting, seemingly impossible task. Employees throughout the workforce — those on the front lines and in the C-Suite — need access and visibility into the status of these business-critical skills. With a multitude of Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) available, how do you navigate to a solution that grants visibility, and meets the rigorous needs of tracking and validating technical competencies for the business?

To manage technical competencies effectively, your system should meet specific requirements. Once these are understood, they provide great clarity and direction for the team charged with finding a solution. But here’s the catch, classic HRIS tools like Oracle, Workday, SAP SuccessFactors, or Cornerstone can’t meet these requirements.

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Operational Skills Management Is an Essential Business Imperative

Learn why the traditional approach to skills and competency management won’t work for environments with highly technical skills. 

Requirement 1: Continual Technical Competency Assessment

A major functionality gap of a classic HRIS tool in managing technical competencies is the frequency of assessment. HR systems are designed to manage performance reviews annually for all individuals across the organization in a synchronous lock-step fashion. However, assessing technical and operational skills is a constant, continuous, asynchronous, individual, and ever-changing business process and one that should be shared across Human Resources, Operations, and Learning and Development teams. HRIS tools lack the functionality, and HR lacks the people resources needed to staff and support a continuous assessment model for technical competency validation.

Requirement 2: Granular Data Insights for Skills

Classic HRIS tools do a good job managing, maintaining, and controlling employee/contractor data associated with Employee Locations, Job Family and Function, and Organization and Department codes. This model keeps data integrity issues to a minimum, and assigning high-level skills based on this data is easy and can be automated. 

However, to be successful, technical skills and competency management requires a much greater level of detail for skills than the data model above supplies. A single job code may have many technical aspects to it. 

For example, a job code for a Field Operator Level 2 for an oil and gas company defines seniority and possible pay grade, but the individual could work offshore or onshore doing workovers or completions. Each of these has a different skill set needed to show competence and capability. Similarly, the job code of a Machinist in a manufacturing plant defines salary and position, but which line or machine has the individual proven competence for? 

In the classic HRIS tool, access to this next level of data — the skill groups associated with each job location, equipment, customer, department, etc. — isn’t possible, and attaching this information to a job code would overwhelm the employee and manager, and dilute the overarching data points executives need to see. But this next level of data is important and allows employees to see the skills required of them for their current job roles, other opportunities within the same job role, and growth possibilities.

Learn how Kahuna helped a leading Fortune 500 organization standardize their manufacturing training, skills, and operational processes with validated skills data.

Requirement 3: Flexibility in Assessment and Assignment of Technical Competencies and Skills

Managing a team of technical line employees moves at a pace HR and HRIS platforms can’t keep up with. Line managers need access to a skills management tool that enables flexibility in how skills are created, assigned, and assessed. Having the ability to create skills based on specific localities or move employees to different skill groups within a job helps with reskilling, upskilling, or cross-skilling initiatives to close skill gaps and prepare for turnover in a dynamic environment. 

For example, an organization has an overview of Lock-Out Tag-Out training and different variations of requirements depending on the equipment location. It doesn’t make sense to train every employee on every training, nor does it make sense to believe that the general overview will suffice for all equipment training. Managers need the ability to create, assign, and assess supplemental training at the equipment and location level.


Requirement 4: Identification of Subject Matter Experts as Assessors

Rarely do those with the knowledge to assess and sign off on technical competencies have this as their only job. Most often, they have a full-time job that consumes their time and then they provide training and assessments on the side. 

There is no place in a classic HRIS to identify these subject matter experts (SMEs) or store this information, nor is there a formal HR process to identify and assign these individuals to specific skill sets for assessment. 

A system that allows managers to document and codify this tribal knowledge into logical assessor pools by skill set, brings ownership of these skills to the level where it is most known and understood. This bypasses the HR bureaucracy of updating HR data. It also provides executives with the right information to plan for current and future knowledge gaps amongst SMEs in the same way managers can use the data to plan for cross-training or filling skills gaps across their teams.

The top skills management platform tracks workforce skills, competencies, experiences, and knowledge, enabling leaders to continuously evolve the workforce to meet business needs.

Requirement 5: Configurable Reporting Structures

Often, an individual employee is assigned to a different location, plant, rig, machine, or unit temporarily. The HR manager who will complete the performance review at the end of the HR cycle will not change. However, during the temporary assignment, the employee will need to be competent in new skills and therefore, be assessed by different assessors. 

From the manager’s perspective, accessibility to this data is empowering. When searching for the right employee to fill a spot in a new location or project, they can easily search for and select individuals already skilled in the desired area, or select someone who needs to further progress their skills. Over the course of the assignment, leadership and assessors can collaborate around the skills of this individual within the assessment itself, while also providing input into the formal performance review.

Requirement 6: Streamlined and Integrated Documentation

Across the organization, technical competency data is documented in learning management systems, compliance tools, scheduling and ticketing systems, among others. Connecting and cohesively reporting on these data points is a key enabler of making more informed workforce decisions, but it’s a key failure point of a traditional HRIS tool.

  • Learning management systems provide formal and on-the-job training (OJT). Dovetailing this information into the technical skill assessments, while adding job experience, evidence, transcripts, and resumes provides a holistic view of technical skills for an individual, team, and organization.
  • Scheduling and ticketing systems track what resources are deploying to what job and when. Integrating this information with data about which employees are deployable based on their skill sets, ensures a more reliable and efficient project team.
  • Compliance systems vary across the customer spectrum. Interfacing technical skills data with compliance data enables managers to coordinate job, audit, and regulatory requirements with workforce skills data.

By integrating technical skills and competency data from across the organization’s technology stack into one single skill and competency management system, reporting can be done in a more comprehensive manner. Leaders can simplify the process of coordinating skills and building workforce capability with customer needs, business goals, and regulatory requirements.

kahuna integrates with your hr tech stack

Technical Competency Management Needs a Dedicated Platform

Managing technical skills requires unique functionalities in a system that a classic HRIS tool cannot provide. Understanding these limitations is key to successfully solving the skills issue within the organization. Dedicated skills management software can:

  • Complete continuous asynchronous assessments
  • Provide granular skill insights within a flexible data model to meet operational needs
  • Enable configurability with assignment, assessment, and reporting structures
  • Integrate cross-functionally with the technology stack to streamline skills and operational data

The absence of these qualifications in a classic HR system is why this technology will continue to fail at solving the skills problem within the organization, and why a skills management platform is the solution.

Connect with our skills advisors to learn more about Kahuna.

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