2 Gears

Pronounced "eye-till", ITIL® as a framework is intended to be adopted and adapted. Adoption of the principles of ITIL® is not limited to the IT department: ITSM (IT Service Management) has expanded to become ESM (Enterprise Service Management).

Service Management is about processes, people and adding value. The best practices are put forward as a framework in ITIL® V3 in five subject areas:



SFIA (pronounced Sofia, like the capital of Bulgaria) is a "Skills Framework for the Information Age".

SFIA-7 consists of 110 soft skills that are relevant for these times. Each skill is scored over a maximum range of 1-7: some skills will have a higher minimum or lower maximum. Marketing, for instance, scores over the range 2-6. Each score level is explained by a detailed paragraph: hence the SFIA-7 document runs to 132 pages. The way I use SFIA as a personal assessment is to require the person to achieve all the requirements for a score, not a majority nor "nearly there".

I used SFIA as the principle criterion for grading, promotions and hence rates of pay. The openness of using a recognized externally published framework has been a terrific cohesive force within teams: knowing that promotions granted were based on unequivocally reaching fixed requirements. Teams knew that promotions were fair.

The first five criteria are about levels of responsibility: this increased from the four in SFIA-6 to SFIA-7 by adding knowledge to autonomy, influence, complexity and business skills. My criteria for promotions specified separate requirements for responsibility plus the other skills in aggregate. I once held back a grade 2 for promotion to grade 3 for several weeks because they did not quite reach the required level on one responsibility. Once they satisfied what was missing, the person was promoted and from then onwards I delegated routine SFIA assessments for the whole team to them. One thing I did need to reinforce was that I expected my best people to score higher than me in at least one skill.

The assessment methodology was on an annual basis to have everybody in the team score themselves against the criteria then the delegated person would review the self-assessment before passing to me. I was looking at the individual's strengths, with a view to providing training and mentoring so they could develop those strengths further. As Patty Azzerrello points out in her book 'Rise', it is not efficient to waste time and effort on weaknesses. As a personal example, I have little aptitude for foreign languages themselves, but I understand the technical issues of 'localizing' a software page with different languages. There is little point in training to improve my French, German or Italian, or start to learn Mandarin. It is better that I gain tacit knowledge like the need to flip the layout on a right-to-left language or disable some functionality with an ideogram language.

SFIA can also be used to guide the recruitment process. Step 1 is to create a matrix assessment of the SFIA skills the team or company needs. Step 2 is to subtract what the existing team provides. What remains is a gap analysis of additional soft skills that can be added as 'desirables' to an advert for a hard skillset such Kubernetes.

There may be many skills in the framework that are not relevant to most people. The Head of Marketing in an SaaS company may need to score 5 or 6 for marketing, but it would be unrealistic to also expect them to score even the minimum on the software quality assurance skill. The company will, however, need somebody who does score well for quality assurance.

In a merger or acquisition, a comparison of SFIA scores could be used to determine who to retain, or if retaining both in a role, which has seniority. Preferentially retaining incumbents in the acquiring company when the acquired people are more experienced, more qualified and score higher in SFIA can easily be interpreted as weak management and leadership to all stakeholders in the combined organization.

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