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Put Competencies to Work with EHP4

My first post last month discussed the fundamentals of managing talent, and I’d like to use this post to follow up on that subject. One of the key capabilities in SAP Talent Visualization 2.0 and Enhancement Package 4 for HCM is the ability to work more effectively and strategically with competencies, assigning them to the positions in your organization and evaluating whether those skills are really available in the organization, particularly among holders of key positions.

One of the first new capabilities companies should be looking at when developing a talent management platform is the ability to link organizational design decisions with competencies, skills development, and talent management. In SAP Talent Visualization 2.0, this requirement is handled by the new Job Architecture capability. Users will be able to design the Functional Areas, Job Families, Jobs and Positions that share similar skill set requirements. An easy-to-use UI allows users to quickly map competencies from the SAP system into any level of these hierarchies, and cascade the competency requirements down to the position, where Succession and other Talent Management processes rely heavily on that data.

The following screenshot shows how a Position can have Competencies mapped to it directly or inherited through a Functional Area, Job, or Job Family in the Job Architecture Hierarchy:

Cascading Competencies in Talent Visualization

By defining competencies at higher levels in the hierarchy and then allowing them to cascade to important positions, HR professionals will have an easier time of managing the distribution of competency requirements in large-scale organizations. Why is this important? Because the better your definitions of position requirements are, the more you help managers determine how to source candidates, evaluate the potential of employees they have, and assess the performance of employees against the requirements of their current and future positions. This makes management assessments more accurate and can keep performance reviews on point. It simplifies the process of creating job requisitions both for managers and recruiters. And it’s one of the ways an integrated Talent Management platform can do more than just automate processes – it can keep management focused on developing the skills in their teams that are the most conducive to success.

Here’s just one example of how a manager might encounter competency data like that above, but in a totally different context – the dreaded performance appraisal document:

Create Competency Goals Using Profile Matchup

In this case, rather than leaving a manager to produce their own interpretation of the skills needed for a position, the talent management platform guides managers to focus on the skills that have been agreed upon as the best drivers of success. And with EHP4, managers can compare an employee’s skill set against competencies required for their current position, or a future position that may be a part of that employee’s career track. Because these competency definitions can be inherited (in this case, to a position called Sales Expert, which would belong to a larger Job Family such as Sales), the effort to define the requirements for each position is greatly minimized.

So you can see that defining positions with just the right mix of skills and competencies adds value to processes managers execute as they manage the talent in their teams. With Enhancement Package 4, applications like Performance Management and Succession/Talent Visualization work more closely in synch than ever before, building off of the job architecture and linking people and competency data with organizational data to build a more comprehensive, actionable picture of the skills and competencies present within an organization.

There’s another, even more important angle to consider when tackling competency definitions – and it has nothing to do with software. How do you know which competencies are the most important ones for your business? And how do you define and describe them so that managers can assess them in a consistent way, everywhere in your organization? I asked my friend and colleague Paul Storfer, the Director of Talent Architecture at Personnel Decisions International (PDI), to provide some insights. Paul identifies a critical risk in talent management projects: if companies choose to focus on the wrong libraries and job profiles, they often end up with a highly automated talent management platform that contains useless or even misleading data. Paul has outlined some approaches for conquering this complexity in a new whitepaper, “From Competency Chaos to Talent Management Value Realization” available on PDI’s website at the URL linked above. It’s well worth your time to check it out. Talent Management is one HCM topic where process automation gets you less than halfway to your goal. Having the right competencies in place and assessing people against them consistently will deliver even more important benefits than all of the automation provided by the software platform. Talent Management initiatives should be planned accordingly – and Enhancement Package 4/TalentVisualization 2.0 offer a great opportunity for a fresh look at this challenge.

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  • Great post Harry.

    If I could just add to this and say that there are a multitude of factors, such as the current economic climate, the aging workforce, globalization, etc., that are creating talent gaps and missing competencies for organizations. When putting succession plans in place, HR planners can match high potentials to positions or job families and see where the gaps are occurring and take proactive measures to fill those gaps and ensure a qualified pipeline is in place. Succession planning can also help companies enact “smart downsizing” when considering layoffs so they make reductions in the right areas and don’t lose key competencies.