It’s “Tough at the Top” for New CIOs – So Try SFIA


Let’s talk about the benefits of SFIA. Congratulations! You’ve reached the top – now all you’ve have to do is to stay there and ensure your success. However, you can’t do everything on your own, despite the technology and automation. You’re going to be reliant on others, in an IT world which some joined because they don’t like people very much – often preferring to interact with the technology rather than the less-predictable and more-challenging aspects of “human resources!” As CIO, you need to know what you’ve got at your disposal – what knowledge, skills, and experience do you have in your team? Do you have gaps in critical areas, such as cyber security? Can you cope with the ever-changing requirements and environment – cloud, digital, big data, agile, information security, data protection, quality, IT service management (ITSM), multi-sourcing, compliance, and everything else?

Importantly, do you know what you need in order to survive, and hopefully thrive?

Here’s where SFIA, the “Skills Framework for the Information Age” steps in.

Step one is to find out what skills you have now. Even if your strategic vision isn’t clear, you need to know where you’re starting from. Perform a SFIA baseline assessment to confirm the skills, and the level of those skills, across the organization. You can achieve a baseline in only a few weeks, and without significant cost or disruption. You can pilot it with a smaller group, if you like, to test and fine tune the approach, or you can push ahead with everyone.

The top 6 do’s (and don’ts) of a SFIA implementation

Learn from the good and the bad examples from other organizations:

  1. DON’T do the stereotypical organogram diagram on a whiteboard or using sticky notes. Organizational structure is not something that you can design from a blank sheet of paper – at least not if you want to get it right first time and avoid regular reorganizations.
  2. DON’T start by defining the roles you need in the organization, and hand individuals their role profile and ask them to assess themselves against what has been decided is required in order for them to do their job. You’ll get pretty poor data, and run the risk of demotivating people and making things worse.
  3. DO make the effort to find out about the whole person. You want to know all the skills they have, regardless of whether they’re currently using them in what they do for you now. You might find some of that latent capability useful to help with the gaps you discover, and as you don’t really know exactly what you need, and even if you do it might change, it can help to get the complete picture.
  4. DO use a common, consistent language to describe what you have. Don’t make something up – use a framework which already provides this. SFIA is ideal for this – it’s stable, has been around for years, is regularly updated to describe all the latest skills, is used in nearly 200 countries, and is specifically referenced in other best practices such as ITIL and COBIT.
  5. DON’T over think this, or build it up to be bigger and more daunting that it needs to be. Communicate well and openly, explaining what you’re doing and why – building a baseline skills assessment to find out what we have now and what we need to develop or acquire.
  6. DO take the time to communicate the benefits to your people – that doing a SFIA assessment will help us to have a clear picture of all of the skills of our staff. It enables both individuals and managers to have a clear and objective viewpoint of ICT skills. Plus, SFIA covers not just ICT/technical skills, but also professional and business skills. And finally (and perhaps most importantly) we’re not using SFIA as a tool to get rid of people. We simply want to ensure that we’re able to meet current and future demands in a rapidly changing environment. We need to know what skills and capabilities we have.

The bad news is that you’ll confirm some gaps that you thought you had, you might even discover some more that you didn’t know about – but at least you’ll now know.

The good news is that, if you do the assessment in the right way, you’ll find skills that you didn’t know you had in the organization, including many that you won’t even be making use of at the moment. You’ll have a clear understanding of your starting point – which is essential for any journey, whether small or transformational.

Now you need to confirm what you need – and there may be several different variations depending on business strategy, market conditions, the products, and services of your organization, and customer needs.

I’ll tell you how to do that bit next in a later SFIA blog – but you need to do the baseline assessment first, and the data from that will help map out next steps. 

Matthew Burrows
Managing Director at BSMimpact

Matthew Burrows currently serves on the SFIA Council, is Chair of the itSMF International Ethics Review Board, and contributes to the Service Management industry and the development of best practice – including as Design Authority for SFIA.

He is Director and Principal Consultant of BSMimpact, an ISO/IEC 20000 qualified consultant and auditor, and SFIA Accredited Consultant, specialising in implementing pragmatic business service management solutions rather than just theoretical consulting. He has considerable practical and operational experience of Service Management.

Matthew’s authoring credits include SFIA (Skills Framework for the Information Age), Service Management, Portfolio and Programme Management methodologies, white papers, books, articles and publications.

Want ITSM best practice and advice delivered directly to your inbox? Why not sign up for our newsletter? This way you won't miss any of the latest ITSM tips and tricks.

nl subscribe strip imgage

More Topics to Explore

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *