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Case Study: Tracking Staff Skills Electronically


In 2002 Touchpaper, supplier of IT service management and customer support solutions, realised success was bringing with it some challenges. The company had built a base of over 1,500 customers internationally, and each client had a unique implementation and support environment.

Paper system
The key issue resulted from the flexibility of Touchpaper’s own systems, including the Vega product suite, which provides IT departments with the tools required for IT service management. These products are designed to perform on a number of platforms and to integrate with a wide range of other systems. As the number of Touchpaper clients grew, so the complexity of supporting their various needs also grew.

“Like all software companies, we have to first install, and then support our product,” says training manager Gina Davies. “It’s my job to ensure that employees have the skills they need to do that, and as we grew more successful that became progressively more challenging.”

Historically, Touchpaper had stored information about their staff’s skills in a paper-based system. This was updated when staff joined, and as a result of annual appraisals. It provided a basic list of each staff member’s skills, particularly important for front-line employees such as consultants, project managers and support personnel.

However, it took time to maintain and as both the client base and the numbers of employees grew, Gina and the HR department became aware of its limitations. “Increasingly we needed to search for experts with particular skills at particular levels, and we couldn’t find them. Also, we wanted to set individuals’ personal development goals, and track their progress, but couldn’t do so using the existing system.”

Managing staff skills
The key objective for Touchpaper was to ensure that they continued to manage the skillset of their staff effectively. After some investigation, Gina recommended Touchpaper implement InfoBasis Enterprise Skills Infrastructure (ESI).

“The first thing we noticed was how easy it became to locate our experts. Identifying the right individual to be scheduled for a specific task is vital for a successful software implementation, and the InfoBasis ESI Expert Finder allows us to do just that. We are now planning to integrate Expert Finder with our resource management system.”

In addition, noted Gina, training became far more efficient as a result of using the system. “For example, we can now assess whether personnel need a particular full five-day course, or just half an hour with a consultant to bridge their particular skills gap. We can also use the system to suggest how we should design bespoke training that will fit the exact needs of a particular group of staff.

"This has the double benefit of providing employees with training that really suits their needs, and of minimizing the amount of time spent away from the workplace. Also, because all skills gap analysis is subject to the oversight of managers, we are able – crucially – to set priorities on our training spend, and only train where it will have the greatest effect on business objectives.”

As well as meeting their existing needs, said Gina, InfoBasis added: “We have also used the system, and our new clarity in thinking about skills, to help us specify exactly the skills required for both existing and new job roles. We have found that this process has increased the accuracy of our recruitment programmes. For example, rather than simply asking a candidate whether they have any experience, generally, of problem solving, or SQL Back up and Restore, interviewers can use our new job profiles to drill down to questions that allow candidates to prove a deeper level of understanding."


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