The Alignment of Human Asset
to Business Strategy
August 26, 2009
The most powerful effect of an Enterprise Competency
Management system is in its ability to provide for the
origination and maintenance of the alignment of the human
asset to the stated strategy and goals of the business. In the
vast majority of organizations this has been the missing piece
to sound strategy; the means to qualify and validate the skills,
competencies and the abilities of the workforce.
How can a system like Enterprise Competency Management
"align" the human asset to business strategy? By providing for
the systematic acquisition, maintenance, upgrade, and
management of the necessary knowledge and practical
abilities required by the workforce to successfully execute the
strategy. It not only defines the qualification standards for the
requisite skills, it verifies that the abilities are comprehensive
and repeatable. Additionally, the ECM system provides a
real-time tracking mechanism that presents management with
an accurate and current status of achievement - for an
individual worker, a division or the entire enterprise. Changes
to the qualification standard flow to those previously qualified
as well as those pursuing qualification. In essence, everyone
in the qualification pipeline is notified of the change in
requirements and tracked for the timely accomplishment of
the revised standards.
If an organization makes the strategic decision to improve
quality, there are a multitude of solid quality improvement
programs (Six Sigma, Quality Circles, Seer, Converge, etc.)
that can create and monitor the processes necessary to
achieve higher quality; but none ensure that the workforce is
systematically (and verifiably) qualified to perform their duties.
In many cases the skill and competency qualifications of an
employee are derived from resumes, performance evaluations,
on-the-job training programs or through cursory evaluations -
they cannot verify that the worker actually knows and can
accurately perform all aspects of their particular position. If
there is any question of the actual knowledge level and true
capability of the workforce, the return from an investment in a
process improvement program will fall short of expectations.
The ability of workers to correctly perform their duties is one of
the fundamental requirements for a business to grow and
prosper. Aren't most workers qualified to perform their duties?
Myriad surveys, assessments and experiential data affirm
unequivocally that they are not. In a survey by the Federal
Aviation Administration on the ability of an aircraft
manufacturer's workers to read blueprints, certainly a
fundamental skill in the manufacture of aircraft, only 17%
passed a basic competency examination. Many of the
employees tested had been in their jobs for over ten years.
The net result is a reduction in quality, an increase in rework
and associated production delays. If this is the situation for a
major aircraft manufacturer where quality is absolutely critical,
where in the continuum does that put the businesses whose
products that are lower on the criticality scale?
The vast majority of accidents and incidents are either created
or exacerbated by low level unqualified personnel who were
being utilized in areas or processes with which they were
either not trained for, or were unfamiliar with. There are
thousands of examples of disasters created by the use of
unqualified people - people who were used as fire watches,
safety observers, or in technical tasks with which they had
limited ability and experience. Most often the use of
unqualified personnel is in response to increased production
demands in a facility that lacks the required number of
qualified personnel. The use of these unqualified workers "in a
pinch" has cost organizations millions of dollars in preventable
The sound execution of business strategy is dependent on the
appropriate competencies of the workforce to implement and
continue the strategy. Prior to ECM this primarily was a "best
guess" assessment of worker qualification to perform their
duties. This is not surprising as there was no system that
delineated the qualification standards, the process to achieve
and track them, or that could verify the level of knowledge and
practical ability at a comprehensive level. Without this level of
competency management an organization cannot achieve
positive control of the process or the end product.
Organizations need to recognize the increasing need to
"prove" the knowledge and ability level of workers - to
regulatory agencies, to legal forums and to customers. It is
the very core of organizational credibility. With ECM, the
organization can readily provide complete, accurate and
truthful documentation of the training, testing and
requalification for all workers in all competencies and skills.
Development of Personnel Qualification
October 21, 2009
The Personnel Qualification Standard is the source reference
for competencies, skills and proficiencies. It contains the
detailed definition of each line item on the Record of
Qualifications, including prerequisites, required reading,
general knowledge, detailed knowledge, and practical
experience requirements. It also contains the bibliography for
the competency and the approved list of training courses that
meet the Personnel Qualification Standard requirements. The
development of qualification standards is truly a collaborative
process requiring the highest level of thought and planning; for
present and future requirements of the business.
Hierarchical Components of Attainment
In the Personnel Qualification System there are four
identifiable levels of attainment:
Position - the sum total of all competencies required to
perform a specific position.
Competencies - a designed set of skills that qualify the
candidate to perform all tasks or procedures within the scope
of the competency.
Skills - a collection of proficiencies that enable the candidate
to perform a specific task or procedure.
Proficiencies - the lowest level in the hierarchy, proficiencies
are specific knowledge or practical experience line items.
Overview of Standards Development Process
The proper design and development of a comprehensive and
accurate Personnel Qualifications Systems Standard requires
a detailed process. The process consists of the following ten
1. Assignment of a Standards Development Committee.
2. Development of a Position Description.
3. Identification of the required competencies.
4. Designation of the skills and proficiencies that will make up
5. Assignment of appropriate System Experts.
6. Identification of training courses that meet the requirements
of the standards.
7. Designation of requalification requirements.
8. Design of the Record of Qualification for that competency.
9. Publication and dissemination of the final Personnel
Qualification System Standards.
10. Annual review and modification of the Standards.
Standards Development Committee
As the core of a viable Personnel Qualification Systems
program is the Standard, the Standards Development
Committee must be representative of all stakeholders within
the organization. We recommend the following composition for
the Standards Development Committee:
Business Executive - a critical component of the process as
they are the developers of the overall business strategy, and
can identify the areas of knowledge and ability that can
achieve the business goals. They are usually tough to get for
the entire process; the best solution is often their participation
at the beginning and end of the process.
Qualifications Manager - is the overall director and
administrator of the Personnel Qualifications System and the
designated expert on Standards design and development.
Training Manager - serves as the interface between the
Personnel Qualifications System and the training department.
They can identify the local training assets, online courses and
manage the development of required new courses and
Department/Division Managers - are the direct interface
between the qualifications process and the operational
requirements of the business. They bring insight into the
operational requirements, the ability of System Experts, and
the impact on productivity.
System Experts - are the most senior and skilled of the floor
workers, they are experts in the specific proficiencies, skills
Human Resources - provide input on the hiring requirements
for workers in the organization and industry standard skill and