June 6, 2023

Skills matrix: How software-enabled data visualisation has transformed this humble tool

Editorial Team
Skills matrix: How software-enabled data visualisation has transformed this humble tool

Capturing skills data is just half the job done. Data visualisation is what helps organisations make sense of it. A software-based skills matrix does both!

As the workplace became more complex, innovators across the world created an array of technological tools, or adapted existing ones, to help organisations navigate this complexity. Today, from communication and collaboration to sales, marketing and collaborative design, technology-driven tools are used in almost every sphere of the workplace and have helped organisations optimise resources and subsequently increase growth, revenue and profits. For instance, think of what Slack has done for communication, what Notion has done for collaboration in the workspace, and how Figma has transformed design!

In the sphere of skills management, technology has transformed a useful tool that helps organisations map the available and required skills for a workplace: the skills matrix. At its most basic level, the skills matrix is a spreadsheet-based list of names of all employees along with their skills/competencies and their proficiency in those skills.

But though the spreadsheet-based skills matrix has served organisations reasonably well in the past, in its traditional form, it has severe limitations such as the lack of integration with HR or other organisation-wide software, the need for a centralised entity to manually enter and update skills data, and the lack of accessibility for all (it was largely the domain of HR that controlled and accessed it). This has limited its usability, which compromises the quality of skills and competency data it collects and subsequently, the insights derived from it.

Today, the entry of software-backed skills management platforms has exponentially increased the insights organisations can derive from their employee skills data, allowing them to optimise teams for better performance and growth. Additionally, unlike its traditional version, modern skills matrix platforms offer immense value to employees, increasing buy-in. All this has ensured that the spreadsheet form of the skills matrix has become largely redundant. 

What’s so special about the modern skills matrix?

The modern skills matrix has two important features that provide organisations with immense value as compared to its predecessor. One, it is more accessible to both the organisation and user (employee) because it is easy to create and easier to update. This ensures that it captures good quality, structured, and real-time skills data that both organisations and employees can use to their benefit. Its second key feature is that it presents data visually, making it way easier for organisations and employees to derive valuable insights from it. Organisations can use these insights to drive their business, growth, recruitment, and learning and development strategies, and employees can use this knowledge to find exciting opportunities within the organisation and plan their growth. 

In our opinion, data visualisation is one of the most important differences between a traditional and modern skills matrix because it is this feature that enhances the value of all other features.

In this blog, we will specifically outline how skills management platform MuchSkills uses data visualisations to provide its users with excellent insights on the quality, spread, and level of the skills in an organisation. Once you see what MuchSkills can do for you, it is unlikely you will go back to the traditional skills matrix.

“Better people analytics – and better ways of visualizing and interacting with that data – will not only help managers and recruiters do a better job of matching people with jobs but will also help each of us develop a more accurate picture of our strengths and weaknesses. We’ll be able to send clearer signals to the market about all that we can do.” -Michelle Weise in the Harvard Business Review 

MuchSkills and skills data visualisation

At the core of MuchSkills is the philosophy that data must be communicated in an easily accessible way so that all of us (not just the experts) can understand it effortlessly, and also spot patterns, trends and outliers. These insights allow us to make informed decisions. This data visualisation philosophy was championed by the late Swedish physician, academic, and public speaker Hans Rosling. (To read more about why we think data visualisation is important, check out our blog: The beauty of data visualisation.)

Data visualisation therefore is a key component of the MuchSkills skills management platform as we shall illustrate with examples below.

1. Skill mapping: Map the skills and competencies of all employees – and make it accessible to all

Skill mapping: Map the skills and competencies of all employees

User friendly, interactive and inclusive user interface that makes it easy for employees to keep their skills profiles up-to-date given their ever changing skills and competency levels. Maps skills from both employee and organisation’s perspective: Employees express what their strengths, competencies and interest levels are in using certain skills, and organisations map the skills that are critical to the business in the custom skills category (which can include mandatory skill requirements and their descriptions or even essential certifications). Beautifully visualised organisational chart enables new and current employees to quickly learn the names, key skills of their colleagues, and shows how the organisation is structured as a network of people working together.

2. Skills analysis and reports: Identify skill gaps, upskilling opportunities and understand individuals, teams and the entire organisation

Skills analysis and reports: Identify skill gaps, upskilling opportunities and understand individuals, teams and the entire organisation

MuchSkills offers all its users visualised skills overviews that can be filtered by organisation, department, location, office, team or skill. Use these reports to monitor specific skills (such as those critical to the company), search for a particular skill in the organisation, or number of employees per skill. Also search for an individual to view their skills and skill and competency levels. Use skills reports to make better skills allocation decisions, identify gaps and areas of improvement, and design learning and development plans to help employees grow.

3. Enable employee growth: Employees discover individual skill gaps and can set skill based goals and plans.  

Enable employee growth: Employees discover individual skill gaps and can set skill based goals and plans.  

Organisations can set skills required for specific roles. Personalised skills reports allow employees to discover the skills they lack for current or desired roles so that they can set skills-based goals and growth plans with their managers. Employees can view their growth journey on their skills dashboard. Managers can view each employee’s growth and development graph, comment on their goals and progress, and view skills data. 

4. Skill based teams: Set up projects and teams based on skills alone

Skill based teams: Set up projects and teams based on skills alone

Avoid personal bias while creating teams by selecting team members based solely on skills. Set a list of skills required to get the job done and get recommendations of individuals with those skills from the entire organisation. As you add team members, review the competence level required for each skill so that you ensure you have an adequate number of experts and intermediate-skilled individuals and create your ultimate team. Share the team overview page with clients and other stakeholders. Among other things, it displays the team’s composition, required skills and competencies and existing skills and skills levels.

Skills data visualisation can boost employee engagement

MuchSkills’ insightful visualisation of each employee’s skills helps managers easily understand what energises them. With these insights, managers can enable them to focus on their strengths, which results in happier, more engaged and productive employees.

Don’t take just our word for it.

A 2014 study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology said: "Encouraging strengths identification, use, and development in human management practices can be an excellent way to promote work performance, thereby stimulating passion, vitality, and concentration at work."

Similarly, according to Gallup's State of the American Workplace report 2017, 60% of employees say the ability to do what they do best in a role is ‘very important’ to them. This was ranked higher than ‘significant increase in income’ and stability and job security."

The report says: “Employees do their best in roles that enable them to integrate their talent (the natural capacity for excellence), skills (what they can do) and knowledge (what they know)... Workers want roles and employers that allow them to make the most of their strengths.”

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