Using the SFIA Framework in Software Development


23 March 2021

Software Development

Agile Project Management


You’re in P.E class at high school. You’re about to play a game of basketball and two team captains are selecting their team picks, one by one. They might have very rough idea of how well each individual might perform, but how can they tell for sure? If only peoples’ skills bars somehow projected above their heads. At the moment, it looks like the next closest thing we’ll get is health bars, if humanity ever becomes anything like Cyberpunk 2077...

Let that sit for a moment.

The point here is that a world of difference will come to the flow of your software project, particularly when you can visualise a team’s skills through a framework.

When you resource such a project, you accommodate to each member’s strengths, equalling the best collective output. If you’re unfamiliar with using skills profiles to resource your software project, read on.

What exactly is a skills profile?

Similar to a CV, skills profiles collate skills and experiences, and the level to which each team member can apply them. There are many frameworks to how skills profiles can be displayed; in this article, we use an industry-recognised model - the SFIA framework. Ranked from 1 to 7, it indicates one’s ability to ‘follow’, all the way through to ‘setting strategy, inspiring and mobilising’. The sectors include:

Personal characteristics: Autonomy, complexity, knowledge and business skills

Professional skills profile: Team members select their most current and relevant skills against a criterion relevant to their role. Examples include:

  • Strategy and architecture
  • Development and implementation
  • Delivery & operation
  • Skills and quality
  • Relationship & engagement

How a skills profile helps

Since we operate in a high-level B2B technology environment, it becomes inherent to be critical and tactical to our resource allocation. Preparing our team using these skill profiles to help us win projects, and go on to resolve business problems.

Our skills management system of choice is SkillsTx. We recently sat down with Paul Collins, CEO of SkillsTX to speak about how the SFIA framework benefits the entire development team in assigning tasks to team members’ strengths. Watch the video below for more:

As mentioned above, when you resource a software project, you want a grasp on how competent each developer is in certain areas. One team members strengths can be used to cover another's weaknesses. These skills are displayed in a grid, with 3 key icons indicating level of competency:

As shown, some sub-categories useful to evaluate are:

  • Data modelling
  • Release and deployment
  • Systems installation or decommissioning

With this, you can match up your project requirements by asking a couple of questions:

  • What technical areas will have the highest time investment?
  • How will these align with the team’s current skills?
  • How will this affect the overall progress of the project?

It always helps to think about how many dominoes you’re knocking over when making these decisions - so if someone’s competency is highest in release and deployment over other skills, consider having them opening the gate for the product to enter the market.

A resource that will come in handy as you shortlist different agencies is our checklist on How To Evaluate a Software Agency. Download it for free below.

Why use SFIA?

It’s very possible to create standalone competency frameworks within your own company – like we mentioned before, SFIA is a worldwide industry standard framework for defining skills. Its consistency in the framework structure and definition of skills across any country it’s deployed in.

You'll also find generic attributes with these skills:

  • Autonomy
  • Influence
  • Complexity
  • Knowledge
  • Business skills

These are understood beyond the boundaries of IT, and creates a world of knowledge for HR professionals and others that assess someone’s skills profile. It grants them the ability to quantify and measure skill levels and gaps in a simplified visual.

We use the SFIA skills profile to provide full transparency in client engagements, allowing freedom to decide which responsibilities suit our team.

If you’re ready to move forward with your software project, contact us here.

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Shannon England

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