Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Skills Matrix & Development Plan - Template Walkthrough

One thing we'll get asked at some point is to assess the skills and competencies of the test team. To do that we need to understand what the skills competencies actually are and how we're going to assess them. We also need to decide what we're going to do with the information we gather.

Skills and competencies come in many shapes and forms. They draw on hard learning from the team members study up to raw experience gained over many years and projects delivered. As such we need to agree how to group them, then break them down into our Skills Matrix.



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In the Skills Matrix on the site, we have the following examples:

  • Technical - Tools and Technology
  • Testing
  • Application

Clearly you could break these down in many ways, but these are a good start. Under each category we have entered specific examples such as;


  • Tools: ALM, UFT, Jira, Toad, PuTTY


Technology is more general and could include scripting languages, protocols or maybe servers and operating systems. As with all templates, it provides a guide but it's up to you to interpret and apply it to your unique testing or management problem.

Enumeration
In order for the team to be ranked (or rank themselves), we need to understand what those ranks are and what 'value' we're assigning. On the About tab, you'll see this has been defined as:

  Level   Definition
1 No knowledge   No practical, working knowledge, should be able to use if provided clear guidance
2 Awareness   Can work with existing solutions and practices, understand what to do but perhaps not fully why
3 Proficiency    Can maintain and provide minor improvements, notable skill in some areas
4 Competency   Full understanding of existing solutions and practices required for day to day work
5 Expertise   Able to critically assess and improve on current use and build future capability

Clear definitions are essential, but in no way perfect. Use these as a guide but encourage the team not to labour too much over them.

A word of warning...
When rolling out the Skills Matrix and asking the team to rank themselves, the first question will be 'Why?'. It isn't unreasonable that you'll spook the team into wondering what it might mean to rank low on the items you want to assess. You wouldn't be getting them to complete it if it wasn't relevant.

Be sure to reassure them, that this is to help identify the skill base of the team, to make assignment of testing tasks more effective, to identify ways in which the team members can be trained and so increase the team's capability. 

Professional Development Planning
You would do well to introduce a strong process of review and assessment of the team, before you roll out the Skills Matrix.

To help with this, grab a copy of the PDP Scratch Pad template and have a read through of the Developing the Team paper to learn more about implementing an appraisal process, both are on the main site.

Mark.

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