Moving to SFIA version 6
This general update of SFIA can provide an opportunity to rejuvenate your approach to the management of skills, at a time when the availability and importance of digital skills has arguably never been more important and prominent.
The SFIA 6 Reference Guide, available at www.sfia-online.org, provides complete descriptions of all the SFIA skills. This document explains the changes which have taken place in version 6.
The need for change
Organisations and individuals use SFIA because it reflects current thinking about technology-related capabilities.
The collaborative development style involves open consultation and input from people with real practical experience of skills management in corporate and educational environments. That is what sets SFIA apart from other more theoretical approaches, and has resulted in the adoption of SFIA by organisations and individuals in nearly 200 countries.
SFIA stays current by a process of evolution, taking input from practitioners of many types from all over the world, all provided in the context of reflecting current practice. Over the years SFIA has become very influential in how people think about skills, so we will always take soundings from those working in a range of corporate, government and educational organisations.
That is how SFIA, as the world’s most popular framework of information and communications technology (ICT) and digital skills, continues to evolve and stay relevant.
During 2014, we collected – mainly through the consultation website – feedback from many users of SFIA, based on their experience. Specifically, we requested suggested requirements for change, and asked that contributors confirmed the problem or opportunity, how it affected them, and how it should be dealt with. It was important that we captured this reasoning, in order to understand the need for each proposed requirement.
We received over 150 comments, telling us where the framework needed to be improved. This part of the consultation was closed in August 2014, and the validation of ‘requirements’ was done by members of the Project Board.
The second round of consultation sought to find solutions to the validated requirements.
In December 2014, the SFIA Foundation Board issued a statement confirming the commitment to maintaining the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) as a de facto global standard for good practice. It announced an extension to the consultation period to allow further input from employers and organisations across the globe. The extension allowed all interested parties more time to contribute. Existing identified requirements and draft solutions were made available on the consultation website, and all were invited to submit comments and suggestions for further improvement. This extended the project timeline, moving the target date for publication to June 2015.
Thanks are due to all those who have contributed by giving us the benefit of their experience.
Remember that SFIA describes individual professional skills – not knowledge, not jobs, not roles, not people, not processes, and not general areas of activity, however important they are. The comments received have been processed with that in mind.
All the content in SFIA has been reviewed, and many improvements have been made.
SFIA version 6 remains in its recognisable format but with clear improvement. It is offered as a resource for all, to be used in all the ways mentioned in the introductory pages of the reference guide.
There were a number of inputs which haven’t resulted in changes being made to version 6. Many of these have helped the discussion and supported decisions about this version. Some did reflect a misunderstanding of the scope and appropriate use of SFIA, but not many fit in this category. Of course, some did conflict with other requirements, and decisions had to be made as to the most appropriate solution. Several have been retained ready for the next version as is was felt that they could not be adequately addressed in version 6. Our work on the next version starts immediately, as all continual improvement efforts must, and it will take into account all input provided for version 6.
How to use this transition guide
Users are recommended first to read through the whole guide, identifying areas of significant change. The changes that are of significance to the organisation can then be addressed in the context of the following activities.
- Experts. In a large organisation that has people identified as SFIA practitioners or consultants, it will be helpful to arrange a short meeting to review the changes and decide action.
- SFIA Accredited Partners and Consultants should ensure that they have an in-depth understanding of the new version, so that they can provide the best quality advice and guidance to their customers.
- SFIA-based role profiles and/or job descriptions. These can be updated to reflect new skills, new levels, merged skills and skills that have changed significantly. Updates can also be made to Rate Cards, CVs/Resumés, Continual Professional Development (CPD) plans, Recruitment mechanisms, and other items using SFIA that will benefit from adopting the latest version.
- Product and Service Providers who incorporate, or rely on, SFIA content should plan updates to reflect the latest version, and be clear which version their offerings incorporate.
- Databases. Review any internal databases that refer to SFIA skills. A convenient way to update a database is to use the skills definitions issued by the SFIA Foundation in the form of a spreadsheet.
- Development and training. If you have documentation indicating how development needs can be satisfied by certain training and development interventions, decide whether any of the changes to SFIA affect the development advice given.
- Training and education providers can review and update the mapping of their offerings to SFIA, and make any necessary curriculum changes to each affected course.
- Management. Communicate to managers that a new version of SFIA is being adopted, and brief them on changes that require action or special attention.