The tenth annual SFIA conference took place on 1 December last year. Here are some glimpses of the day.

The event hosted presentations on technological trends such as green IT, the use of social media in business and the challenges of ensuring business has the skills it needs for tomorrow. SFIA is a skills framework for benchmarking IT skills. It was created over 20 years ago from information donated by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

The SFIA framework is regularly updated by academics and industry to represent the current skills and responsibilities IT staff require. The most recent update, which will be released in December 2011, has seen sustainability skills introduced to reflect this growing area in IT. Backed by the UK government and translated into several languages, the framework is used all over the world.

BCS remains an active member of the SFIA Foundation, and its standard, SFIAplus, offers greater detail on the skills required for each role and the necessary development to progress through the ranks. The Institute is planning to update the standard in line with SFIA version 5.

At the conference, multinational health care company Kimberly-Clark presented how SFIAplus helped them to develop their in-house IT talent.

Why SFIAplus

Kimberly-Clark’s strategic focus on growing talent coupled with rapidly changing technology and increasing demand to contain spend meant that SFIAplus offered good value for money. Employees were seeking clearer understanding of their roles, so the need to move fast with the L&D standard was ever growing.

One of the reasons for using SFIAplus was that it enables users to build job descriptions quickly and the descriptions can be edited and added to so that they fit the organisation. Once job descriptions have been created, staff skills gaps can be analysed, necessary skills be identified and development plans be created and managed.

Approach and challenges

The multinational decided to roll out SFIAplus using a pilot test first. They focused on building comprehensive role definitions including skills and technical requirements at specific job levels.

‘We found it a challenge aligning our organisational role structure with the SFIA job levels,’ says Gene Bernier, Director of Integrated Solutions Delivery. ‘Having professional consultants really helped us to overcome this and build a sustainable model.

‘Also standardising some of the roles in our company proved difficult at times. However SFIAplus offered the flexibility to tailor roles to the specific needs of our customers,’ he added.


Using the framework also enables individuals to create their own development plans. ‘We now have a basis on which to build future talent management programmes,’ says Gene. Picking two or three subcategories per job description, the team found the process useful to see where other IT departments overlapped as well as where the skills gaps were.

Recruiting has also been made easier, as Gene explains: ‘With detailed job descriptions and a strong L&D strategy in place, we can recruit more effectively into our team and maintain the good work we have done in the future.’

For more information on SFIAplus, call 01793 417 747 or go to

Do's and Don'ts

  • Do couple SFIAplus job development with your organisation’s talent management initiatives.
  • Do get the buy-in of senior IT and HR management from the start as successful implementation is key.
  • Do invest in change management and good communication once job descriptions have been created.
  • Do invest in expert advice when implementing SFIAplus to ensure you fully understand the impact of your decisions and you get it right first time.
  • Don’t roll out SFIAplus to the entire IT department if you are a large organisation without running a pilot scheme.
  • Don’t embark on building skills into the job description before you agree the role structure.
  • Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good progress.