Skills Framework for the Information Age
The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA, pronounced like the name Sophia) is a model for describing and managing competencies for ICT professionals for the 21st century, and is intended to help match the skills of the workforce to the needs of the business. The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) was created by a consortium of 30 organizations over 22 years, spearheaded by the British Computer Society (BCS). Participating organizations include representatives from the UK government, multinational corporations such as IBM and Microsoft, and educational and representative organizations such as BCS, IET, Intellect UK, and many others. The IEEE Computer Society will use the SFIA as a key part of its work in defining IT curricula, an IT Competency Model, and an IT Body of Knowledge (ITBoK), and The IEEE Computer Society is working with the Canada Association for IT Professionals, the Australian Computer Society, and the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO) in developing the ITBoK. It maps out the range of skills as a two-dimensional table, by tagging each skill with a category and responsibility level.
These categories are divided into six main areas: Strategy and Architecture; Change and Transformation; Development and Implementation; Delivery and Operation; Skills and Quality; and Relationships and Engagement. Each of these is then further divided into sub-categories, mapping out 97 separately identifiable skills. Each of these skills has a general description and a description at one or more of the seven levels of responsibility.
These are the seven levels of responsibility, in ascending order: Follow; Assist; Apply; Enable; Ensure and advise; Initiate and influence; and Set strategy, inspire and mobilise. Each of these responsibility levels has a generic description showing the level of autonomy, influence, complexity, and business skills required.
From a Professional Services perspective, responsibility levels 3-7 can be thought of as equivalent to seniority levels: Associate professional, Professional, Senior professional, Lead professional, and Principal professional.
Each level of responsibility within each skill has a brief description of the typical characteristics of someone with that skill at that level. Skills apply at one or more of the seven levels.
SFIA is owned and managed by the SFIA Foundation, a not-for-profit organization with 5 corporate members - the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), e-skills UK, the British Computer Society (BCS), IMIS and the itSMF.
The current published version of the SFIA model is version 6, published in June 2015. SFIA6 was developed during 2014 and early 2015 through an open consultation process involving users of SFIA around the world and was launched at an event on 01 July 2015.
Work on the next release of SFIA Version 7 has now begun and this is coordinated by Ian Seward (SFIA General Manager and SFIA V7 Design Authority) and Peter Leather (SFIA V7 Project Manager and Consultant).
Levels of responsibility
Levels of responsibility run from level 1 (the most junior) to level 7 (the most senior):
- 1. Follow
- Basic capability to complete tasks under close supervision. Not expected to use much initiative. Should be organised.
- 2. Assist
- Uses some discretion and has a wider circle of interaction than level 1, especially in speciality. Works on a range of tasks, and proactively manages personal development.
- 3. Apply
- Complete work packages with milestone reviews only. Escalates problems under own discretion. Works with suppliers and customers. May have some supervisory responsibility. Performs a broad range of tasks, takes initiative, and schedules own and others work.
- 4. Enable
- Works under general direction in a framework. Influence at account level, works on a broad range of complex activities. Good level of operational business skills.
- 5. Ensure and advise
- Broad direction, supervisory, objective setting responsibility. Influences organisation. Challenging and unpredictable work. Self sufficient in business skills.
- 6. Initiate and influence
- Authority for an area of work. Sets organisational objectives. Influences policy, significant part of organisation, and customers and suppliers at a high level. Highly complex and strategic work. Initiates and leads technical and business change.
- 7. Set strategy, inspire, and mobilise
- Authority includes setting policy. Makes decisions critical to organisation, influences key suppliers and customers at top level. Leads on strategy. Full range of management and leadership skills.
The competencies are grouped into categories and sub-categories. Please see the SFIA Foundation website for more information (note: you will need to register to gain access, but it is free for non-commercial uses).
Benefits of SFIA
SFIA alone does not deliver any business benefits, however, it does create a foundation to leverage and create additional value to the organization. Benefits of SFIA can include:
- Enable ICT and the broader Business to work toward similar goals
- Can provide a clear understanding of standardized, leveled ICT skills across the organization
- Enable targeted training, to address specific skill gaps
- Improve ICT recruitment
- Assist with Performance Development of existing staff
- Bill Goodwin on SFIA, in Computer Weekly
- Computing article on competency models
- SFIA Benefits, published by SFIA Australia Archived 2014-01-25 at the Wayback Machine.