Question: How can we create a talent dashboard?

Our company provides IT implementation and consulting services in SCM, Financials, etc for various large and mid-market software packages.

For successful execution, we rely heavily on timely deployment of teams comprising technical and functional experts.

As the company has grown, we frequently find ourselves engaging expensive consultants to augment our in-house staff. This is primarily due to poor visibility of available talent at project and company levels.

How can we build a simple, "real-time" talent dashboard to be shared across the organization?

3 Expert Insights

The simplest real-time talent dashboard is one that meets three criteria:
1. it is connected to other databases within the enterprise's ecology that draw on secondary information to make inferences about changes in real-time talent.
2. it is built on a cloud or content management system platform that can be easily updated by non-experts and passive users of the system.
3. it has a built in competency based logic that parses information into competency/task pairs

While pieces of the above exist in a number of standalone IT solutions, the trick in making it work is to customize the competency based logic in a way that is tied into the unique set of tasks within the enterprise ecology. If that is done well, such a system can be implemented in-house at minimal cost.

If there really is poor talent visibility, the reason may be different, however. If may be due to a lack of alignment between enterprise strategic objectives and competency management.

The most efficient and low-cost first step would be to conduct a basic study of objective/competency alignment and competency based logic in the existing hr DB.

I would take a page out of the major consulting firms who have multiple projects going on at once, and implement a three step process.

1.  Develop an application / skills matrix that collects all employees' skills,  e.g., roles, projects, task descriptions, relevant skills.
2.  Develop a process or application that can search these "resumes" and allow keyword searches.  This take some time to put together.
3.  Have "operations" keep track of who is being used and who is on the bench.  

Then, once you have an engagement come in, you can search your db, plus post the "openings" on your "intranet" for particular skills, and "sell" employees on a particular project / engagement.  

I did this for a top-tier consulting firm, and it worked well - we improved utilization rates and cut costs of using outside consultants.  The key is having a searchable db that can give you the information you need.  

You mentioned that you are seeking simplicity as well as good visibility for the information on this dashboard. I see at least 2 good options that meet those stated criteria:

1. Create an excel spreadsheet arranged by company name, project name, person's name, skills & competency level (conditional format color coded). It seems you are particularly interested in the whereabouts of certain talent and competency level combinations of your people. This matrix could be used to check the locations / availability of certain people and test their flexibility to help out on certain new projects. I find the conditional format color code capability of excel particularly useful, which could be customized to meet your needs. Excel is also obviously searchable and highly visible if you use the color formatting wisely.

2. I am also a huge fan for the use of "Mind Mapping" software for almost anything in business, including planning, tracking resources on projects, color coding for your talent and competency levels, visually describing complex topics, etc. As projects finish and people move around, you just drag and drop the resources to different branches (projects) on the mind map. You can put engagement dates on the Mind Map and it automatically creates time-line charts to track each project. Mind Maps are fully searchable too. I teach classes on how to apply Mind Mapping to be successful in business and personal life. Here is the link to that class. The duration of this class could be customized to your needs.