Some people say that employees are any company’s most valuable asset. This claim is indeed valid, as employees are the ones who run your business in its day-to-day operations. Their skills and experience are the main factors determining your company’s success.
Hence, ensuring your employees are always well-trained is in your best interest. There are many ways to track your employee’s skills and training history. One of the most common methods is using a skills matrix – which can come in conventional or software-based versions.
In this article, we shall introduce you to skills matrices, the difference between conventional and software-based skills matrix tools, and the top 10 benefits of using skills matrix software.
What Is a Skills Matrix?
A skills matrix is the data visualization of employees’ skills. It evaluates and maps employees’ skills and training history numerically, often with color-coding as well. Managers commonly use a skills matrix to asses employees’ performance and to know what training is necessary for which employee.
In the past, all skills matrices were paper-based. Sometimes, they might have been attached to a skills matrix board on a wall, where anyone could see everyone’s selected skill level on selected skill sets. Today, most skills matrices are made and used digitally. Some managers prefer manually making them using Microsoft Excel sheets, while others prefer using skills matrix software.
Discover more about the skills gap, skills matrices and skills matrix software in our “Ultimate Guide to Skills Matrix and Training”.
Why Is a Skills Matrix Important?
Regardless of the industry, a skills matrix is any manager’s best friend. It allows managers to measure each employee’s vast skills objectively. They typically focus on an employee’s technical job-related skills. Moreover, it also keeps a record of past trainings. Just as the saying goes: “To measure is to know.”
With this helpful information, managers can plan training sessions for their employees. If a skills gap has been found in multiple employees, managers can organize team-wide training to address it. A more tailored personal training is preferred if a skills gap has been detected in one or a few employees.
How to Create a Skills Matrix?
Making a skills matrix, either using conventional tools or dedicated software is not rocket science. Any computer-savvy worker can draft a simple skills matrix. Simply create a matrix using Microsoft Excel or a similar tool, or download and adjust a template from the internet (usually Excel-based). Some templates can be downloaded for free, while some are paid.
Input the names of your employees on one axis and the measured skills on the other. Afterward, input the value of the measured skills (in numbers, letters, color coding, or a combination) into the table. And with that, you have successfully drafted a simple skills matrix.
If using a software-based skills matrix, simply input the necessary contents without spending any time and effort on the design part.
What Is Skills Matrix Software?
Using a skills matrix is a must for any manager. Moreover, you can further enhance this powerful tool using a skills matrix software. A skills matrix software is a digital tool accessible from a PC/tablet/mobile phone, where you can draft & manage skills matrices and share them with your other team members.
A skills matrix software offers so much more than a conventional skills matrix. Not only does it function as an employee training tracking tool and grade their skills, but it can also serve other practical purposes.
We will further explore the key differences between conventional & software-based skills matrices in the next section.
Using a Conventional Skills Matrix vs a Skills Matrix Software
Today, skills matrices can be divided into conventional and software-based categories. The key difference lies in how they are made and used.
A conventional skills matrix is typically made using a spreadsheet tool like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Managers must manually adjust columns and rows to form a proper skills matrix.
Alternatively, skills matrix templates can also be downloaded from online sources, although they still need some adjustment work to fit an organization’s needs. After making one, managers can manually input and delete data in their conventional skills matrix, just like in any other spreadsheet.
Meanwhile, using a skills matrix software is a different story. Both conventional & software-based skills matrices serve mainly as an employee skills & training tracking tool. However, there are many aspects where they differ.
Generally, a software-based skills matrix is more practical and has more functionalities than its conventional counterpart. A skills matrix software generally already comes with a pre-made template. Thus, you only need to input and manage the necessary data, saving you time from designing and color-coding the matrix.
Key Features of Skills Matrix Software
A skills matrix software offers numerous functionalities. There are countless skills matrix software providers in the market, and here are some of the standard features of skills matrix software.
Accessibility & Portability
The most visible feature of a software-based skills matrix is its accessibility and portability. It can easily be accessed from any internet-compatible device, such as a PC, tablet, or mobile phone. Thus, you can easily bring it anywhere at any time. You can make or edit your skills matrices even when you’re away from the office, granting superb flexibility.
Testing Your Employees
Besides keeping track of your employees’ skills and training, testing their knowledge and skills is essential. Many skills matrix software have a built-in employee test section. You can test your employees through quizzes – complete with images, videos, and other supporting media.
Automated Real-Time Updates
Due to its digital nature, software-based skills matrices provide real-time updates for its users. These real-time updates can come in the form of audio (such as a “ping” sound or a vibration) or visual (such as color-coded lights or a pop-up message) notifications in the targeted PC/tablet/mobile phone.
These real-time updates can be used for various purposes, such as reminding employees of upcoming training and informing them whether they have passed or failed certain skill tests.
Built-in Matrix Template
Skills matrix software typically comes with a built-in template. Therefore, there is no need to design the matrix from scratch. Simply input texts and numbers into the existing matrix, and it’s ready to use.
Collaboration & Communication
Another notable feature of skills matrix software is its ability to be integrated with other devices. This means a software-based skills matrix can be accessed from multiple PCs, tablets, and mobile phones. With the right software, it can even be integrated with various industrial machinery, similar to digital work instructions, which can be integrated with a wide array of devices. Discover how digital torque wrenches can be integrated with digital work instructions here. With this feature, everyone on your team can check their skill levels anytime & anywhere through their personal mobile phones.
Individual Employee Assessment
Besides collectively tracking your entire team’s skills, you can also assess each of your employees individually, thanks to skills matrix software. Each employee can have their profile page, complete with the documented skillset level and training obtained. As a result, you can provide individually tailored training for each employee.
Top 10 Benefits of Using Skills Matrix Software for Your Business
The features above clearly show that skills matrix software is a powerful addition to any company. Compared to conventional skills matrices, software-based ones are far more useful. Here are several key benefits of utilizing a skills matrix software for your business:
Benefit 1: A Streamlined Experience in Employees’ Skills Assessment and Tracking
The most tangible benefit of using a skills matrix software is its streamlining impact. Managers must manually draft a spreadsheet in conventional skills matrices to form the matrix.
Downloadable matrix templates are also available on the internet. However, they still need some time-consuming adjustments to fit your company’s needs, as they are typically very generic.
According to a Dartmouth Business School survey on spreadsheet usage, 46% of the respondents spend at least 3 hours/week working on spreadsheets, with 10.8% spending 10 hours/week or more.
With skills matrix software, you only need to input the data into the existing fields. No need to waste time on menial tasks such as manually designing and color-coding a spreadsheet to make a skills matrix. Let the software work, freeing your precious time for more productive activities.
Benefit 2: Enhanced Performance Tracking and Fairer Compensations
A software-based skills matrix lets you easily track your employees’ performance and skills objectively. This data is handy when determining their compensation plans.
Top-performing employees should be rewarded accordingly, as it will benefit your company in the long run. Employees who feel appreciated are likely to give their best in their work and are less likely to leave your company – lowering your turnover rate.
A Pew Research Center study found that 63% of respondents who quit their jobs in 2021 cited “pay was too low” as either a major or minor consideration when leaving their jobs. Quitting employees means extra funds, time, and energy must be spent on recruiting and onboarding new ones.
Alternatively, the data from your skills matrix software can also be used as a bargaining tool when negotiating compensation with low-performing employees. In brief, using skills matrix software helps ensure that each employee receives compensation that corresponds to their performance and skills.
While in a conventional skills matrix, you must do all these tasks manually. Sometimes, even multiple spreadsheets are needed to do this task. On the contrary, skills matrix software offers a one-stop solution for this task.
Benefit 3: Higher Job Satisfaction
Besides compensation, training opportunities are another significant aspect people seek from their employers. Naturally, employees expect personal development through company-organized training.
A Cleveland State University research has shown a correlation between company-provided training and job satisfaction. Moreover, the same research also found that organizing sufficient training helps to reduce a company’s turnover rate.
And of course, a well-trained employee will always function better than under-trained ones. To know which employees require what form of training, the easiest way is to track them using a skills matrix software.
Benefit 4: Efficient Employee Training Programs
Using a sills matrix software allows you to analyze a skills gap pattern in your team more easily. Should a skill be lacking within the entirety/majority of your team members, you can organize a mass training program. That way, you only need to plan and organize a training program once for the entire team instead of doing it multiple times.
Similarly, should a skill gap only be detected in a small number of employees, then you can create a training session tailored specifically for them. That way, employees who don’t need to be trained can continue doing their jobs instead of participating in unnecessary training.
Discover the importance of identifying skills gaps and using skills matrices to train your employees in our “Ultimate Guide to Skills Matrix and Training”.
Benefit 5: Employee Training Planning in the Long-Term
With a skills matrix software, you can plan your employees’ within the coming weeks, months, or even years. Moreover, your employees will be fully informed of their future training schedule.
Some skills matrix software can be linked with popular work scheduling tools like Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar. When training is imminent, an automatic notification will be sent to your employees’ devices. This will remind them of the upcoming training, allowing them to prepare themselves for it.
A conventional skills matrix does not possess this practical feature. With a conventional skills matrix, managers still have to manually send training invitations and reminders to their employees’ calendars.
Benefit 6: Brings Transparency to Your Organization
A software-based skills matrix offers unparalleled transparency for your time. With it, you can set the employee skills & training matrix to be accessible by anyone on your team. As a result, everyone knows everyone’s skills & training levels from one central database.
This grants a sense of transparency among your team members, as the skills & training levels are objectively measured and openly displayed. This feature helps remove personal favoritism and nepotism in any organization. With this openness, you can also encourage your lower-skilled and less-trained employees to learn more from their more proficient and seasoned peers.
With a conventional skills matrix, everything is slower and less centralized. Sometimes, each department has its own skills matrix spreadsheet for its department members. All data-sharing activities have to be done manually. This makes interdepartmental coordination more cumbersome.
Benefit 7: Automatically Generate Personal Skills Report
Several skills matrix software allow you to generate an individual employee’s skills and training report automatically. This report contains historical data, such as past training records, skill levels in selected fields, planned future training, and other helpful information.
Some might say that this benefit leans more towards competency matrices instead of skill matrices. Both tools have similar names and both terms are used interchangeably, even though they refer to two separate tools.
To know more about competency matrices, check out this article.
On the contrary, there’s no equivalent feature on conventional skills matrices. You can only manually transfer data from the spreadsheet matrix to a separate file for the personal skills report. This is a time-intensive task, especially if you’re responsible for hundreds or even thousands of employees.
Benefit 8: Helps to Plan Your Work Roster
No matter how qualified they might be, employees are still humans that need rest occasionally. At some point, they will take a leave or a sick day. To mitigate this cutback in staffing, you can always rely on software-based skills matrices.
With it, you can easily look at your team members’ skills distribution. You can plan your employees’ downtime schedule so that at any given moment, there is always a set minimum number of highly skilled & trained employees in the work roster. In this manner, your operations will still function smoothly, even if some of your team members are away.
Benefit 9: Supports Your Hiring Strategy
Besides being useful for managing internal talents, a software-based skills matrix is also helpful when recruiting external talents. It will serve as a basis to analyze which skills need to be improved among your existing talent pool. With its support, you can make data-driven hiring decisions, so you will hire new personnel that will fit your organization’s talent needs like a glove.
Benefit 10: Being 100% Paperless
Last but not least, using a skills matrix software means being 100% paperless. Previously, spreadsheet-based skills matrices were commonly printed and pinned in an easily seen location. However, with a skills matrix software, anyone in your team can access it through a PC/tablet/smartphone – no paper involved.
Going paperless means your organization will cut down on paper & printing costs. At first, it might appear negligible. However, a survey in the US has shown that, on average, an employee prints 8,874 pages per year, costing businesses around USD 725/year. Reducing paper use is also a good step in limiting your company’s environmental impact.
The Bottom Line
It’s clear that software-based skills matrices offer much more than their conventional counterparts. Your organization deserves top-notch skills matrix software, and Azumuta’s Skill Matrix & Training module is your ideal solution.
It offers a visually intuitive skills matrix, generates individual employee skills & training reports, schedules short & long-term training, and many other work-streamlining features.
What’s more, it’s the only software in the market that can be integrated with other production-enhancing modules, such as Digital Work Instructions. With all these combinations, Azumuta is a one-stop software that makes tracking your employees’ skills & training progress a quick and effortless task.
See how Azumuta’s Digital Work Instructions module has helped our client to achieve a 98% delivery punctuality rate and speed up their production orders by 1-2 days in their success story. Also, check numerous other examples of how Azumuta has tremendously enhanced clients’ production efficiency here.