SFIA is a key enabler for organisations creating technical (non-management) career paths.

This article by Rich Hein on cio.com describes very nicely the benefits of mapping non-management career paths for IT – what would also be labelled as “Technical” career paths.

However this concept does need to be backed up with is a good skills / competency framework to explain exactly what is needed in senior roles without line management responsibilities – and this is where SFIA comes into its own.

The article sets out …

the benefits of non-management IT career paths

Technology careers attract all types of people and a percentage of those will be introverted or simply not interested in managing people. As a leader you need to do your part by offering fulfilling positions for these people or risk losing them.

“The need for new skill sets and evolving roles are in demand at a rapidly growing rate, so putting someone on a career path that doesn’t have any room to develop is not only a career-limiting move for the employee, but a business-limiting move for the company,”

and highlights some of …

the costs of not providing non-management IT career paths

The cost of employee turnover, … can range “from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5-2x the contributors annual salary.”

Its data also indicates that tenured employees add more value to a corporation than those who are just “cycling through.” Doing what you can to help retain these people makes sense and is in the organization’s best interest. So what can you do to retain these individuals and keep them engaged?

and also lists some …

specific roles which allow non-management IT career paths

roles such lead developer, project manager, software architect technical lead, team lead, architect, principal level engineer, distinguished engineer role, senior R&D position and program manager to name a few.

These roles do require some management and leadership but they allow employees to continue on as more of an individual contributor with a larger overall impact. ”

Source: cio.com

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) provides the words and descriptors to put flesh on the bones of these concept s and will also save a huge amount of time and money in developing a custom solution for your organisation.

For example: moving to a leadership role needs to demonstrate increased influence / autonomy -SFIA describes these graduated steps in details e.g moving from SFIA level 5 to level 6:

  • at level 6 individual must be able to demonstrate that they have “defined authority and responsibility for a significant area of work” and that they “influence policy formation” **

This means that the definitions of autonomy, influence, complexity and business skills can provide objective criteria with which to describe technical leadership roles which constitute the higher level rungs in a non-management career path.

And there is even more which SFIA provides to describe graduated career steps.

  • The levels 1 – 7 in specific skills areas can also be used to explain the specific expectations between say a senior developer and a lead developer, or a systems designer and an architect.
  • Where SFIA comes into its own is getting beyond a job title and helping the organisation, line managers and IT professional understand exactly what is required at each career step.

** Text from the Skills Framework for the Information Age quoted by kind permission of The SFIA Foundation: sfia-online.org