Jason Duckworth, former Chief Systems Engineer at AKKA Technologies, recounts how AG5 solved his Excel spreadsheet nightmares. How do you manage 5,000 skills across a workforce of 120 people?
What did you achieve?
- Saved around 20 hours a month
- Easily select the most suitable replacement for a staff member about to retire
- Making far better use of the training budget
- Engineers have access to their own skills portfolios including skills, competences, training courses and more
What problems were you looking to solve?
It’s fair to say that our staff not only have an extremely wide range of qualifications between them, but that they’re also very highly qualified. For example, we’ve got people working here at AKKA with multiple PhDs or master’s degrees. So, how on earth are you supposed to get a grasp on what everyone can or can’t do? I used to have sleepless nights thinking about how to manage over 5,000 skills across a workforce of 120 people. My predecessor used to do this with a spreadsheet – you’ve never seen so many formulas in your life!
This meant that whenever I was trying to find the right engineer for a particular job or a replacement to stand in for somebody, I had to go and talk to the technical team leads. And if one of them was away on holiday, we ended up in a real jam, especially if we had to submit a bid or put together a team for a project.
How did spreadsheets add to the complexity of these problems?
We used to work with one huge spreadsheet for the whole company, listing every single skill imaginable. Our technical team leads were responsible for updating our skills and proficiency levels. In that sheet, there were already somewhere between 120 and 130 different skills listed, and that was before our team leads added another 50 or so without telling us.
What is the situation like now?
When we started using AG5, we managed to enter those 5,000 or so skills within a week, and now we can generate skills matrices for bids or projects within a matter of seconds. I’m not aware of any other software solution that makes things as easy as AG5. So, yes! I’d highly recommend it.
My predecessor used to do this with a spreadsheet – you’ve never seen so many formulas in your life!
What do you use our skills management software for? Any practical examples?
Suppose someone’s about to retire. We just enter his or her name into AG5 and we immediately see who might be a suitable replacement. Then there’s the ’Expert Finder’ feature – if I’m looking for a qualified replacement for someone, it now only takes me a few mouse clicks. Before we started using AG5, I’d have to go and have long discussions with the technical leads about who might be right for the job.
We’re also spending our training budget a lot more effectively and wisely. Take, for example, a situation where we want to send our programmers on an ADA training course, for which they need C++ programming experience. No problem with AG5! Just enter the two search criteria “C++” and “systems engineer” and out rolls a list of, say, ten people eligible to enroll for the course. Previously, we might have sent all twenty engineers on the course, ten of whom wouldn’t have had the required C++ experience.
Have you noticed any other benefits?
A lot of our staff took courses during corona lockdown – they updated their training information in AG5 themselves. Without it, it would have been impossible for me to maintain our records. But with AG5 we kept everything nicely under control – we got all the new skills recorded quickly and easily, even though most of us were working from home. I save myself around twenty hours a month using AG5 instead of our old database system.
Our engineers love it too because they have access to their own skills portfolios – skills, competences, training courses, experience, and such like. They can manage all this themselves. And this has actually had the effect of empowering them and instilling a greater sense of personal responsibility.