Abiliton People: Standards for Knowledge (Part 3)
March 06, 2013
By Sergiy Korniyenko, SDO Director, and Oleksandr Baranov, Competence Manager at SoftServe, Inc.
In the previous posts on Abiliton People: A Winning Team Part 1 & Part 2, we mentioned SoftServe’s Competency Development Framework, specifically created as a step-by-step career guide for our software engineers. In this post, we`ll discuss the Standards phase of the process, with a special focus on SoftServe`s corporate standards for knowledge – the Knowledge Model.
As our company grew, the need for clear corporate standards for company-wide and individual knowledge became obvious.
There were a number of challenges to address, including:
- qualifying personnel: for example, defining a clear distinction between Junior and Senior employees;
- establishing a reliable interviewing and evaluation process for hiring engineers;
- developing self-education guidelines for employees in compliance with the company needs and goals;
- aligning our training programs and curriculums for our internal IT academy with the company goals;
- defining requirements and step-by-step programs for employees` professional growth;
- integrating the need for company-wide employee education as a part of the corporate culture;
- showcasing the skillset of our employees to our customers and partners.
In order to address all these challenges effectively, we’ve identified the main areas of knowledge for our employees and created Knowledge Models.
SoftServe Knowledge Models
Obviously, a Java developer should possess different knowledge than a Ruby developer. At present, we have detailed Knowledge Models for the technologies we are actively using, such as: Java, .Net, Ruby, Python, C++, DevOps, Oracle, MS SQL, etc.
Additionally, we take into account that each technology has a number of sub-directions (profiles), for example, Java:Web, is very different from Java:Mobile(Android), as well as Java:Desktop-related stack. At present we have more than 30 Knowledge Models covering our key technology areas.
Let’s take a closer look at a sample of the Java:Web Knowledge Model :
In the first column there is a list of Knowledge Areas important for a Java Web engineer. Apart from Java programming topics, it also includes some adjacent areas such as DataBase, Security, Code Quality, etc., to ensure that our engineers have a solid knowledge base and can quickly adapt to various project needs.
The other four columns clarify the level of expertise needed for an engineer of a specific rank. For instance, an Intermediate Level Java developer has to be “Competent” in Java programming language, but does not need a similarly deep understanding of estimation specifics (as estimation is usually a task for Senior Engineers and Technical Leaders).
In order to clearly define the requirements for each level – “Qualified”, “Competent” or “Expert” – it`s necessary to consider a certain technology area. For example, let’s focus on the Object Oriented Design qualification requirements:
Every item on the list is accompanied with a short description, as well as the links to the study materials (books, webinars and internal trainings).
At SoftServe, we`ve developed these knowledge models for all technologies and service offerings. It allows us to efficiently qualify our personnel; develop the best educational programs and targeted trainings; coordinate the activities of all our teams and monitor the level of our expertise in every sphere of our work. This way, SoftServe`s employees are aware of the corporate and customers` expectations and have a number of ways to ensure their professional growth. Of course, theory and practice should always go hand in hand – therefore there is a need for developing another set of Standards for practical Skills and Behavior, known as “Performance models”.
Performance models are structured in the same way as Knowledge Models, establishing a set of standards for practical performance used to define and communicate the company and customers` expectations to our employees.
This is a short overview of the core principles we use to streamline the professional advancement of our people. Stay tuned to learn how SoftServe “measures” employees` competency development – and more!