Simple spreadsheet creates £50,000 opportunity for SME, and has no formulas. The power of a simple skills matrix.

Since I started working with SMEs back in 2009, I’ve been fortunate enough to make use of a simple skills matrix to help leadership take real advantage of opportunities within their organisations.  Appreciating that there are probably loads of skills-based assessment tools available on the market, and that many cloud-based or other HR systems cater for Skills Assessments, I can’t help but keep coming back to the simplicity of a spreadsheet to make a skills assessment review.


Its construction is really simple.  Each section down the page contains the teams within the organisation, with each row represented by an individual.  Each column block across the page represents a skills category (Mandatory, Operational, Systems, Soft Skills).

Management then make an assessment of each individuals skill level against a set of criteria, with other leadership appraising the scoring for completeness.



Then the review.  This can be done in 3 ways.

  • By Individual. Assessing their skills rating for themselves and against their peers, identifying areas of strength and development for the individual that can be built into a training or performance management plan.
  • By Skill Need. Assessing coverage of certain skills across the organisation or within specific teams.  Potentially identifying a targeted training need that can be addressed either internally or externally.
  • Organisational review. Taking a step back to review the whole picture, assessing the hot spots of skill shortages, or maybe the skills spread against other issues that have been identified in the organisation.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve used this approach with a large number of my clients over the last 10 years, specifically once we have got passed the financial review and are looking for opportunities for efficiency and growth.

So the claim of saving £50,000?  Well the maths for this are as follows.  Through working with managers on a company wide skills matrix we identified that a high-end machine, operating on a 3-shift pattern, only had 3 key operators fully trained.  In their absence the machine was shut down for safety and quality reasons.  Working on a simple basis of 4 weeks holiday a year, 3% annual sick leave over a 40-hour week, we identified nearly 700 hours of lost production time per annum.  Apart from losing the cost of the labour, what was really lost was the opportunity to deliver more product, to be more responsive and shorten lead-times to the customers, but also the opportunity to develop a more flexible work-force.  The following few weeks saw an intensive training program for other operators and assistants to optimise the line.  This ended up being just one of the contributing factors that turned the loss-making SME into a profitable one for the first time in 5 years.

If this simple approach looks like something that could add value to your organisation, get in touch, or for a more indepth review of your operations check out our Insight Service.





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