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Libby Marks

Talent Discoverability in Resource Management

Make sure you find the top performers in your talent pool – for project and business success - by exploring talent discoverability in your organization.

In resource management, talent discovery is the process of finding the right people for the right projects.

Scheduling resources is a bit like casting a play. As a Project or Resource Manager, you’re the director. 

You need to identify actors with the talent, skills, and attitude to make the show a hit. Your cast needs to come together, deliver their best performances, and delight your audience. 

But finding the right talent for projects isn’t as easy as holding auditions – especially in a large organization. With hundreds – or thousands – of human resources, knowing every individual is impossible. 

So how can managers find the standout performers in their organizational talent pool? How do you identify talent for present needs and future opportunities?

Enter the concept of talent discoverability – a strategic approach to uncovering, understanding, and utilizing people’s talents for organizational success.

In this guide, you’ll discover:

What is talent discoverability?

Talent discoverability – also known as talent discovery – is concerned with increasing visibility into the experience, skills and competencies of your human resources. 

It involves identifying and recording people’s skills and then making that information available to relevant decision-makers – such as resource managers, project managers, and HR.

Talent discovery aims to understand people’s talents and put them to good use within the organization. Whether that’s matching appropriately skilled people to projects, or identifying future leaders so you can nurture and develop them.

The talent discovery process also flags any skills gaps that need addressing through hiring or upskilling, and helps ensure your workforce is strategically aligned to business goals. It also supports employee retention by matching people to roles that engage and develop them.

As such, it is a core part of strategic staffing and human capital management.

Six reasons resource managers should care about talent discoverability

We’ve touched on some of the many benefits of talent discovery above but let’s dive a little deeper. Here’s what a talent discovery process can do for your company.

Make resource allocation more efficient

Efficient resource scheduling aims for the holy grail of the right people, on the right project, at the right time. Talent discovery supports the ‘right people’ part of the equation. It lets managers identify the right talent for each project, estimate how long they’ll take to complete tasks, and build an optimum team, schedule, and budget. 

Optimize skill and resource utilization 

Talent discoverability makes sure skills are surfaced and benefit the business. People may have skills that are perfect for a new project. But if you don’t know that, you can’t use them. You might even pass on projects that you could actually have delivered… Talent discovery also democratizes the allocation process, as managers don’t have to rely on people they already know. This improves utilization rates overall. 

Improve performance and retention

Matching the best talent to projects drives up performance and quality. But assigning people to work that they enjoy and excel at is beneficial too as it boosts engagement, satisfaction, and morale. This can lead to further performance improvements, support employee retention, and reduce disruptive staff turnover.

Identify succession planning opportunities 

Talent discovery helps resource managers identify development opportunities that match people’s ambitions, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention. It also plays a crucial role in succession planning and leadership development by identifying high-potential people and nurturing their talents.

Foster innovation and creativity

Hidden talents = missed opportunities. Once you’ve discovered everyone’s skills, you can leverage the full range of talent in your diverse workforce. Resource managers can tap into individuals' unique perspectives and diverse experiences, which can drive creativity and innovation. 

Strategically align your workforce

Senior managers need to plan for the future of the company, including capability and capacity planning. This is impossible without a clear understanding of your current organizational skill set. Talent discovery helps leaders understand skills gaps and align the workforce to their future needs through recruitment, upskilling, etc. 

What does talent discoverability involve? 

Talent discovery is a multi-step process that involves identifying the diverse skills of your talented staff, assessing their relevance and value to the business, and recording skills information centrally for easy reference. 

Once you’ve got those basics nailed down, it’s about your process for matching people to opportunities and your approach to skills development. And, once people are upskilled, how you update and maintain their skill record?

Step 1: Identification

As the name suggests, this stage involves identifying the skills, expertise, and capabilities of everyone in your organization. We know – this sort of skills tracking sounds like a big job. But it’ll be worth it. Use a combination of staff self-assessment and manager input to accurately determine individuals’ skills and level of competency. 

Step 2: Assessment

Next, you need to assess the relevance of the identified talents. How well do they align with the strategic objectives and operational needs of the organization? Consider the importance of specific skills to current and future projects, the potential impact of individuals' on key business outcomes, and any emerging skill gaps to be addressed.

➡️ Further reading about the strategic skills management process.

Step 3: Access

This stage is essential. Once you’ve surfaced talent information, you need to make it accessible, so people can use it for resourcing decisions. For effective resource management, you need a centralized resource platform that includes information on people’s roles, skills, costs to the business, allocations, capacity, and more.  

Step 4: Matching

With your centralized skills information sorted, you’re empowered to match people to meaningful work – work they have the talent for, and that gets them excited about coming to work each day. With a centralized resource management platform, resource scheduling is as simple as search, drag, and drop. 

Step 5: Development

Of course, talent discovery isn’t static. Now you’ve identified skills, you can think about how to develop them to benefit the business. For example, through training, online courses, Skill-Will coaching, or assigning challenging projects that get people outside their comfort zone and deliver professional growth. 

Step 6: Maintenance

Once you’ve set up your skills records, you need to maintain them. This involves updating profiles with training completed and skills gained. To ensure accuracy, consider a process where staff maintain their own profiles, but changes need approval from their manager. Review and update as part of the performance management process.

12 ways to optimize talent discoverability in your organization

Hopefully, we’ve got you excited about introducing talent discovery processes in your professional services firm or project-based business. Here are twelve ways you can optimize for talent discoverability and strategic skills management – for better utilization, performance, engagement, and more.

1. Establish clear talent discovery processes

First things first, define the processes for managing skills within your organization, including how skills are identified, assessed, and tracked over time. HR leaders, team managers, and employees should all have clearly defined roles and understand what they need to do, when, and how. 

2. Strategically prioritize skills

Work with your senior managers and HR to understand what skills are most critical to business success. This will help you focus your talent discovery activities to capture information on the most valuable skills – like who has them, and whether you have enough. That’s not to say other skills aren’t important, but these priority skills move the needle most for the company.

3. Standardize skill definitions

When tracking skills, you need standardized terminology to ensure everyone’s speaking the same language. You don’t want one person listing their skills as just ‘programming’ and another being specific with ‘Java’. Or someone saying ‘Spanish’ and another person ‘Espanol’. Develop a consistent dictionary for describing skills, so that employees know how to record them and users know what to search for. 

4. Conduct a skills inventory

Next, you need to systematically identify and catalog all of the skills of your employees. A skills inventory is just a list or a database that compiles the education, experience, skills, and seniority levels your people have. But it is a big task – one that should be managed centrally but delegated to individual teams.  

5. Make a skills matrix

A skills matrix is a visualization of your skills inventory. It shows skills and competency at a glance, so managers can quickly decide on the best person for any project. Remember that staff and skills can change regularly, so your inventory and matrix need regular updating. Find out everything you need to know about making a skills matrix.

6. Use tech to make talent discovery easier

Keeping on top of shifting skills and staff takes time. Make it easier by investing in an appropriate resource management platform. One that has built-in skills management functionality to support staff and managers to maintain up-to-date records, plus advanced search and filtering to find people by skills. 

7. Maintain optimal resource-to-manager ratios

Even with tech and tools to discover talent, there’s no substitute for really knowing your resources. And that means maintaining a good ratio between resource managers and the staff they manage. There’s no one-size-fits-all but the more complex your resourcing, the more managers you’ll need. Don’t stretch your resource managers so thin that they can’t deliver ROI. 

8. Analyze skills gaps

If you’ve spotted skills gaps during your inventory, you can now address how to bridge them through talent acquisition strategies. Consider opportunities for upskilling and developing existing staff, hiring new staff, and/or bringing in temporary contractors. Discover how to conduct a skills gap analysis and identify hiring needs

9. Prioritize development 

It’s often more cost-effective to upskill an existing employee than to incur the costs of recruiting and onboarding someone external. Look for upskilling and development opportunities to develop staff skills – in line with company needs and their career development goals. Don’t forget to log their new skills and levels!

10. Use projects to upskill 

When assigning resources to projects, don’t just look for the perfectly skilled person. Consider how a challenging project could help someone upskill and become more valuable to the business. This is the big-picture thinking that makes effective resource management so transformative. 

11. Empower internal mobility

Try to create opportunities for people to move between teams and try new things – this helps people develop, use, and showcase different skills. Plus, use talent discovery to identify high-potential people for succession and promotion. Companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for an average of 5.4 years, compared to an average of 2.9 years.

12. Encourage employees to engage

It’s important to remember that the ‘talent’ you’re discovering is your people and their skills. Encourage them to take ownership of this process by proactively discussing their skills, career ambitions, interests, and development goals. Help them see that engaging with the process will pay dividends.

A world where neither talent nor time is wasted

At Runn, we are motivated by a vision of a future where neither talent nor time are wasted. This is our North Star. Everything we do is designed to connect people with projects where they can make a difference.

If you share our vision of talent and time put to good use, the Runn resource management platform makes it easy. 

Alongside the expected resource and project management tools, we have a dedicated Skills and Levels tool that makes talent discovery super easy. 

Skills records

  • Record all employee information in a centralized resource pool 
  • Add any type of skill – from technical skills to professional experience, to industry knowledge
  • Add skill level – from basic to advanced, to pick the right person for each task

Skills discoverability 

  • Search and filter on skills – combine with availability to see who’s free when you need them
  • See skills and levels in an at-a-glance matrix – then drag resources into your project plan

Skill reporting 

  • Run reports to see capacity and utilization by skill – to inform planning and recruitment 
  • Filter reports by skill to understand the skills makeup in your business

Talent discovery made easy with Runn

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