Change management normally involves a mix of digital transformation (technical) and business transformation (people and processes). It’s difficult for people to accept change, embrace new ideas, and understand and adopt new processes and tools.

Often, these changes map to digitization initiatives, such as when organizations move to the cloud and away from siloed teams. In other cases, it’s simply new tooling and technologies like a different ERP or code language. However, if your company is part of a merger or acquisition, it could result in significant shifts in business direction and processes.

In any case, change management often involves overseeing significant shifts in roles, responsibilities, and even team structure. Implementing skills gap analysis as part of change management can help HR and immediate management deliver the strategies needed to navigate these fluctuations effectively.


Why skills gap analysis?

Skills gap analysis identifies the difference between needed and actual skills. Based on the assessment, this can be conducted at an individual, team, or organizational level. Each level adds value, depending on the type of transition and the team – and often you want something from all three.

For example, understanding what the team needs as a whole can be much more valuable than understanding what’s missing from a specific role. But, if you want to maintain roles as they are, you’ll want to run role-based gap analyses to see how actual skills line up with missing skills and competencies.


Role changes

Whenever new elements are introduced in an organization, affected roles have to adjust. This commonly happens when new tools are introduced (e.g., you hire someone on one ERP and switch to another).

It also occurs during restructures, or when positions are merged or adapted. For example, in Agile team building, teams are often tasked with handling much of their own overhead. You could also have instances where QA experts are asked to join dev teams, line two customer support is asked to sit in with teams one or two days a week, etc.

These kinds of shifts can change the responsibilities associated with a given role. For example, if someone responsible for coding in C++ takes over communicating with customer service, handling accounting and budgeting, or guiding a trainee, they’ll likely have significant skills gaps in their new role.

Over the course of a decade (or two), you may find some people are filling roles they’re no longer qualified for simply because the role has changed too much in the time they’ve occupied it.

Do employees still have the necessary skills for their new role? How can you tell? Do you have a competency framework mapping skills required for each team or role? If you don’t, what does a skills gap analysis actually tell you?


Tooling changes

Software changes in organizations from every decade to much more frequently. When you make the switch, a skills gap analysis can tell you if your employees still have the skills necessary to work with the new software.

That can be significant if you’re moving from something like Oracle to SAP, but less significant if you’re moving from SAP ECC 6.0 to S/4HANA (although in the latter case, you’d want to pay special attention to whether or not people are actually adapting to new processes).

With shifts in software, a skills gap analysis should focus on both processes and hard skills. Are employees able to use the software competently with their current knowledge base? Do you have any hero users? Would delivering workshops or training be beneficial?

Similarly, if new tooling affects processes, do employees show competency and understanding of those modified processes? Any process should be intuitive and easy to follow, but if people don’t use them, it might simply be because they don’t know enough about it. A skills assessment can help you identify if any gaps exist in these instances and specifically where.


Making lateral shifts

Specific roles are becoming obsolete across dozens of industries, including bank tellers, data entry specialists, and experts in outdated tooling and code languages.

Roles are born and die out at the pace of digital innovation, which unfortunately means that nearly any organization older than 10 years will have employees who were hired for now-defunct or soon-to-be-obsolete roles.

Introducing skills gap analysis can show you where those people should be moved, what they need to learn to stay relevant in their current role, and what development they need to continue adding value to the organization.

Of course, lateral shifts shouldn’t occur only because of obsolete roles: You may need to downsize a team, but don’t want to let people go; you might want to encourage people to build diverse expertise so they can add more value to leadership positions as part of change management, or you may want to reassure people you won’t let them go as part of organizational changes.

Offering relevant personal development opportunities so they can stay in the company is a great way to do that.


Discovering gaps

The most obvious reason to implement skills-gaps analysis as part of change management is to discover what those gaps are. Most organizations have skills gaps, especially in IT. Mapping those give insight into what you have to train, hire for, or implement to close those gaps.

If you can identify what gaps you have, you can better assess whether you need to hire for them, build new skills inside the organization, let go of unskilled workers, or bring in external contractors to fill those gaps. Once you’ve mapped those frameworks and pinpointed gaps, it’s much easier to see what the best strategic decisions are.


Wrapping up — Implement skills gap analysis during change management to find and build your most effective teams

Gaps in skills cost organizations thousands every year. That works out to lost productivity, lost employees, and failed change programs. Integrating assessments to acknowledge, identify, and then remediate those gaps removes much of the uncertainty of change, both for the organization and the employees. In turn, that inspires employee loyalty because it lessens the fear of job termination, lowers costs, and improves the pace of change because people know what’s needed to make the shift.