Career Path and SFIA, Workflow and Process Management

Analysis of Job Roles and Career Path, including SFIA

SFIA refers to the Skills Framework for the Information Age, which describes the skills and key competencies required by professionals working in information and communication technologies, computer science, and digital transformation (SFIA 2020).

SFIA aims to provide “a common language for skills in the digital world” (SFIA 2020) by giving individuals and organisations a framework to define their skills and expertise, free from the use of acronyms and technical jargon, rendering the tool friendly for supporting roles to ICT professionals, such as human resources and learning/development (SFIA 2020). My personal experience with using SFIA as an individual was undertaking an assessment of my current skills and experience, while also identifying future skills development and suitable career goals.

I compare my results from the SFIA framework with the APS Work Level Standards to provide a holistic overview of my experience, skill gaps, my current job role, and my future career goals. The APS Work Level Standards are a series of guidelines to help determine the work value for each classification level in the Australian Public Service (Australian Public Service Commission 2018). The Work Level Standards describe the skills and knowledge required for a job role, as well as the requirements, duties, and responsibilities associated with the role. In addition, the Work Level Standards identify the characteristics that describe an effective performance for the APS classification level (Australian Public Service Commission 2018).

As an APS level 4 employee, the Work Level Standard that applies to my job role and performance standard can be summarised with the following overview: “An APS Level 4 employee would generally be required to undertake tasks of moderate complexity and work under general direction. They are accountable for organising their workflow and making decisions within defined parameters relating to the area of responsibility. Employees at this level may exercise some discretion with respect to how legislation, procedures, and guidelines are interpreted and applied. APS 4 employees provide specialist and administrative support that is informed and directed by sound knowledge in specific areas and may undertake some research and analysis activities. Employees may have a public contact role and may be required to communicate with and provide advice to a range of external stakeholders. Work may involve the supervision and leadership of a team with responsibility for coaching and training newer and less experienced members of a small work team” (Australian Public Service Commission 2018).

Overall, the work of an APS Level 4 employee falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • Leadership and Accountability
  • Job Context and Environment
  • Independence and Decision-making
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Management Diversity and Span

And one or more the following functions:

  • Service Delivery
  • Program and Project Management
  • Policy
  • Regulatory Functions
  • Professional/Technical Functions
    (Australian Public Service Commission 2018)

These categories and functions will be further examined in relation to my SFIA self assessment. In addition to the list of skills, the SFIA framework also features a level of responsibility for each skill, ranging from Level 1 (lowest level) to Level 7 (highest level). The descriptions of the 7 Levels of responsibility are Level 7 (Set strategy, inspire, mobilise), Level 6 (Initiate, influence), Level 5 (Ensure, advise), Level 4 (Enable), Level 3 (Apply), Level 2 (Assist), and Level 1 (Follow) (SFIA 2020).

The skills I self-assessed through the SFIA framework and their levels of responsibility are as follows:

  • Analytics (Level 5)
  • Data Visualisation (Level 5)
  • Specialist Advice (Level 4)
  • User Experience Analysis (Level 4)
  • Research (Level 3)
  • Data Management (Level 2)
  • Testing (Level 1)
  • User Research (Level 3)
  • User Experience Design (Level 3)
  • User Experience Evaluation (Level 3)
  • Configuration Measurement (Level 2)
  • Information Content Publishing (Level 3)
  • Consultancy (Level 5)
  • Knowledge Management (Level 3)
  • Information Content Authoring (Level 3)
  • Marketing (Level 3)
  • Sales Support (Level 3)
    (SFIA 2020)

My primary skills have been identified as Analytics and Data Visualisation, as I applied a 20% skill loading to each of these two skills, meaning 40% of my time in my current role is spent using these skills. My APS Level 4 job role is an Information Technology Graduate in the health.gov.au Transformation Project Team. Specifically, I am responsible for handling the health.gov.au and health portfolio website analytics, while also completing other user experience (UX) tasks that are less frequent. Along with being my primary skills for my role, I personally feel that Analytics and Data Visualisation are my strongest skills. I utilise both of these skills daily when completing tasks, I use Analytics skills to extract web analytics from tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, and then I interpret this data in relation to problems/opportunities that business areas within the department identify. I also visualise these datasets for business areas using tools such as Google Data Studio; I communicate the data in a way so that any individual can easily understand the trends and metrics without advanced knowledge of terminology, data analysis skills, etc.

I personally feel that these primary skills align with the SFIA Responsibility Level 5 (ensure, advise) as I am the primary account holder for the health.gov.au web analytics accounts and properties. It is my responsibility to maintain these accounts and distribute access to relevant individuals and advise on how to use them, while also utilising them myself when working on tasks for business areas. The primary skills also align with the APS Work Level Standards for a Level 4 employee. For example, “provide advice based on professional knowledge; interpret and apply professional documentation and produce a report of finding”, “resolve moderately complex enquiries from stakeholders and provide information and advice as a representative of the work area, and “make decisions within defined parameters relating to the area of responsibility that impact on the work area or specific function” (Australian Public Service Commission 2020) all align with my skills and SFIA  Level of Responsibility for Data Analytics and Data Visualisation.

Other prominent skills that I included from my skills evaluation are Specialist Advice (Level 4), User Experience Analysis (Level 4), User Experience Design (Level 3), and User Experience Evaluation (Level 3). These particular skills are prominent as I also allocate time to these skills during my daily work, such as Specialist Advice and User Experience Analysis having a 10% loading, and User Experience Design and User Experience evaluation having 5% each. Specialist advice coincides with my primary skills of Data Analytics and Visualisation, as I am required to advise other staff on information relating to these areas, as aligned with the SFIA Responsibility Level 5 (SFIA 2020). I personally feel that my skills in User Experience (UX) have not only been developed through occasional UX tasks during my job role, but also from previous experience working in a Digital Media Assistant role during university, completing a variety of digital media, design, and user experience tasks.

Similarly, the skills of Information Content Authoring (Level 3) Marketing (Level 3) Sales Support (Level 3) Information Content Publishing (Level 3) were developed during my time at university studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies (specialising in Digital Media, Marketing and Advertising). I authored and published a variety of informative blog posts, articles, and social media posts, while also developing a wide range of additional content including graphic and video design. My experience in Marketing and Sales Support was also developed during my degree but was also supported by various paid and volunteer roles such as the Digital Media Assistant position, and a Marketing and Events Assistant position. While these skills are included in my SFIA self-assessment, they are only skills I have in addition to the skills I use during my daily work. These extra skills do not have a loading percentage allocated.

I believe my study of the Graduate Certificate in Government Informatics at the University of Canberra will support my skill development in 2020, along with my fulltime employment. Studying new IT topics during the portfolio tasks, and co-managing a Government department endorsed IT project will allow me to develop new skills such as project management and process management, while also honing my existing skills such as user experience design and data analytics.

Workflow and Process Management: Reforming IT Processes for Greater Efficiency

IT workflow and process management are important factors for improving and maintaining efficiency for both individuals and organisations in information technology.

Generally, the topic of workflow management is “concerned with the work that people do” (Hilton n.d.) and is the overall management of tasks that make up the work done by an organisation. The workflow specifically is the coordination of tasks (often a sequence of tasks) that then make up a larger task for the overall business process (Hilton n.d.) The goal of the workflow is to produce a result in favour of the organisation, its process, and objectives overall, while the goal of workflow management is to produce these results better. IT workflow management involves the coordination of IT systems to achieve this, such as through automation software. For example, a system designed to share data between one or more workflows within an organisations other IT systems (Hilton n.d.). Process improvement is an organic result of workflow management, therefore process and workflow management go hand in hand with producing successful results for an organisation, more efficiently based on both time and costs (Hilton n.d.).

Process management refers to the alignment of an organisations work processes to its strategic goals, objectives, and overall mission, while also systematically designing, reforming, and maintaining processes so they can be managed effectively (Appian n.d.). The idea of process management working in conjunction with workflow management can be referred to as business process management (BPM), which is the basic structure of integrating IT processes with workflow automation strategies, leading to greater efficiency within a corporation (Veyrat 2016).

In addition to general efficiency, process management is important for a business strategy as it allows an organisation to measure and control its processes, establish a control strategy, make more reliable changes, and increase employee engagement, while also providing an overall framework for continuous improvement and support the implementation of other IT systems (Harris 2017).

A specific aspect of workflow and process management I am looking at is the analysis of an existing process and reforming it for greater efficiency. An example from my work experience at the Australian Department of Health is the disconnect between the wider departments and the IT division when business areas are trying to request projects. This is the problem I am currently working on addressing as a part of the Government Informatics major IT project, so I am able to provide an analysis of how the problem is occurring at the Department of Health, and critique the current process and how it can be improved based on the industry standard and theory.

Currently, within the department, there is a disconnect between the Information Technology Division (ITD) and business areas when requiring engagement for new, large-scale projects. There is a lack of tools and guidance to help business areas self-identify the level of input they require from ITD, while also a lack of support during the following stages. Due to the lack of tools supporting business areas with how and when to engage with ITD, there are issues causing confusion and inefficiencies, such as time delays due to reworking project requests, compliancy issues with department policies, and security/privacy breaches with systems procured from outside of the Information Technology Division, all resulting from the lack of support within the workflow and process of engaging with ITD.

The current process involves a business area contacting someone regarding their problem or request, often they contact the first person they believe can help with their problems, such as through the IT help desk, or an APS employee working in the information technology division. As many of these first points of contact aren’t the correct avenue for requesting new, large scale projects, business areas are often redirected on to someone else and need to repeat their problem/request again. This cycle of ‘going around in circles’ leads to the business areas feeling frustrated with their lack of progress, and also creates inefficiencies for the business areas and their work. For example, not being able to engage with IT and develop a solution to their problem can lead to less work being done by the business area, or spending a large amount of budget on procuring a solution from outside the department because they unsuccessfully engaged with IT, and then having it not meet standards of the department’s policy/security requirements would mean both wasted time and money for the business areas. These problems directly coincide with the industry theory on process management, as having a process management solution for the engagement between ITD and business areas would allow for greater control, measurement, and general success of solutions between the two parties.

Similarly, a problem experienced by ITD is that the business areas do not have set guidelines on what information they need to provide for their project requests. For example, the business areas will often request an IT solution, but give no additional information about what the solution needs to accomplish, or provide a timeframe, budget, and logistics. This causes issues of efficiencies for ITD in the form of chasing business areas for additional information instead of being able to work on the solution once it’s initially requested.

The current solution we are proposing to alleviate this problem is to develop a coherent decision framework to allow the business areas to self assess their level of engagement needed with IT, and the ability to receive guidance in any additional steps of their request. The solution will work to correlate with the industry standard theory on process and workflow management, such as allowing the department to better control, measure, and maintain their processes to produce better results for the overall strategic mission of the organisation. Reforming the engagement process between the information technology division and business areas at the Department of Health will allow for greater efficiency, and savings on both time and resource allocation.

Reference list:

Australian Public Service Commission 2018, ‘Work Level Standard – APS Level 4’, viewed 22 May 2020, <https://www.apsc.gov.au/work-level-standard-aps-level-4>.

Australian Public Service Commission 2018, ‘Work Level Standards’, viewed 22 May 2020, <https://www.apsc.gov.au/work-level-standards>.

Harris, E 2017, ’10 Reasons Why BPM is Important for Your Business Improvement Strategy’, Triaster, 21 November, viewed 23 May 2020, <https://blog.triaster.co.uk/blog/10-reasons-why-a-bpm-system-is-necessary-for-any-organisation>.

Hilton, P n.d. ‘What is Workflow Management?’, Signavio, viewed 23 May 2020, <https://www.signavio.com/post/what-workflow-management-is/>.

SFIA 2020, ‘How SFIA works’, viewed 22 May 2020, <https://www.sfia-online.org/en/framework/sfia-7/how-sfia-works>.

Veyrat, P 2016, ‘The advantages of IT and BPM: IT process management’, Heflo, 31 May, viewed 23 May 2020, <https://www.heflo.com/blog/bpm/it-and-bpm-it-process-management/>.

 

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