The SFIA User Forum, which includes organisations such as Norwich Union, aims to feedback practical experience of the Skills Framework for the Information Age. At the launch event, Norwich Union's Gary Cannon demonstrated how the SFIA links human resources functions, providing a common language between five different organisations. He also highlighted a raft of tangible business benefits, which included a 98% fall in the amount of unallocated time spent by staff.
The SFIA Foundation, launched six months ago, is a partnership of the main organisations involved in IT skills development: the British Computer Society, E-Skills UK, the Institute of Electrical Engineers, and the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (Imis).
The SFIA is a high-level taxonomy, sitting above but now aligned with the BCS' Industry Structure Model, which defines more than 300 IT roles. It is also in tune with the more specialist detail provided, for example, by the National Occupational Standards definition of basic competencies; Imis' assessment system; and the IT Infrastructure Library's Best Practice in Service Management reference guide.
"There is huge interest in Europe and in the rest of the world in the SFIA framework, the common language for IT skills management," said Terry Watts, chairman of the SFIA Foundation, and chief operating officer of E-Skills UK.
The SFIA framework is free of charge for any organisation to download, he added. SFIA, which provides a standard way of describing personal competencies, professional requirements and technical proficiency, is couched in language that even accountants can understand, said Ron McLaren, who heads up the new user group.
The foundation of the SFIA user group, and the business benefits harvested by organisations such as Norwich Union, mark the culmination of a process that started in 1986, with the first issue of the BCS' Industry Infrastructure Model.
In 1996 the Alliance of Information System Skills (AISS) was set up to develop standards for IT skills measurement. Computer Weekly was strongly supportive of this initiative, which was later renamed SFIA.