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I initially wrote this to Robert off-list, but now that Bill has taken up the same argument, I think it might be helpful to post it to the list:
I work for a software company. The software we make is designed to help large companieswith understanding and managing complex product development organizations. Our customers use some sort of gated methodology (there are many flavors but they share most functional characteristics) to manage product development projects.
One of the sticking points is that the people who manage projects are often not the same as the people responsible for assigning resources to projects. So there is a lot of communication back and forth to get the right people assigned and to keep the workforce gainfully employed.
One of the ways to help manage this interaction, whether it is done with our software or with Excel spreadsheets or with whiteboards, is to have a skills matrix so that if I, a project manager, need an electrical engineer who can design circuit boards, I can point to the skills matrix and say to the resource manager, "send me someone with this skill." At that point the furthest thing from my mind is critiquing the particular abilities of the guy he sends me. If it is one of our employees, I trust he can do the job and will pick up any needed detailed skills as required.
That's the use to which a skills matrix can and should be put. It is not at all irrelevant. What is irrelevant is worrying about whether the EE in question can use some particular brand of software. That's assumed.
>Have to second Robert's perspective. I've seen several attempts at compiling such information, and each time, the information is outdated within months and never used for actual planning purposes. What's more, with a highly motivated group of individuals, what one has experience with now is really secondary to what one can learn given the proper tools. I learn more by doing than by going off to seminar somewhere.
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