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The Environment

It has always been important to develop staff skills in line with the market to remain competitive.

What we see today, however, has a new quality and speed. Technological developments (new solutions, new possibilities, faster dissemination) and new expectations of employees (changed personal goals, different interests, new demands) lead to significant and rapid needs for adaptation in new directions. They are more complex and more difficult to predict. The pronounced shortage of skilled labour (new skills required, with a shorter half-life, greater competition) makes the necessary reorientation and even replacement more difficult today.

One noticeable effect is, for example, the need for companies to be more agile (faster adaptation, more project work, new forms of work). And another topic is spreading across all dimensions: Skill Management as an approach promises solutions in all problem areas, but turns the traditional understanding of the organisation of work into jobs on its head.

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The Special Role of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is causing further acceleration and new, unpredictable disruptions. To be clear, AI is not like new technologies of the past. It is the first exponential technology in the world that is affordable and accessible to everyone.

Exponential means that technology increases its performance by 10%+ annually, probably over decades. AI will become significantly better, cheaper, and more user-friendly in the coming years. This will create a gap: AI is developing faster than we can adapt our organisations.

Our competitors will use AI in many areas and have a lasting impact on our business models. New work processes, more favorable prices and new types of services will emerge, putting us under pressure.

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Questions for HR Management

This gives rise to urgent questions in HR management. How can we integrate AI into workplaces to increase their efficiency and productivity? Which jobs will change radically as a result of AI? How can we identify and develop the skills and competencies required to succeed in an AI-supported workplace? What role will emerging job categories play in designing, implementing and maintaining AI systems in organisations? In short, how is the organisation of work changing and how should we respond in HR management today?

Many companies also want to transform their HR processes with a cloud-based solution such as SAP SuccessFactors to meet future challenges. You can read about some of the direct links and added value of a job architecture to the introduction of SAP SuccessFactors in the white paper “Maximise Your SAP SuccessFactors Investment: The Essential Role of a Global Job Architecture“.

Schaeffler Case Study: A Job Architecture as the Basis for Workforce Transformation

We recently tried to answer this question at the Talent Management Reloaded conference in a case study together with Schaeffler. Title: Workforce 2030 – Implementing innovation strategies for tomorrow’s work today.

Schaeffler uses innovative technologies (such as SAP SuccessFactors) to improve its talent management processes fundamentally. Software solutions help to make the core tasks of all jobs worldwide transparent. The simplified modeling of future job profiles forms the basis for all personnel-related processes.

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At Schaeffler, this is based on a job architecture, the organizational infrastructure of all jobs in the company. All relevant criteria have been brought into a coherent structure considering interrelationships and interfaces. This includes, for example, job families, responsibilities, titles, remuneration, career paths, or the contribution of a role to the value chain.

A modern job architecture now even supports skills management. The job architecture is the best place to centrally record the skills required for each position across all roles, compare them with the job holders, and identify gaps.

A job architecture provides strategic personnel planning with the necessary, stable basis for (quickly adaptable) decisions in a rapidly changing environment. Schaeffler uses software, a solution designed to create and maintain job architectures for globally active companies.

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Schaeffler has used COLMEIA to systematically classify all roles worldwide based on their individual value chain. This has led directly to reduced complexity in HR, greater efficiency, easier HR software implementation, a consistent impact of the reward philosophy, and a faster response to developments in the market.

At Schaeffler, the job architecture is first used in strategic personnel planning, in recruiting, in the creation of career paths, for greater salary transparency and the development of skills management.

For the sake of understanding, the job architecture does not replace the organizational structure. It functions in parallel as a stable and at the same time flexible framework for transformation processes. However, the organizational structure remains untouched.

Not surprisingly, COLMEIA’s software has already integrated AI and accelerates internal HR processes by automatically generating job profiles, associated skills, and descriptions.

A decisive advantage for Schaeffler is that the high level of transparency and harmonisation of all roles worldwide simultaneously allows the creation of customised transformation plans for the entire workforce and breaking them down to each employee. The job architecture is therefore the central element in the HR transformation. It is based on the strategic goals and specific characteristics of the organization. It can be used company-wide thanks to its harmonization and transparency. It enables planning for the entire workforce as well as for individual employees.

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The Influence of Other Technologies on the Organization of Work

Although AI dominates all the headlines, it is not the only technology changing our work. For example, the financial industry continues experimenting with blockchain, 3D printing is changing industrial processes, robotics is being used in logistics, 5G is used in the healthcare industry, and the Internet of Things is used in agriculture. This technology impact can be more easily captured, measured, converted into decisions, and implemented in specific measures with the help of a job architecture.

A Job Architecture Combines Planning With Control and Feasibility

This is where we HR managers come full circle to the challenges mentioned above. AI, skills shortages, agility, workforce transformation, and the impact of new technologies are all major issues we cannot solve with old approaches. All too often, we still see that a lot of time is spent on planning, which is then worked through and ticked off. That used to be possible, but today, we no longer have the time. Planning and implementation should happen simultaneously, with incremental progress in prioritized areas constantly updating the initial situation. This is a mantra of strategy and agility specialists, investors, start-ups, and us.

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In HR management, the best basis for transformation is a well-thought-out job architecture including skills. It is a surprisingly simple and pragmatic tool for solving complex challenges. What is your top priority, what improvements in HR would you like to implement first?

  • Dr. Ralph Köppen
  • Managing Partner