Knowing How to Know Who Knows What

August 29, 2016 John Gorup

When I started at Appirio, it was easy to know who knew what. That’s because there were only about 80 people. So if I needed help with a technical problem with Salesforce, I could ask Maryam. Or if I needed help with anything, I could ask Glenn. Life was simple — a few IMs with Maryam or Glenn and I looked like a genius to our client.

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Thankfully, we’ve grown a bit since those days. Even so, as any organization grows, finding the right expertise to solve problems gets harder. As the org chart grows wider and deeper, it becomes impossible to know who knows what. Mass emails pleading for help are annoying and easy to overlook. Depending on that one person who knows Python and is fluent in Portuguese to respond to a mass email is like fishing for the one walleye in a trout pond.

To handle this problem, Appirio uses a simple solution that comes with our instance of FinancialForce Professional Services Automation (PSA) app in Salesforce. PSA has all the functionality to run a professional services organization, but some of the most straightforward and useful parts of the app are the Skills Matrix and Skills Capacity.

The Skills Matrix is where workers go to rate themselves on subjects that have been loaded by an administrator. Here you can see I rated myself as “Comfortable” with Vantive:

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Filling out my Skills Matrix, of course, isn’t just about feeding my ego (or killing it, if you look at the rest of the technology skills). Because everyone at Appirio has a Salesforce license, anyone can navigate to the Skills Capacity page to find out who knows what. Continuing with our Vantive example, you can see that Appirio has 9 people with some sort of rated Vantive skill:

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PSA is an expansive solution for professional services organizations, and has more functionality around skills than finding out who knows what. For example, PSA can be used to keep track of certifications. Also, admins can set thresholds for key skills or in your organization, so that organizations can see what skills you need to hire for going forward. Deficiencies in a skill are indicated with a little stop sign image, giving valuable information to the talent management team.

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