Determining the Skill Requirements

The process for defining the Skill Requirements of the group involves generating answers to the following questions:

• What is the size and nature of each project within the portfolio assigned to the group?

• What professional skills are required to carry out the specific tasks within each project?

• How many people with the specific skills will be required for the coming period?

Generating the answer to the first question is simply a matter of listing the number of R&D projects that are in the plan for the forthcoming period, the Project Portfolio, and then allocating the number of people to each of the projects as allowed by the budget. Any overall manpower problems should have been flagged up earlier during the budget setting process. Too few people would have indicated the need to expand the team, either by internal redeployment or by recruitment from outside the company, whilst too many people for the total programme would have presented a quite different problem. These aspects of budgetary control and target setting are dealt with in Sections B and D. For the purpose of this exercise we will assume that excess personnel is not an issue.

To answer the second question a list is made of the broad technical skills required for each project, e.g. synthetic chemist, colloid scientist or biologist, which will be needed during its lifetime. It is important at this stage not to forget any technical or other support that may well needed from outside the group or company, for instance from analytical services, computer modelling and information services.

To address the final question it is necessary to break down these broad requirements into the specific skills and the number of people with these skills that will be needed for each project. For example, the synthetic chemistry requirement could be as widely different as the synthesis of monomers for polymers or chiral intermediates for pharmaceutical or agrochemicals. It is technically inefficient to ask an expert in one of these areas to carry out work in another area. This may well be forced upon a Manager due to staff shortages, or by a short term no recruitment policy in the company, but if this happens sufficient time must be built into any project to allow for the re-focusing of a persons fundamental skills and the training that will be necessary.

In the example of a simple matrix given in Table A1, the skills requirements for the forthcoming projects are seven synthetic chemists, specifically skilled in heterocyclic synthesis and sugar chemistry; three polymer chemists, specifically with experience in water soluble polymers and conducting polymers; one colloid chemist and two microbiologists of general capabilities. Also identified are the needs for significant analytical support, modelling, and the use of semi-technical manufacturing personnel and equipment and the guidance of a physicist.

Table A1 Estimation of Skills Requirements

Project

Skills

Numbers

Specific Skills

Support

1

Synthetic

4

Heterocyclic

Analysis

Chemist

Synthesis

Modelling

Microbiologist

1

2

Synthetic

3

Sugars

Analysis

Chemist

3

Polymer Chemist

2

Water Soluble

Semitechnical

Microbiologist

1

Polymers

Scale manufacture

4

Polymer Chemist

1

Conducting Polymers

Analysis

Colloid Chemist

1

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