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How to Create a Digital Skills Matrix for your Frontline [Playbook]

[Free Playbook] It's time to leave excel in the past and embrace a dynamic digital skills matrix for skills management and development. Make sure to download the Smart Skills Matrix Playbook for more insights.

4 minutes read
Published on 12 October 2023 Updated on 14 May 2024

We need effective skills management more than ever. Our frontline workforce are the most diverse, digital, and information-hungry they’ve ever been. The resulting skills gap has made reskilling and skills development a top priority. 

Yet, many organizations struggle with outdated and complex tools that hinder - rather than facilitate - effective skills management.

  • Many skills matrices live either on paper or in labor-intensive Excel docs.
  • These matrices need to be manually updated and coordinated whenever employees upskill or processes change.
  • These solutions aren’t easily overviewable and make it difficult to deliver relevant learning opportunities to promote skills development.

The solution to this problem knowing how to create a modern, dynamic digital skills matrix that not only streamlines management - but also engages and motivates frontline teams.

  • Updates with relevant skills in real-time
  • Connects skills profiles with job roles, teams, or individual users
  • Helps deliver on-the-job learning for the task at hand


Below, you’ll learn how to create a digital skills matrix, as well as find our five key steps to get started.

  1. Define the scope of work
  2. Measure proficiency
  3. Assess skills
  4. Deliver relevant learning content
  5. Put it together into a dynamic digital skills matrix.


👉 Start creating your own Skills Matrix. Download your free Skills Matrix Playbook here. 👈


1. Define the scope of work.


a. Determine your audience.

The first question that you’ll need to answer is: who’ll be using my skills matrix, and why?”

There are a number of different use-cases for a skills matrix:

  • Standardizing skills across an entire organization.
  • Upskilling frontline workers at a specific line or site.
  • Onboarding or training for a new skill, machine, or process.

Understanding the scope of work will help you clearly define the roles and skills that your teams need to develop.

b. Define roles and skills.

Start by mapping out the skills required in your production environment. A skills framework can be a useful visualization tool - this is a simple chart that helps you determine the combination of people and equipment used throughout your operations.

how to create a skills matrix

This framework helps you identify:

Outcome: what will the finished product or outcome be?
Department: Which part of the organization is involved?
Equipment: What machines, tools, or lines are involved?
Role: Who is involved on the frontline? 
Skill: Which skills are needed to successfully reach the outcome?

Start by focusing on a single machine or line to simplify the process, from here you can expand and repeat the process as many times as needed.

create a digital skills matrix - skills portfolio


💡Tip: Develop Skills Portfolios. Digital Skills portfolios are like a skills fact sheet - updated in real time- for the individual employees working on your shop floor. You can use these holistic overviews to track progress on skills development, and also flex your teams as needed to fill gaps and keep your operations running smoothly.



2. Measure proficiency.

If you’re going to develop a dynamic skills matrix to tell you who is qualified to do which tasks, you’ll need to define a benchmark for skill proficiency on the factory floor.

This means determining how well each of your employees performs relevant tasks, and assessing the knowledge they have about your processes and procedures. 

Proficiency Levels. 

Define proficiency levels for each skill within your skills matrix to understand competency at a glance and measure progress for your teams

Proficiency levels can include:

  • Elementary
  • Beginner 
  • Intermediate
  • Expert 
  • Or simply Yes/No, indicating whether the employee meets your organization's standards.


3. Assess skills.

In order to accurately assign proficiency levels for each person in your matrix, you’ll need a process in place to measure them.

a. Self-Assessments and Approval.

Encourage employees to self-assess their skills. Self-assessments help employees take ownership of their development and add evidence and certificates of skills development to their records. Review and validate self-assessment results to make sure that the results align with your standards.



b. Skills Assessment and Certification.

Skills assessments are critical for tracking proficiency. Create opportunities for on-site assessments per skill. These will help you to assess team members' skill levels, test their understanding, and plan for reassessments and training.

Skills assessment

💡Tip: Once an employee has certified for a particular skill, this information can be added to a digital skills matrix and a skills portfolio, where this certification can be used to inform data-based decisions around skills management.


4. Deliver relevant learning content.

Skills matrices should also be an opportunity to identify and deliver relevant learning content to help your employees upskill and develop in their roles. 

Identify relevant instructional content for each skill, which can include videos, images, digital work instructions, text, or links. This approach allows frontline teams to learn-by-doing, improving retention and aligning learning with skill development.

Digital skills matrices can connect with other systems within your organizations like LMS, and have the ability to integrate with your API.


💡Tip: You might need to create new learning content for the job at hand. If you use a digital work instruction platform tied to a digital skills matrix, there’s an opportunity to integrate this content directly into your workflows.


5. Creating a Dynamic Skills Matrix.

By this point, you have:

  • Roles and skills determined for each of your processes - tied directly to your desired outcomes.
  • Clearly defined proficiency levels for each of these skills and roles.
  • Skills Assessments in place to accurately assign proficiency for each skill and identify gaps within your frontline workforce.
  • The PEOPLE! The most important part. 


A digital skills matrix integrates all the components above into a dynamic, interactive digital tool that empowers you to:

  • Analyze and bridge skills gaps.
  • Train and onboard new team members.
  • Upskill existing employees.
  • Make informed hiring decisions.
  • Plan shifts based on certified team members.
  • Identify risks like skills gaps and vacancies.
  • Motivate and engage employees to grow their skills within the organization.

Embracing the power of a digital skills matrix will help you coordinate the capabilities of your frontline teams while visualizing and improving their skills in real-time.