Tuesday 29 January 2019

Collaborate With Confidence - Build Your Updated Skills Inventory in 2019

If we are going to see improvement in project collaboration all stakeholders will need to start interacting much earlier on. 

Collaborating using Autodesk Revit software for example requires a specific skillset e.g. interference checking, model linking, working with worksets, understanding the copy/monitor tool and more.

Within a couple of minutes, KnowledgeSmart administrators can build an assessment in KnowledgeSmart focusing around assessing their team on these specific aspects. 

Having access to up to date skills inventories across all participating companies can help build a successful team that is adept at working together. It can also help assess suitability for collaboration and where collaboration should take place ideally. 

One of the biggest costs of projects is waste and I am not just referring to physical waste. Wasted resources and poor resource planning can cost companies millions.

KnowledgeSmart Results Analysis - Collaboration

The above image shows the results from two firms looking to collaborate. Visual slicers on the right include: company name, certificated training (yes or no), 2Yrs+ Project Experience (Yes/No), Current Project Focus, Project Manager, Elapsed Time and Hire Date. We can assess collaboration suitability and even map out optimal project teams.

KnowledgeSmart Radial Chart - Skill Gap Analysis

The above visualisation uses a radar chart to compare the skills gaps across two companies. The process involves focusing on the skills that the project needs. If the skill gaps are too considerable for training to solve, at this point, the project management team would consider collaborating with a further company or hiring internally focussing on the relevant skills required. Using the 5 unique datafields that KnowledgeSmart allows you to capture our analysis contains richer data. In this case: office location, hire date, project area focus, years of project experience and certificated training (yes or no).

KnowledgeSmart Skill Gap Analysis - Collaboration

The above image shows a slightly different way of looking at skill gaps across the collaborating companies and these can be analysed according to current team structure or even on an individual bases.

KnowledgeSmart Project Mentors - Collaboration

Using the same filters as described above we can now also identify the best possible project mentors between the two companies. Who are the people that can offer the most support to teams on either side of the collaboration? 

KnowledgeSmart Microsoft PowerBI Dashboard Focusing on Collaboration

 All these visualisations can easily be added to a dashboard that can be shared across the management team and stakeholders so that improved, more insightful decisions can be made very early on.

KnowledgeSmart can help companies collaborate with more confidence both internally and externally. This will identify potential risks and problems early on and make sure the right people are assigned to the right elements of the right project.


Monday 17 December 2018

New BIM360 Assessment Collection in Development

We have recently had our annual technical workshop in Bath and future library content is always on the agenda.

Taking into account the industry trend towards software as a service and cloud-based solutions, we are very excited to announce that we will shortly be commencing on a new project to develop a new assessment library that will cover the Autodesk BIM 360 portfolio of services as well as the required workflows linking the design authoring software to the services.

As the AEC (architecture, Engineering and Construction) industry requires a flexible configuration to cater for multiple disciplines collaborating across sites, companies and geographical locations, it requires design tools that can support such setup.

BIM 360 covers all aspects of a construction project, enabling project managers, subcontractors, designers, architects, and other construction management professionals to have total control over the processes and phases of their project. From conceptualization and design all the way to the commissioning and handover, BIM 360 has all the solutions and the tools to help you and your team perform to your optimum best.

The below list of features will help guide us on developing this new content but we will also be focusing on assessing a user's knowledge of best practice workflows.

  • Quality and safety operations
  • Design reviews
  • Work assignment and tracking
  • Project control
  • Real-time project status
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Documentation
  • Full project visibility
  • Single project repository
  • Issue management
  • Construction safety
  • Change visualization
  • Deliverable coordination
  • Design collaboration
  • Multi-discipline coordination
  • RFIs and submittals
  • Controlled work sharing
  • Quality management
  • Document control
  • BIM coordination
 If you want to give any input as this new assessment collection take shape please feel free to email us here.
Other titles coming soon are:

  • MicroStation Connect / AECOsim Connect
  • Newforma advanced
  • Revit Structure Advanced

KnowledgeSmart Skills Matrix Update

With the new KnowledgeSmart skills matrix tool (currently under development) you will be able to capture the Qualifications, Certifications and Skill Levels of your staff in defined topics.

“Skills” is a collective term for an individual’s knowledge, qualifications, certifications and abilities.  The Skills Record is populated from a Skills Survey, which is built using the Survey tool.
Surveys can easily be created which are purely Skills related.  Skills specific Modules are assembled from the Skills Library questions. The construction of the Survey can be related to the role of the User.  This way a Designer may receive a different Skill Survey compared to a Project Manager

You will have the ability to issue multiple Skills Surveys. For example, one on Engineering Software Skills, one on Microsoft software, one on Business Skills, etc.

This information will be used to,
1.    Search for staff with specific Skills; required by the business for project, mentoring or training activities,
2.    Identify strengths and weaknesses in staff Skill levels. This should inform training needs, and ensure training investments are made in the correct area

The benefits of the KnowledgeSmart skills matrix will stretch from the individual to the team, the organization and even to external clients.

So just where will you start? Identifying the core set of skills your project demands or team needs is a fundamental step to any skills matrix process.

When creating your list, include:
  • Current skills or experience: The skills or experience that your team members use today to perform their role.
  • Future skills or experience: Skills or experience that your team will need in the future as you plan to use new approaches or tools.

The first phase is then to issue a skills survey whereby you ask the individual team members to provide feedback as to how they rate themselves on these skills.

There are a number of different scales available but the most common one seems to be a 5-point scale

We hope to give you a little flexibility in designing your own scale.

Your skills defined in the first phase will help you structure your actual competency assessment.

This would be the skills assessment process already in place within your KnowledgeSmart admin dashboard.

The third phase is an interesting one and often overlooked. A KnowledgeSmart Skills Survey question can also be used to get information on the User’s interest level in a Skill.  For example, a question on Revit Architecture competency could be followed by one on Revit Architecture level of interest, and/or desire for training.When people enjoy what they are doing productivity tends to rise speedily.

Survey options here might include the following two options:
  •     No interest in applying this skill or knowledge
  •     Interested in applying this skill or knowledge
We hope to have a way to allow a User’s Manager to approve the User’s self rating. A Skills Record will be created and stored for each KS User.  It will be accessible though the KS Admin and User Dashboard, and through a Team Page or Dashboard for a Manager. Once this information is available the results can be populated on a matrix. Users will be able to log in to update Skills Surveys or view Skills Survey results.

What we are hoping to achieve with the new development is to build a bridge between the above results and actual skills assessment results. We have found it very often that a user's understanding of his own skill level is very different from actual results. Managers will then gain new insight in looking at the combination of the assessment result as well as the skills survey.

From a reporting perspectice the outputs we hope to deliver include a Skills Matrix, People or Talent Finder, Heat Maps and related charts. And in light of our big focus on Microsoft PowerBI we will also make sure there is a PowerBI friendly export.

The better the data the better the insight. We will keep you updated but hope to have this development live within the first quarter of 2019.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Critical MS Excel Areas to Test – Prior to Hiring

I recently came across a great article by Kat Boogaard from GoSkills which goes through six critical things any Microsoft Excel user should know how to do.

1. Sorting Data
2. Removing Duplicate Data
3. Basic Math Functions
4. Freezing Panes
5. Date Functionality
6. Making the same change across worksheets

According to a course curriculum structured by the Macquarie University taught by Dr. Yvonne Breyer, Director, Learning and Teaching the following skills would be essential to master their beginners Excel Skills for Business Specialization:

1. Crucial navigational controls in Excel
2. Performing Calculations - formulas and functions
3. Excel Formatting Tools
4. Working with data - managing your spreadsheets
5. Optimising your spreadsheet for printing
6. Creating and modifying charts in Excel.

I am sure we can all agree that Microsoft Excel is one of the most widely used business tools today and with it becoming increasingly important to isolate the data needed as fast as possible.

During a typical interview, the panel might prompt the candidate to elaborate on their current Excel skills and possibly examples of projects they have worked on. The response from the candidate is entirely subjective and based on self-perception.

Imagine you could include a well-designed skills assessment as part of the evidence you gather to evaluate for feasibility, acceptability, and desirability. A skills assessment based on these 6 critical areas highlighted by Kat Boogard and Macquarie University?


KnowledgeSmart skills assessments are valid: they measure what they are supposed to measure. Our Microsoft Excel (amongst other) assessments offer two levels, i.e., fundamentals and advanced. From the results of these assessments, an employer or potential employer would easily be able to ascertain who has a good understanding of the program and who doesn't. Two elements are reported namely score (accuracy) and elapsed time (the time the candidate took to complete the assessment, module or specific question). 


Authored by industry experts, our assessments are reliable and consistent which means any candidate can easily be benchmarked against current employees or candidates. 


The one area that I particularly like is that independent skills assessments do not discriminate between people based on anything other than their ability to demonstrate and apply their skills.

The next time you are facing a possible new hire consider including an independent skills assessment as part of your decision matrix analysis. KnowledgeSmart skills assessments are entirely customisable which means the assessment can be adapted to your exact requirements. There are also some unique datafields that allows administrators to personalise the background data captured.

So much more than a test score

You will not only gather great insight into the candidate's skills as far as accuracy and speed of working is concerned, but you will also be able to capture a valuable background data.

Below is an example of how your KnowledgeSmart Results and Background Data can then be visualised to be placed onto a Microsoft PowerBI Dashboard if needs be. Group the background data most critical for your company,

Comparing Candidates

With all this information readily available you would also be able to plan inductions plan a lot more effectively once you have made your selection.

Microsoft PowerBI KnowledgeSmart Visualisations - Example Dashboard

Don't just take our word for it. Have a look below at what JohnsonBIM have to say.

We use KnowledgeSmart to enable our clients to recruit smarter candidates and to prove their ability; we find that it ensures better outcomes. By replacing guesswork with the KnowledgeSmart skills assessment, our clients know precisely how and where their candidates will add value to their organisation before they hire them.

Mike Johnson - Managing Director, 

JohnsonBIM, London, UK

Wednesday 29 August 2018

The #1 Question to Ask When Considering a Training Initiative

I am sure we are all in agreement that your employees, your people, are the company's most important asset. Sadly many companies place a lot of emphasis on their recruitment and interview process, and the investment stops there. Most people are expected to just get on with it. Employees only meet expectations when they are clear about what's expected and connected to the short to medium-term goals for the company.

It is, of course, true that some companies are very passionate about people development and training but get they tend to get lost in a sea of training content that managers subjectively believe their teams need to be trained on. Without focus, a quantifiable case study of why the training is mission critical right now, defined time frameworks and evident ROI's, the senior management team are not likely to sign off on any training plans anytime soon.

While training initiatives may ultimately contribute to a company's long-term success, which of them are critical to the short to medium term goals of the company.

Go through the proposed training plans and identify the ones that you believe will grow the knowledge with the power to make or break your company right now. 

Is the proposed initiative a nice to have or is it aligned with the goals and objectives the company has set for the next 3-12 months?

How critical is this training initiative for your company's success in the next 3-12 months? According to an interesting Randstad Survey, many employees are aware they need upskilling, but they are frankly not taking ownership of this. The survey reveals over a third of U.S employees have done nothing to upskill in the last 12 months, even though they knew it was important. The reasons survey respondents gave for not charging ahead with their own upskilling was as follows: 67 percent of U.S. employees say they feel they need more training and skills to stay up-to-date. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. employees say their employers have not offered and paid for anything related to upskilling. 40 percent of U.S. employees say they wouldn’t arrange for and pay out of their own pockets to upskill themselves. I would agree that employees need to take personal responsibility for their own upskilling but that employers must take more interest in enabling and encouraging them to do so.

Another insightful article worth a read is from the Harvard Review focusing on the fact that managers are not doing enough to upskill their employees for the future. This article advocates employees being invited to contribute to the process of identifying the knowledge, skills, and abilities they’ll need in the short and long run.

I would agree with a more collaborative approach, but this must always be underpinned with good objective data as employees opinions might not be precise. What we think we know and need, is sometimes very different, from our actual knowledge or what the business critically needs right now.

One such enabling tool is Degreed. Degreed is an education technology company that is engaged in enabling and recognizing professional and lifelong learning and skills. The platform allows users to learn, develop and measure their skills. Degreed is free for individuals. An enhanced version, Degreed for Enterprise, connects internal learning and talent systems to global ecosystems of free, open and paid learning resources, and is available to organizations for a fee as a hosted cloud-based solution. I recently analyzed how KnowledgeSmart background and results data could integrate with solutions like Degreed, and it was an insightful exercise.

KnowledgeSmart also recently announced a new integration with Pinnacle Series. The integration between Pinnacle Series and KnowledgeSmart allows users to evaluate their skills and have a personalized learning path assigned to expand their knowledge. Identify skills gaps and work to close them with courses specifically designed for an individual's needs.

These type of tools can help empower companies to enable their teams to upskill while being able to report useful business metrics to justify budget spend and contribute to other strategic areas beyond training and development such as project resource management and future recruitment for example.

Let's circle back to that number one question you should ask when considering a training initiative.
How critical is this training initiative for your company's success in the next 3-12 months? If the answer is not a resounding yes then it is time to reconsider and befriend the KnowledgeSmart data query tool.

Monday 30 July 2018

How do your users' Revit skills measure up?

5 Must-Know Revit Skills for Beginner Revit Users
Image Screenshot Source: http://blogs.autodesk.com/revit/
I came across a great article this morning written by Jeff Hanson called Five must-know Revit skills for beginners. Autodesk's content experience team has developed some valuable video content on the five must-know Revit skills for beginners.

The article identifies these skills as:
  • Trim and Extend Elements
  • About the Crop Region
  • Best Practices: Printing
  • About Curtain Wall Panels (Add a Door to a Curtain Wall)
  • Workflow: Select Fields for a Schedule
You can find the videos here.


 This brings me to a couple of salient questions:

  • How does your users' measure up in terms of these skills?
  • Should they be spending valuable company time watching these videos at all?
  • Are there more relevant videos based on their skill gaps?
  • What percentage of people on your team do need more training on these topics?
  • What is the percentage skill gap amongst your users?
The only way to accurately and objectively answer the above questions is through a skills assessment process. Each user starts their Revit journey with a unique set of skills and knowledge, and a one-size-fits-all training policy is hardly ever appropriate.

Skills assessment and training go hand-in-hand - always!

So could skills testing help a company align the right training? Absolutely! KnowledgeSmart customers strategically use skill-based testing to identify learning needs, highlight areas of strength and expose areas of growth both before and after employment.

 So how did I create the visual above?

I analysed some of the KnowledgeSmart demo data based on question performance. I isolated all questions with training tags linked to the 5 skill areas the Autodesk article identifies and then sorted them in order of priority in Microsoft PowerBI. Based on my industry experience and the fact that these five skills were compiled from Autodesk customer data I agreed with Autodesk's findings that these Revit skills were important for users. Looking at my results data, it would appear that worksharing, view properties, detailing and worksets were priority areas for my group.

Next I can start thinking about slicing this data based on office location or perhaps based on some of the other valuable background data that KnowledgeSmart offers. But I will save that for another day.

Focus your time and efforts and assign training where it is needed most. Increase productivity and reduce project risk.