benchmarking competence systems

action research case study

I was asked to benchmark competence systems in a regional cluster of 17 chemical, refining, and pharmaceutical plants, subject to the COMAH regulations.

I designed a benchmarking structure and conducted on-site/telephone interviews at all the plants to establish current systems, and technical differences between the sites. I analysed the data to identify examples of good practice, scope for knowledge-sharing, and critical gaps in provision.

I designed and facilitated a workshop to feed back the findings, share best practice, and agree a shared competence-system framework which could accommodate legitimate differences. I subsequently summarised the best practice as guidance notes to support the framework.

I then worked with five of the companies to develop pilot skills matrices, to build their understanding of how to tackle the most critical gaps. I designed and ran on-site workshops with staff at all levels to define precise responsibilities and interactions between people during critical activities, assimilated these into a generic matrix for transfer to the rest of the cluster, and tested it with company specialists.

I then converted the matrices into a computer program so that plants could assess risks in their own situation – distributed it, and trained site training managers to use the technique.