Agency Skills Management

Navigating Skills Management in Agencies: Balancing Staffing and Resources

Matti Parviainen


Skills management in agencies is all about getting the right people on the right projects at the right time and developing your team's expertise to a direction that's inline with market demand. We're taking a look at how this fits into the bigger picture of resource allocation and staffing.

What's Skills Management All About in Agencies?

Skills management? It's basically making sure your team's talents and skills are used in the best possible way. Think of it as the heart of resource management and staffing – it's where you figure out who's best for each project and how to make the most of everyone's abilities. For a more generic introduction to skills management, we recommend reading our article The Essentials of Skills Management for Beginners

When to Start Focusing on Skills Management

When your agency is small, you know your people in and out, their strengths and weaknesses. There's no need for robust skills management practices. However, once your team grows to a size where staffing discussions are filled with questions like, "does anyone in the company know technology X?" or "Has someone worked in the industry Y in the past couple of years?" you know it might be time to put the first skills management processes in place.

Key Tactics for Succeeding With Skills Management

  1. Keep Track of Skills: Have a solid list of what everyone's good at. This list is your go-to for matching people with projects that need their specific skills.
  2. Smart Staffing Choices: When you're deciding who does what, think about the project's needs, how complex it is, and who's available. Mix and match based on what's needed and who's got the right skills.
  3. Match Personal Goals with Projects: People do their best work when they're doing something they like. So, try to line up projects with what your team members are into and their career goals.
  4. Tech Tools are Your Friends: Use software that helps you see who's available and what they're good at. It's a lifesaver for planning and makes sure you're not double-booking anyone.
  5. Build Teams That Click: Create teams that have a good mix of skills, experience, and ways of working. Think about who works well together and how they can complement each other’s strengths.
  6. Never Stop Learning: Encourage your team to keep learning new things. It keeps them sharp and ready for new challenges.
  7. Be Clear and Fair When Staffing: Let everyone know how you decide who works on what. It's all about being fair and making sure everyone understands the process.

A lot of the matters discussed here are a key part of Operating Method - our guide on how to run a professional service company. We recommend you to check it out!

Why focus on Skills Management in the First Place

1. Helps Bridge the Skill Gap

Effective skills management is crucial for identifying and addressing skill gaps within your agency. By understanding the current capabilities of your team and comparing them to market needs, you can pinpoint exactly where improvements are needed. This allows for targeted training and development, making sure that your team has the right skills to meet project demands and client expectations.

Keeping your skills inventory fresh and in sync with the latest market trends is crucial for staying competitive and ready to face new challenges. That's the main reason why we focus on skills management.

2. Improves Resource Allocation and Utilization

One of the most tangible benefits of skills management is the fact that your resource allocation and utilization start to improve. By having a clear understanding of your team's skills, you can (quite evidently) allocate the right people to the right projects. A bonus is that quality of work increases, as people are working on the thing they excel in and are excited about.

3. Increases Employee Retention

Employees tend to stay longer with companies that recognize and value their skills and provide opportunities for growth. In essence, when people get to work with skills they enjoy using, it doesn't just make the team feel good about what they're doing; it also builds loyalty. This means fewer people leave, saving you the hassle and expense of finding and training new people.

4. Knowing Who to Recruit and What to Sell

Good skills management puts your agency ahead of the game in hiring and growing your business. Knowing your team's strong points and where they need a boost helps you figure out what skills to look for in new people. A good capacity forecast that uses skills data as enrichment is a lifesaver for your recruitment team! At the same time, you can inform sales which skills are in high and low demand, to make sure the team prioritizes the right activities, when contacing new prospects and discussing with existing clients.


Effective skills management is essential for a growing agency's success. It ensures the right fit between team members and projects, leading to better performance, client satisfaction, and overall efficiency. This strategy not only improves current project outcomes but also steers your agency's future direction. It's key for identifying skill gaps, optimizing resource allocation, retaining talented employees, and guiding your recruitment and sales. Ultimately, prioritizing skills management means investing in your agency's most vital asset—its people—and securing its long-term growth and competitiveness in the market.

Matti Parviainen photo

Matti Parviainen is the chief product officer at Operating. He's trained hundreds of consultants on what it means to build trust, earn the right to advise, and how to build relationships.


Download our Operating Routine for Staffing

Agencies and consultancies of all sizes – from a boutique to an international powerhouse – should operate efficiently. We wrote a Staffing Routine and a solid agenda for your weekly meeting. Get the guide.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.