SFIA: the Skills Framework for the Information Age

If you need to build IT job descriptions, you need to know about SFIA.

Pronounced like the name “Sophia,” SFIA is a compendium of IT skills grouped into categories and levels. It is brilliant. If you get a free license (for internal organizational use only), you can download not only the PDF framework description but also an Excel file that you can copy and paste from.

There are 96 skills, for example “Database Design.” SFIA provides a description of this skill generally.

Then, SFIA has 7 levels of competency for its skills that roughly correspond to how independently people can perform that skill. Level 1 would require detailed work instructions (think pulling tapes out of a backup machine); level 7 is extremely hands-off and strategic and can make huge organization-impacting decisions.

Only a few of these 7 levels make sense for each skill; “Database Design” for example wouldn’t have a meaningful level 1 or 2 definition. You have to be able to independently design databases. But for each level that makes sense, SFIA provides follow-up description and guidance that contrasts the levels.

SFIA lists skills, not job descriptions; you can imagine one job having the “Database Design” and “Database Operation” skills, for example. But SFIA specifically addresses IT service management skills such as change management, and generally is good at calling out process-oriented skills.

SFIA is the most hands-on guidance I know of to help you in building your IT job descriptions and organizational structure. Potentially it can help you in building job levels, too, for example the difference between a junior DBA and a senior DBA.