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How Long Does It Take To Implement Competencies?

By Sarah Beckett on August, 21 2015
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Sarah Beckett

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from HR professionals exploring using competencies is how long it takes. 

Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer, and like any HR initiative there are a number of variables that impact the outcome.

Let’s take a look at some of these key variables and four client examples to illustrate the potential impacts.

  • Complexity of the initiative: The first thing you need to examine when estimating how long it will take to implement a competency initiative is the scope of the project. For example, if your objective is to facilitate a change event in your organization, you may focus only on implementing core competencies and this can be accomplished within a fairly short timeframe. On the other hand, if you plan on rolling out competency profiles with job specific competencies for all jobs across the organization to be used as a basis for your learning and development program, this will require a longer timeframe.

  • Extent of stakeholder involvement: Another key factor is the extent of consultation with stakeholders. Stakeholders can range from job incumbents participating in profiling or validation surveys, to members of your project advisory committee. Typically the organization’s size and culture will impact the number of stakeholders you need to involve, but the complexity of the project will also be a factor. The broader the scope–the more people that will typically be involved. But keep in mind that even a project with a narrowly defined scope, like core competencies, may require extensive consultation with the entire workforce rather than just going to your executive team depending on how you approach the project.

  • Level of approval required: The more bureaucratic the organization, the more levels of approval you can expect to have to go through to get your project off the ground. This is an element that often gets forgotten in the project planning stage and should be carefully taken into consideration when planning your project roll-out.


Below are four examples of how long it took different HRSG clients to implement competencies.

Example 1: Global IT Organization

Size: 4,000 employees
Focus of initiative: Learning & development
Outcome: Development of competency-based job profiles with job family & job specific competencies for 75% of the workforce
Duration of project: 1 year

Example 2: North American HR Consultancy

Size: 80 employees
Focus of initiative: Cultural change
Outcome: Identification of core competencies for the entire workforce
Duration of project: 2 months

Example 3: North American Healthcare Organization

Size: 2,000 employees
Focus of initiative: Performance
Outcome: Development of 16 competency-based job profiles
Duration of project: 4 months (3 months to develop, 1 month to approve)

Example 4: Global IT Organization

Size: 5,000 employees
Focus of initiative: Recruitment
Outcome: Development of eight competency-based job profiles for the sales group
Duration of project: 6 months (6 weeks to develop, 4.5 month to approve)



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