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IFAC recently teamed up with cloudThing to offer our membership a free Digital Assessment tool that would assess an organization’s digital readiness ahead of a digital transformation project. The PAO Digital Assessment tool has been designed to measure how digitally ‘mature’ an organization is, or where they already are on their individual digital transformation journey.

The Tool will be open for PAOs to complete from November 12, 2020, to April 30, 2021. During this time, IFAC's main objective is to help PAOs complete the tool and understand, interpret, and prioritize their results. The results, (after being thoroughly anonymized) will allow IFAC, working in conjunction with cloudThing, to assess the digital readiness of the accountancy profession as a whole and strategize future support.

The Digital Assessment tool is broken down into different sections. The first section is focused on how an organization’s Culture & Capability is geared up to empower digital transformation and the second on an organization’s Vision & Strategy. The third reviews Business Systems & Automation. We recommend reading the previous articles before proceeding to Part 4 on Talent Management.

PAO Digital Assessment Tool Part 4 – Talent Management  

The fourth pillar of the digital assessment tool looks at Talent Management within an organization. It seeks to assess an organization’s ability to attract, manage, retain, and develop effective and long-term talent, both internally and externally. Although most PAOs have a function that focuses on talent attraction and retention, there are a huge variety of ways this can be done.    

Many key aspects of Talent Management can be improved through the adoption of technology. For example, adapting recruitment communications in response to changing job market conditions, analyzing trends, and automating processes.  New technologies can help PAOs ensure the cost to attract talent is as low as possible while the retaining and developing employees is made simpler through shared digital experiences.  

How Mature Is Your Organization’s Skill Framework?

A Skills Framework enables organizations of any size to describe the skills and competencies required by professionals working within their industry or sector. It allows employees’ and prospective candidates’ competencies to be understood and assessed against a standard, cross-organizational framework, which leads to clarity of business capability and professional talent development. 

Where gaps are identified across the framework, these can feed into plans for talent management, recruitment, training, or development. Benefits of a robust and accurate skills framework include:

  • Enabling an organization to scope out and describe their talent skills and competencies clearly, consistently, and efficiently which allows them to plan for future demand.
  • Using consistent language across the organization, enabling individual departments to discuss and understand each other’s capabilities.
  • Aligning salary bandings to skills and maturity of talent, which, in turn, lends itself to career development while controlling wage costs.
  • Enabling individuals to clarify their current capabilities while providing specific goals they can aim for as part of a CPD plan.
How ‘Good’ Is Your Organization at Attracting Talent?

When we say Talent Attraction in terms of the Digital Assessment Tool pillars, we mean it as a specific focus on appealing to the right people who will believe in an organization’s mission and will be passionate about what they do. Recruitment is one string in the Talent Attraction bow, but there are many others to consider, from ongoing communications about an organization’s culture to its hiring processes.

A Talent Attraction service may use an online search software, social media, communications, marketing and/or word of mouth to identify or attract candidates with extensive expertise in specific fields and industry. This is important as it can be costly to hire the wrong people. The wrong people being either those who do not understand the culture of an organization or lack the skills to do what is expected of them. Getting the right people in the right role first time then, saves a considerable amount of time and money, making an organization more productive and efficient.

To achieve that though, you need to have the right processes and digital tools in place to communicate the benefits of working for the organization and to manage the pipeline of interested applicants, even before a vacancy becomes available, all of which will help an organization achieve:

  • Reduced time required to fill a role.
  • Improved quality of candidates applying for roles. 
  • Better assessment of applicant ‘fit’ for the organization’s culture.  
  • Lower recruitment costs.
  • Reduced employee turnover.
  • Improved reputation.
  • Improved overall organizational capabilities.
How does Your Organization Manage Its Recruitment?

Every organization needs some system that allows all its individual departments to source, track, and select potential candidates that also standardize the processes across the board. Such a system should be capable of capturing activities like the sourcing and screening of potential candidates, providing interview feedback to enhance transparency in the application process, and generating useful business intelligence (i.e., turnaround times and the availability of skillsets in the marketplace, etc).                                                                                                  

Balancing Talent Performance and Retention Within an Organization

Talent performance and retention should be core to an organization’s overall strategy rather than, as it oft is, a standalone activity. Employee Performance Management is all about aligning the organization’s objectives with its employees and entails scoping out and defining an agreed set of skills, competency requirements, development plans, and the delivery of results.

From there, the activity can be evolved into Talent Performance Management by focusing on the entire pipeline of attracting, developing, motivating, and retaining productive, engaged employees. The goal should be to create a high performance, sustainable organization that can meet its strategic and operational plans through a series of processes that include:

  • Increasing the skillsets within the organization.
  • Developing consistent performers.
  • Reducing employee churn and recruitment costs.
  • Building more trust in the organization from its employees.
The Pro’s & Cons of Internal vs. External Training

PAOs are encouraged, within their CPD strategy, to make room for both internal and external training of its staff and members. Internal training, also called on-site training, is training that employees receive directly while working on the job. It can serve several wide-ranging purposes, from employers offering training to new employees on how to perform their jobs right through to acquainting them with workplace policies and environments. 

External training, on the other hand, is training delivered by an outside source or third party. This is usually because the training is too specialized to keep a trained a staff member on the books to conduct it, is only required on an ad-hoc basis, and/or there is an insufficient internal resource to deliver it in-house.

Internal training is normally extremely cost effective for an organization while external training is better suited to bringing in new ideas, best practices or new viewpoints that can empower innovation. Both internal and external training benefit an organization by increasing skills within an organization, reducing employee churn, increasing staff satisfaction, and increasing knowledge sharing, while reducing knowledge loss or gaps.

How Well Does Your Organization Reward Its Staff?

While improving an organization’s skillset should always be a business-critical goal, a framework and process to actively encourage staff to improve their own skills by rewarding them with incentives is sometimes needed. Rewards could be for a variety of personal development objectives that align with the overall objectives of the organization.  

Once the decision has been taken to reward staff, a system to manage, track, and approve personal development requests will be needed that is flexible enough to encourage staff to take a wide variety of courses. It also needs to be easy to manage and transparent enough on the rules so that the organization sees a clear return on investment. Rewarding employees for career development not only improves efficiency, productivity, and collaboration, it also ensures staff has the skills to make use of new technology while simultaneously making the organization an attractive place to work.

For example, encouraging staff to become certified in digital skills will improve productivity, while encouraging an improved understanding of the accountancy profession may benefit member satisfaction levels depending on job role. Other benefits of a reward structure include:

  • Retaining staff for longer.
  • Developing skills in-house (and saving on external training costs).
  • Ensuring early adoption of new technology by encouraging staff to learn to use it.
  • Improved reputation as an employer.
Complete Your Assessment!

Locate the email sent on behalf of IFAC Membership, with the subject line, "IFAC PAO Digital Readiness Assessment Tool Launch." Your organization's unique access link will be located within.

If you have any issues with registration, please contact for assistance. 
If you cannot locate the email, please contact

Check out IFAC’s PAO Digital Transformation Series webpage which houses helpful resources, articles and videos on Digital Transformation and is regularly updated!

cloudThing, based in the UK, is a technology company that help organizations such as the British Red Cross, The South African Institute of Accountants, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants (England & Wales) to name but a few, digitally transform by taking advantage of the automation technology available to them on the cloud.