Launching a New Industry Standard: The SPE Competency Management Tool

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SPE, IHRDCThe oil and gas industry has focused on building and implementing competency management systems and processes for decades – most notably, following the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea in 1988. We tend to see competency programs implemented with increased rigor immediately followingsuch disasters, when governments increase regulation to improve the industry’s safety culture and corporation’s fear of unknown employee and contractor competency is heightened. Although increased regulation forces operators and contractors to commit to implementing such programs, they often skew toward compliance oriented training rather than long term competency assessment and employee development programs.

Indeed, competency management programs are harder to implement and sustain, because they require a long-term management commitment rather than the more limited focus on satisfying mandatory training requirements. Whereas compliance or mandatory training is satisfied with training course completion, competency development insists on the re-assessment of individuals at the worksite to demonstrate the development of competence after the learning intervention. Thus, by nature, a competency management process must allow enough time for the entire assessment > development > re-assessment cycle to unfold, forcing companies into the long term development of their staff. By nature this requires a consistent, diligent application of the process with sustained investment by the company and unwavering support from senior management. Unfortunately, the modern mobile workforce presents companies with a systemic challenge of how best to implement and maintain a competency management program.

Competency Management Tool, oil and gas, SPE, SPE ATCE, IHRDC

Brad presenting at the SPE Booth at SPE ACTE

I am delighted to advise you that a new “tool” exists for you to create and implement your own personal competency management process. IHRDC, after carefully planning, has joined with the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) to create the SPE Competency Management Tool (CMT), a competency management system that is now available free of charge to the entire SPE membership. This innovative joint initiative was formally launched at the SPE Annual Technology Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) on October 27, 2014 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where I had the honor of introducing the tool to members three times per day. Two hundred members signed up at the meeting and, since then, more than 1000 SPE members have logged into the SPE website and registered as a user of the CMT. Over 500 members have started a personal self-assessment, with 174 having completed the process.

As the leading professional society for engineers in the oil and gas industry, SPE is well placed to create and provide a competency management process and set of standards for the industry. Members  can now register for the CMT, select the appropriate job competency model, assess themselves, identify competency gaps, enroll in SPE courses to eliminate these gaps, and take their personal competency profile with them as they move  from one employer to the next.

The opportunity is now available for companies to adopt the industry standard SPE CMT as their division or corporate-wide competency management system, thus reducing the time and effort needed to implement a competency management process. In addition, by adopting a common set of competency standards across their organizations, companies can pick up an individual’s development progress where their last employer left off.

SPE’s CMT consists of specially tailored and SPE approved forms of IHRDC proprietary resources including CMS Online, as the competency management system, and 22 Competency Models in 6 Disciplines as shown below.

Competency Management Tool, oil and gas, SPE, SPE ATCE, IHRDC

At the outset, the project scope was limited in size to ensure a practical solution was brought to market efficiently and to test industry adoption. As such, the initial launch included jobs typically required of operators in our industry. In 2015, the set of job competency models could be expanded to include service companies and targets for university graduates. In addition, the models will be translated into one other language and a competency test capability will be utilized in the SPE CMT.

The SPE Competency Management Tool initiative is transformative by nature. We now have a tool, process and set of resources that not only supports the SPE’s mission to “provide opportunities for professionals to enhance their technical and professional competence,” but also truly provides each SPE member with a common set of competency standards to guide his/her professional development and companies within the industry with a core set of competencies that establishes a unified industry standard. We are honored and excited to be working with SPE on this transformation and look forward to hearing to your feedback on the initiative!

To learn more about the SPE CMT, please view the informational video on YouTube.

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Brad Donohue

Brad R. Donohue is Vice President of Competency Management for IHRDC, which includes quality assurance, marketing, and project management for IHRDC’s Competency Management group. Mr. Donohue has performed as Project Director for multiple competency implementations around the world and, in doing so, has transformed IHRDC’s approach to competency management setting new standards industry-wide. Mr. Donohue led the design and development of IHRDC’s CMS Online web-based application, now the upstream industry-standard for competency management online systems. In addition, Mr. Donohue manages IHRDC’s finance group, which includes managing financial performance, capital structure, shareholder relationships, and the budgeting process. Mr. Donohue has a broad management, business, and technical background in both the private and public sectors. In 2002 he worked for Merrill Lynch in Strategy and Product Development, and from 1997 to 2000 he was a Program Manager and Mechanisms Engineer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Naval Center for Space Technology in Washington D.C. Mr. Donohue has an MBA and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, both from the University of Virginia, and has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification.

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