Best practices for strategic talent management in manufacturing organizations

JP Guay , Halogen Software

Increasingly CEOs, boards and other executives are asking human resources leaders to help achieve corporate goals by addressing a number of talent management challenges. Within the manufacturing sector, many organizations have implemented programs such as the ISO 9001 quality management system in an effort to drive profitability and competitiveness.

ISO standards require organizations to be able to identify skill sets and competencies for each job in order to maintain certification.

According to ISO 9001 expert, Lorri Hunt[i], “Meeting these requirements can be complex for organizations as HR is often disconnected from the quality management process, and likely has a number of siloed systems in place, such as Learning Management Systems, which simply track information on employee’s training. To fully comply with 2008 Clause 6.2.2, organizations need to ensure that HR has the integrated systems and tools in place to evaluate employee performance and competencies on an ongoing basis.”

Without a solid talent management strategy, it can be difficult for HR teams to map required competencies for each position, and to link skill gaps with required training.

Establishing Effective Talent Management Strategies and Systems
A strategy that puts employee performance appraisals at the centre of talent management enables manufacturing organizations to measure key areas such as product quality, demonstrate certifications are up to date, and prove that employees are competent and so on.

This performance-centric approach also enables manufacturing organizations to create a logical workflow and process map that supports ISO, and can subsequently be used to support lean or Six Sigma initiatives. 

To effectively meet ISO HR requirements and prepare for audits manufacturing organizations can use a Web-based talent management system to:

  • Automate inefficient or manual processes for the documentation of qualifications such as training, licensing, certifications, competencies
  • Centralize the storage of an employee’s credentials, training and competencies for easy access during audits   
  • Enable HR to focus on executing the talent management strategy, while giving managers resources required to properly manage and coach employees 
  • Track employee performance year-round and better demonstrate a clear link between their performance and organizational performance

With an automated system that provides development history reports and training effectiveness metrics, manufacturers can also centralize all the documentation needed to demonstrate to ISO auditors that they are meeting HR and training program requirements. For organizations focused on lean, the elimination of time consuming and expensive manual processes for HR and the organization as a whole, is particularly compelling.

Implementing the Right Talent Management System
Here are some best practices for selecting, justifying and implementing an automated talent management system for a manufacturing organization:

  • Establish organization-specific business needs and expectations.
  • Evaluate products and vendors to find the best match and use an evaluation checklist to identify must-have items.
  • Estimate the costs, savings and ROI over the next three to five years including training, hosting, maintenance, support costs, as well as soft benefits of automating talent management tasks.
  • Justify the purchase with a business case/presentation to leadership outlining business needs, requirements, options available, benefits and ROI.
  • Secure organization-wide buy-in for the system to ensure success by involving stakeholders from IT, managers, executives and other key groups.  Consider a communications plan to ease the transition.

Talent management has a critical role to play in manufacturing organizations, particularly those who have implemented quality management systems including ISO.  The inclusion of a talent management strategy along with the appropriate technology enables organization to create and automate the workflow around their process map, ensure all employees have the skills and competencies in place, and document compliance with quality standards.


When selecting a talent management solution, an evaluation checklist helps to clearly identify “must-have” items. For manufacturing organizations, several key requirements as they a related to Clause 6.2.2 include being able to:

  • Identify competence requirements for every employee in the organization, or at least those that affect product quality.
  • Adapt the system to capture all of the components of competency (eg. education, skills, training and experience) and can support the method an organizations uses to determine competency requirements for a specific employee.
  • Identify individual competence and skill gaps, and assign targeted actions, and create development plans as part of the evaluation process.
  • Initiate a competency assessment outside of the scheduled performance appraisal process.
  • Evaluate and demonstrate the effectiveness of actions taken to improve competence.

About the author:
JP Guay is a regional manager with Halogen Software. He focuses on helping HR leaders and senior management in manufacturing organizations optimize their talent management practices. He can be reached at jguay@halogensoftware.com.


[i]Hunt, Lorri. Understanding the Requirements of ISO 9001:2008 6.2.2 Competence, Training and Awareness. June 2009.



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About the Author

JP Guay is a regional manager with Halogen Software. He focuses on helping human resources leaders and senior management in manufacturing or...