17 Adapting an existing framework

Adapting an existing framework with the toolkit

Perhaps your competency framework is due for revision, or you have had some feedback that your current format is not meeting the needs of some of your users. Whatever the case may be, you can use this toolkit and the templates as a resource to plan and revise an existing framework.

Process Steps and Considerations

(Click on each process step heading to show/hide the details for that step)



Templates for this stage: Competency Framework Development Canvas

Main activities at this stage:

  • Discovery – review the toolkit and determine what sections apply to the competency framework for revision
  • Identify any missing information (may be in related documents and/or resources) in the framework. For example, do the competencies contain performance criteria? Supporting information about skills, knowledge and context? Links to training, courses and/or learning resources? Are assessment methods identified?
  • Background research – gather existing documentation and known missing information

Important considerations at this stage:

  • Determine the purpose from the onset – what problem(s) are you trying to solve by using the toolkit?
    • What is the purpose or use of the competency framework?
    • Who is the end user? Has that changed over time?
    • Is your current framework simple or complex? Does that need to change?
  • Does anyone else have a framework/competencies that you could reference?
    • Has anyone else developed one you really like?
    • It is often easier to repurpose and adapt something rather than create from scratch
  • Beware of development fatigue and a need for change management strategies.
    • Is anyone resisting change to the framework?
    • Are you continually going back to the same small group for input?

Templates for this stage: Competency Authoring Template and Competency Framework Development Workbook

Main activities at this stage:

  • Task analysis – what’s changed since last time?
  • Map current competencies and categories to templates. Consider the following:
    • Taxonomy levels – How many are there? Does the taxonomy make sense considering the purpose?
    • Can you identify the competencies in the current framework? If not, what is considered a competency and how does it fit into the definitions in the toolkit?
    • Language usage- what is defined as a competency in the current framework as compared to the toolkit? You might need to do some ‘translation’ to understand what’s missing.
  • Work with stakeholders to populate missing sections; take opportunity to examine wording and structure for usability
  • Consultation with subject matter experts – ensure there are some new faces and some involved in previous work
  • Validated revised framework with broader stakeholder group

Important considerations at this stage:

  • Ensure input from a broad group for validation, including those who participated initial development.
  • Manage scope changes – some may be necessary but keep the purpose of the framework in view
  • Use a “Goldilocks” approach in defining competency and activity groupings (not too big, not too small)
  • Input and validation need to capture a wide range of perspectives, and be checked for unconscious bias.
    • Who is the framework for?
    • How will they use it?
    • Did we invite them to participate in developing it? If not, how do we ensure their input during validation?

Main activities at this stage:

  • Final editing
  • Preparing for distribution (print, digital)
  • Publish revised framework
  • Socializing/promoting to intended audiences

Important considerations at this stage:

  • Which formats are you publishing your framework in? Are the same as before or are you using different channels after the revision?
  • Flexibility and adaptability – these have to be “living documents”
    • Does the framework need to allow for additions later on?

Main activities at this stage:

  • Plan a revision cycle and frequency after publication – useful for both ensuring currency and engagement of stakeholders
  • Gather feedback on usability and any errors or omissions. Did you accomplish the changes you set out to make?
  • Monitor for changes that may impact the competency framework (changes in technology, occupational scope, etc)
  • Ongoing maintenance – what have you learned from previous revisions that can be applied in the future?
  • Funding model – do you have the resources to keep the framework current?
  • Who owns the framework and is responsible for maintaining it?


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eCampusOntario Open Competency Toolkit Copyright © 2021 by Dennis Green and Carolyn Levy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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