Designing a Competency Framework for one of the Largest Global Port Operators

Background and Challenge

The client, one of the largest port operators in the world, wanted to create a competency framework (consisting of generic competencies, technical knowledge and skill sets) for its flagship port.

Approach and Recommendations

To design the competency framework, UC adopted the following approach:

  • Conducted a diagnostic study for understanding the different roles and responsibilities across the organisation -

    1) Conducted in-depth discussions with key personnel

    2) Analysed the current set of roles and responsibilities to create job activities for each distinct function in the port

    3) Created job descriptions which would span one or more job activity, for all distinct positions across various departments

  • Defined and mapped levels of generic competencies and technical knowledge and skill sets, based on the job activities, job descriptions, and expected growth plans of the organisation -

    1) Conducted a pilot across functions to define the competencies and levels within

    2) Mapped technical knowledge, skill sets and generic competencies for each position

    3) Defined a competency framework and mapped it across all positions


The client received a detailed understanding of the port and the analysis of the different job activities resulted in identification of the following:

  • Different job grades performing same job activities
  • Different positions/designations performing the same job activities
  • Positions/designations with insufficient value addition for the organisation
  • Process gaps, resulting in potential revenue leakage
  • Departmental structural flaws resulting in re-structuring of certain departments, in coordination with the department heads and management team

The client also obtained a detailed competency framework consisting of technical knowledge/skill sets and generic behavioral competencies, with multiple levels mapped against each distinct position across the organisation. Also the competency framework provided the groundwork for defining a competency based implementation plan as follows:

  • Uniform and precise communication of expected work output from each position across the organisation
  • Examination of job families, grades and impact on compensation
  • Definition and implementation of a performance management system
  • Identification of training and development program
  • Recruitment/selection of candidates