number of software programs are available that can help assess workers in an agency, match skills with open positions and pick the right person for the job. Some of the products available include Workforce Vision from Peopleclick; ExecuTRAK from HRSoft; and MyHRIS from NuView Systems.

These programs wont take the human factor out of gauging whether an individual is right for the job, but they can eliminate some of the guesswork, according to Jones. "The software doesnt show how an individual performs in the course of a days work," she said, "but it can gather and help analyze a persons skills, interests and what theyve learned from prior positions and from working with past managers."

For example, Workforce Vision can help perform a gap analysis, so managers can find out where their weaknesses are in terms of existing staff versus future needs. The software can help HR executives analyze competencies among staff and will graphically display who the top performers are and help them move up within the agency. According to Peopleclick, the software helps an agency look beyond simple skills checklists and to identify talent based on performance and competency profiles, as well as to align succession plans with employee career paths, so that the two dont diverge when growing numbers of older workers begin to retire.

But succession-planning software isnt cheap. It can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000, depending on the size of the agency and the scope of the planning project. According to Peopleclick, the IRS is the only government agency to use its succession planning software. But given all the potential problems states face as their workforce ages, any resource that may help down the road is worth the investment, because even the best thought out plans arent going to make the problem go away any time soon.

"Solving many of these issues takes time," Iowas Anderson pointed out. "You cant create a skilled IT worker or increase the supply of workers over night. Its going to take years to fix this."

Tod Newcombe  |  Features Editor