How to Leverage Internal Talent Mobility in SumTotal

Apr 13, 2023


Career development and advancement have been important to people in every workforce I’ve observed or been a part of in the past 30 years.

For example, the concept of systematically moving people within the organization to develop and retain them was central to talent management at Transamerica in the mid-‘90s.

Technology wasn’t up to the task

In 2006, I worked with a global industrial supply company on its succession planning program. When I suggested they might want to broaden the program to provide career paths for more of their people, they considered it and got back to me in less than a day. They said the manual work in developing succession planning was already a crushing burden. They didn't want to take on more.

In 2010, SumTotal pointed us in the right direction with a white paper, The Definitive Guide to Talent Mobility, by Steve Bonadio, but the technology didn’t exist to make it a simple, automated process.

The challenge was more than technology. Tools don't make a difference unless your firm engages in a robust conversation about internal talent.

At many low-performing organizations, talent and strategy are seen as separate channels. At many high-performing organizations, recruitment and retention and internal mobility are inextricably linked.”

-- Robin Erickson, Denise Moulton, and Bill Cleary. “Are you overlooking your greatest source of talent?” Deloitte. July 31, 2018.

Deloitte expanded on the concept in its 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report.

At the time, the external talent market was getting tighter, but most organizations still focused on external recruiting. They hadn't yet discovered that their best talent source was their people. According to the report, most employers undervalued or overlooked the talent within their organizations, resulting in employees who wanted to advance and grow going elsewhere.

Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey 2019

 Talent Mobility in SumTotal

SumTotal developed its Career Pathing tools in 2019, enabling managers and administrators to create customized career paths for their people. It’s a top-down process, but one step closer to talent mobility. Today, customers have SumTotal’s Skills Blueprint, created in partnership with Lightcast. It will supercharge upskilling, reskilling, and talent development.

With SumTotal’s existing skill-based functionality, Lightcast data enables customers to “identify, partner with, and grow talent across their workforce” with up-to-the-moment dataWhether you're starting a new skill framework or modernizing an existing taxonomy, internal and external market data in Skills Blueprint helps streamline talent development solutions, including internal mobility and career development. It provides personalized recommendations for learning and development opportunities based on skills gaps and career aspirations.

Skills Blueprint is a SumTotal add-on functionality, available in the SumTotal Marketplace.

The Value of Internal Mobility

Cornerstone’s 2023 report on talent mobility, developed in partnership with Lighthouse Research & Advisory, shows us that internal talent mobility is essential to a sound talent strategy. The report, Ready, Set, Grow, spells out how and why talent mobility can help us meet the workforce challenges we all face.

 The survey points out that visibility into opportunities has a big impact on retaining productive employees.

Lighthouse Research & Advisory 2023 Global Talent Mobility Study

Create a culture of internal mobility

To be successful, internal mobility must be central to your culture and strategy. It requires a place where employees can move between roles, enabled by

  • developing leadership support,
  • promoting learning and development.
  • improving communication and.
  • creating a culture that supports mobility and talent development.

Manager support

To create the culture, one of the first tasks is to get people managers on board.

Talent hoarding is real and tremendously impacts employee retention and engagement. Removing that barrier is critical to success. Managers need support knowing that the talent pipeline will be there for them when their key performers move on. They need to know they'll still be able to meet their objectives.

Employees need to be comfortable seeking opportunities. Most times, they want to do so anonymously. Cornerstone recommends a two-tier approach:

  1. A self-guided tool that helps employees explore opportunities in a safe space and within their own time.
  2. A targeted discussion with a manager who knows the employee’s capabilities and strengths.

Provide the tools

SumTotal has many tools that enable people to find the right opportunities, including the LMXS, Career Pathing, and Skill Assessments. Bringing those tools together, along with Skills Blueprint, has the potential to create an employee-friendly exploration experience.

Make the shift to a skills-based organization

According to Elucidate, shifting requires a gear change across your business. The new approach must be embedded in all your systems and processes, from skills-based hiring and job descriptions to talent pooling and skills assessments.

  1. Define the skills you need. How have goals and skill requirements changed since your last inventory?
  2. Inventory the skills you have. If it’s been a while since you did it, have another go at it.
  3. Map career paths for internal mobility. If you’ve already done this work in SumTotal, we recommend a fresh look to ensure your framework is complete.
  4. Build a learning culture. With SumTotal and Skills Blueprint, you’ll have all the tools you need.
  5. Guide and nurture your business leaders with data. Give your people the insights they need to make the right decisions.


By empowering your people with the right learning experiences and supporting them in new roles, you can create a competitive edge in the war for talent.

Not only will you keep more top performers, but you also will yourself apart from your competition by valuing your people and encouraging their growth.


Contact us for a free consultation on making internal talent mobility work in your organization.

You can use our calendar link or contact us directly.

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About Pixentia

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results. 

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