A DACUM provides the foundation for the development of education, training and other performance improvement interventions by using information gathered from high-performers within an occupation during a focus group process. The DACUM yields a Duty/Task Chart that lays out Areas of Responsibility (Duties) and tasks that high performers in the target position accomplish on a regular basis. The chart also provides additional information about traits, characteristics, attitudes, essential tools/equipment, and trends and/or issues that impact how high-performers do their work.
The DACUM philosophy states that high-performers are the best source for information concerning their roles or positions. The process lays a valid foundation for the development of performance interventions. When applied to education, the complete process breaks down into four phases: Planning, Blueprint, Build, and Deploy.
Phase 1 - Plan
- Articulate purpose/goals
- Select target occupation, role, or position
- Identify DACUM panel members
- Facilitate the DACUM Process
- Publish a draft DACUM chart
- Verify the DACUM Chart
- Identify external standards that apply to occupation, role, or position
Phase 2 - Blueprint
- Establish exit learning outcomes – program outcomes, core abilities, (general education outcomes-optional)
- Transform DACUM tasks (units of work) to competencies (target learning outcomes)
- Link competencies to exit learning outcomes and tasks
- Analyze each Competency for performance standards and supporting knowledge, skills, and attitudes
- Layout performance-based learning plans and performance assessments
Phase 3 - Build
- Develop learning activities
- Adopt, adapt, or build learning materials and objects
- Create a delivery plan
Phase 4 - Deploy
- Deliver the learning experience
- Assess learning outcomes
- Evaluate effectiveness of learning
- Revise the learning design (incorporate feedback from assessment)
During the actual DACUM session, high-performers are convened in a focus group panel that is led by an experienced DACUM facilitator. During the session, the high-performers brainstorm and discuss their work, coming to consensus about areas of responsibility and required tasks. The facilitator actively assists the panel members by providing guidance in the formulation of tasks statements, ensuring equal participation by all members, and coaching them to describe their work in measurable and observable terms.
The richness in quality of the information gathered during the DACUM process is predicated upon the composition and demographics of the group members and the skill of the facilitator. Focus groups have five to twelve members consisting of current, frontline, high-performers within an area. The process enables group members to articulate their thoughts and function as team players. Though it is important that frontline position holders provide the dominant input, one or two leadership/management participants add value by providing insight to future direction. Non-participants may benefit from observing the process, but they do not participate or contribute to the analysis.
Procedure for Panel Members
- Describe trends that are impacting the field.
- Identify characteristics of high-performers.
- Brainstorm the duties (major areas of responsibility) within the occupation, role, or position.
- Identify the tasks that high-performers need to do within a duty area.
- Identify key tools and equipment (often concurrent with development of tasks).
- Confirm accuracy of the group’s work.
The Advantages of the DACUM Process
- Draws on the expertise and direct experience of current high performers.
- Group interaction encourages high-performers to freely share ideas.
- Group synergy empowers members to produce a high-quality profile chart.
- Group consensus on all contributions leads to high buy-in by participants.
- Future-orientation in the identification of competence addresses current trends that will frame the future.
- A clear and easy-to-use profile chart lists areas of responsibility and tasks directly relevant to high-performance in a given area.
- The concentrated process results in time and cost effectiveness (compared to 25 to 30 days for traditional surveying methods).
- Organizations can use resulting Duty/Task Chart for:
- Creating or updating job descriptions and job profiles
- Building educational programs and offerings
- Identifying skill gaps and prioritizing education and training needs
- Ensuring that education and training resources are targeted at desired performance
- Appointing or recruiting individuals who are prepared to meet high-performance criteria
- Establishing a sense of professional ownership and pride as a result of the collaborative effort
- Helping individuals make decisions about whether or not they are prepared to serve in an occupation, role, or position
DACUM is a widely used, effective, international method of job analysis. The Experimental Projects Branch, Canada, Department of Manpower and Immigration, and the General Learning Corporation of New York designed the process in the 1960’s. Since then acceptance of the process continues to grow. Business and industry, the military, secondary and post-secondary schools, and government agencies employ the DACUM Competency Analysis Process at local, national, and international levels.
WIDS consultants have over 70 years combined experience in facilitation of DACUM Occupational Analysis. Consultants provide front-to–back coordination including planning, facilitation, verification, gap analysis, and development of learning interventions.