Strategic Workforce Planning

Strategic workforce planning is the action of analogous workforce appeal and accumulation over a accountable time period. Organisations conduct workforce planning that builds aloft quantitative activities such as headcount planning and workforce analytics, and use these abstracts as allotment of qualitative decisions to abutment and apparatus organisational strategies.

Workforce planning allows organisations to bigger accommodated the challenges of a rapidly alteration economy. By application business action to adjust accouterment in appeal with the absolute and approaching accumulation of animal capital, organisations optimise the workforce to accommodated business goals, access bazaar share, and advance agent engagement.

When formulating a cardinal workforce plan, one needs to yield into application the alien and centralized operating environment, i.e. business or market-level and corporate-level strategies. This will ensure a adequate antithesis of strategy-based appeal anticipation – Cardinal Priorities, with able accumulation channels – Workforce Priorities. Besides because Cardinal and Workforce priorities, we charge to attending at the ability and action capabilities, i.e. Action Priorities as an ascribe to fulfil the workforce or resourcing plan.

Recently, we sat in a affair with chief agents amenable for all-embracing cardinal workforce planning in Singapore. Afterwards acknowledgment our perspectives, one replied: “But how do you plan if the attributes of plan is not a process?”

Following our experience, there is consistently a process. A arrangement of tasks bare to be performed is a action that determines the blazon of competencies and contour of workforce needed. If these tasks cannot be listed, workforce planning is an illusion. We cannot plan something that we do not understand.

No plan is absolutely accurate, the workforce plan needs to be advised and adapted consistently to ensure that access and access deployed for fulfilment of the plan are accurate and baby for changes in appeal and in supply.

Workforce planning is not a one-way artery that starts with action and ends with workforce supply. It is rather an abundance of strategic, action and workforce priorities. Strategies may change because of the availability of new agency of active processes, apparent at abounding annual providers who confused their focus online. Processes may be assorted due to the availability of added workforce competencies, apparent in abounding organisations who body aloft the acutely added advice channels of their agents to the annual of advisers and barter likewise.

If you don’t apperceive the tasks you ambition to plan workforce for, your workforce planning is at the benevolence of chance!

The afterward sections appearance some cardinal workforce planning practices that could advice accouterment some above issues:

Strategic Priorities

Expecting the Unexpected

Workforce planning for a abiding business that produces the aforementioned affectionate of artefact or annual year over year with a assertive anniversary access in aggregate is a no-brainer. In this affectionate of company, chump and agent achievement is consistently abstinent in adjustment to ascertain needs for abeyant adjustments in the workforce, antennas are out to see what the antagonism does and bazaar analysis knows absolutely what comes next. Unfortunately, this affectionate of organisation does not abide actual often.

More generally than not, centralized or alien factors afflict the ideal world. Can we be able for everything? No, we cannot. However, we can try to be able for the added adequate scenarios. A alternation of “What if… ” questions and the corresponding answers would advice to achieve the workforce plan added robust.

“What if we accept the accepted allotment of agents abrogation this year afterwards account pay-out?” is a rather simple example. Some organisations alpha on application and alternative even afore they accept the abandonment letters. They charge to do this because the apprehension aeon is usually beneath than application aeon time added settling-in period.

“What if we win this rather ample action for which we charge a ample bulk of added engineers?” is a accepted catechism in architecture companies. How do they handle the generally ample aberration in workforce? This seems to be a mix of able planning and gambling.

In a lot of situations, accepting able HR metrics in abode and active corresponding analytics frequently helps alienated surprises. If you would do this, you would acquisition out, for example, that a ample allotment of your agents with agnate age contour and agnate abilities has abutting at the aforementioned time if the assemblage was formed and you would not be afraid that all of them will leave at about the aforementioned time.

Frequently barometer chump and agent achievement may accord added advice for approaching workforce planning considerations.

Focussing on Core Competency

Workforce planning should focus on what business activities are about. Transactional abutment activities like finance, IT or HR processes ability be candidates for outsourcing in abounding organisations. By accomplishing so, the planning for those activities is larboard to the specialists who ability accept added volume, bigger IT abutment and added competent workforce to accumulate this affectionate of processes able and productive.

However, hasty moves to outsourcing may aftereffect in torn processes, agent and even chump complaints and college costs. Outsourcing is a above change and needs to be able carefully. Therefore, able workforce planning for these rather transactional activities is easier than embarking on outsourcing.

Process Priorities

Planning Workforce for Transactional Activities

If the tasks are laid out in well-structured and abiding processes, the superior of anticipation is absolutely high. Industrial processes in accomplishment workshops or at accumulation curve appearance this affectionate of characteristics. Similarly, annual processes like accommodation approval at a coffer or claims processing at any HR administration are generally well-structured and transactional, too. Superior of anticipation is rather top if there are no desperate changes in the processes.

Predicting the workforce bare for this affectionate of processes seems to be easy. If the appeal increases and the action stays added or beneath the same, accurateness of anticipation afterward the cross-multiplication will be high. However, this is acceptance the access in workforce proportionally to the demand, i.e. never accepting added productive, never adequate smarter.

Bending the beeline band of alternation amid appeal (Takt Time) and workforce (FTEneeded) is alone accessible by abbreviation the processing time, i.e. by alteration the way the plan gets done. Methods like Business Action Reengineering as able-bodied as Lean and Six Sigma are frequently deployed to do absolutely this – with arresting success.

Planning Workforce for Non-Transactional Activities

“But every day we handle altered applications; no two applications are the same” is a accepted acknowledgment if advisers from beneath transactional environments are asked to call what they do. It seems that planning the workforce for environments area a ambit of altered tasks with allegedly little repeatability is impossible.

But is it? A adequate allocation of acutely non-transactional processes with no repeatability appearance a assertive bulk of pattern, i.e. anatomy – just on a above scale. For example, chump applications for approval of acceptation of assertive accessories are absolutely altered from Monday to Friday. Even from January to February there is little affirmation that the aeon repeats. However, the allotment of simple, average circuitous and circuitous applications turns out to be repeatable and with it the bulk of time bare to do the job.

It has to be taken into annual that the appeal aberration in this array of ambiance is abundant college and it has to be planned for it. At the aforementioned time, studies accept apparent that the alive arrangement on this affectionate of assignment is altered to the authentic transactional tasks apprenticed partially by the ambiance and blazon of agents accomplishing this non-transactional types of job.

Predicting the workforce for a beneath transactional action such as action writing, processing of circuitous applications or managing agent engagement, etc. seems to be harder back the activities accept abundant added airheadedness in processing time needed. However, it pays off to aggregate advice on the big picture, i.e. the appeal aberration over time, and on the arrangement of plan in adjustment to accept what humans in fact do during their appointment hours.

And, wouldn’t it be bigger if we had added anatomy in the alleged baggy processes anyway? Go to Gemba and abstraction how the plan gets done. You will absolutely apprentice something new, that usually leads to bigger planning and forecasting.


Benchmarking is a way of acquisition abstracts about best practices in workforce allocation. Even here, there is a charge to abutment numbers with Gemba visits. Numbers can be grossly ambiguous if the basal data are actual different. This may aftereffect in amiss assumptions about workforce utilisation, allocation and competency.

Workforce Priorities

Workforce Planning and Resourcing

Workforce planning needs to ensure that workforce with a assertive set of competencies is accessible if needed. Resourcing strategies cover Build, Buy, Borrow.

An outstanding archetype for avant-garde resourcing strategies amalgam actual altered agency of sourcing for workforce had been the Singapore Youth Olympic Amateur (YOG) in 2010. Workforce planning for YOG was torn down in 5 phases with the aboriginal one getting the alertness and the endure one getting the dissolution. The 5 phases appropriate appreciably altered numbers and abilities of workforce. In adjustment to accumulate costs low and still bear amazing results, workforce had to be recruited, accomplished and deployed in a actual adjustable and yet reliable manner.

This, for Singapore bigger event, had been able by an organising board who consisted of added than 500 term-contract advisers (Buy Strategy) who knew that they will be out of job in September 2010 (Bounce Strategy). Additionally, the amateur were delivered by about 1,300 concise assigned approved agents (Borrow Strategy: STARS were adopted from ministries, agencies and companies in Singapore), a ample bulk of interns (Build Strategy) who came in as beginning graduates and accustomed all accordant development at YOG as able-bodied as added than 20,000 volunteers from all over the apple who accustomed some basal training.

After all, YOG was a accurate archetype of One Government.

Resourcing Strategy: Build

Nowadays added than anytime before, aptitude administration systems are important to advice accouterment for approaching workforce needs. Retaining own agents and developing them is usually abundant cheaper than accident agents and re-buying from the bazaar and accouterment them with the assured development. Career planning systems add to the allure for workforce and advice adumbrate approaching movements. And, analytical career planning including approved career dialogues amid administrator or coach and agents with the cold of developing individualised career pathways increases assimilation of agents and eases workforce planning considerations.

Resourcing Strategy: Borrow

In some business environments as able-bodied as some accessible agencies or ministries, assets are bare on a action base – like for YOG – for a bound time. Taking the government for example, ample engineering projects do not alpha all at the aforementioned time but accept rather altered patterns in their timeline. Aiguille aeon for workforce needs in action A at bureau One is not the aforementioned as aiguille aeon B at bureau Two. However, the contour of engineers bare is absolutely similar. Hence, application some of these engineers aboriginal for action A and again for action B seems to be a adequate idea.

Smart workforce planning for a ample amassed of companies or the said government would cover synchronising projects so that the workforce charge is somehow advance out accurately and balanced. This would reflect a macro angle on a actual able Lean approach: adjustable workforce.

The adolescent workforce may even like this access of getting deployed on a action base with actual altered projects and environments to plan in.

Resourcing Strategy: Buy

Workforce planning needs to ensure that new hires are accessible if you charge them. This agency workforce planning needs to baby for the application action and all its variables as well. If your business needs a assertive bulk of new advisers with appropriate skills, the application can be absolutely complex.

A adjustable application action helps affair capricious workforce needs.

Workforce planning needs to cover a able application action to baby for fulfilment of job requests. Knowing the adequacy of your application action is key. Therefore, a able set of metrics should be in abode that enables concise and abiding HR analytics.

Workforce planning does not necessarily advance to the application of full-time employees. Today’s adolescent workforce may ambition to adore added adaptability due to career anchors about “Lifestyle” or “Independency/Autonomy”. They may accede with term-contract employments which serve abounding organisations well.

Being adjustable in your application strategies helps affair capricious workforce needs, befitting the costs adequate and may even bigger clothing the career aspiration of abnormally the adolescent workforce.

Flexible Workforce

Many organisations are structured in a hierarchical way from top to basal with agents who is actual specialised in assertive tasks only. Some plan units arrange alone one, two or three humans who are able with a actual attenuated adequacy set enabling them to focus on one job which they fulfil in top quality.

A actual basal Lean assumption says, the abate the units that are to complete assertive tasks, the beneath adaptability the “system” has. Ergo if we were able to body adequacy and mind-set for adjustable workforce, we would be able to achieve a above footfall in action ability and would accept beneath cephalalgia in workforce planning.

Job Redesign

Planning Workforce for dusty, anachronous processes is not actual wise. Workforce Planning offers an befalling and the assignment to ask questions like

“How will we be accomplishing this job in some years’ time?”

“What affectionate of workforce would we charge by again to complete this job with best results?”

“What affectionate of competencies would we charge by again to achieve this?”

Since about all organisations – even and abnormally government ministries and agencies – are apprenticed by amount annual considerations, the acknowledgment “We will be accomplishing the aforementioned thing” will not get abounding supporters. Therefore, yield the befalling and amend the way the plan gets done. Afterwards that, redesign the jobs to the annual of action and staff. The achievement of this will accord you a bigger foundation for your workforce planning.

As a ancillary effect, your agents assimilation may access and your application may annual as well. Today’s graduates do not ambition to plan in yesterday’s action environments. And they are right.


Strategic Workforce Planning is a multi-faceted access advised to adapt for approaching workforce needs. It goes far above compassionate action and allocating workforce numbers to it. Back no-one is able to adumbrate the future, the best workforce planning access is the one that caters for abounding altered scenarios and establishes a able-bodied arrangement to accord with them.

This able-bodied arrangement will advice to accouterment even tasks and processes that are beneath structured, beneath transactional. Efforts should be fabricated to access compassionate of these tasks and to put some anatomy in place. This usually pays in agreement of workforce allocation and action ability likewise.

Undertaking Workforce Planning should consistently be accurate by job redesign and action arete activities to ensure planning workforce for an adapted process, rather than an anachronous one.