How to Make Workforce Planning a Daily Practice

As we approach a new year, thoughts turn to how businesses can grow and develop their talent pools in 2014 and beyond. Global workforce planning was top-of-mind at the HR Tech Europe Conference, and also a discussion among customers at our recent Workday EMEA HR Executive Advisory Board meeting.

As we approach a new year, thoughts turn to how businesses can grow and develop their talent pools to support overall growth. Global workforce planning was top-of-mind at HR conferences I recently attended in both the U.S. and Europe.

One of the most interesting topics at these events was around the idea that workforce planning isn’t a static thing that can be commandeered from a spreadsheet at the beginning of a fiscal year. The goal for many global, forward-thinking organizations is to make workforce planning a daily practice.

What does it mean to practice workforce planning daily? First, consider some of the big questions global companies are grappling with. They may be along the lines of:

  • Can we reduce costly international assignments and still meet company growth goals?
  • What is the best location for a new distribution plant that allows us to stay within our budget for that region?
  • Which levers do we push to meet sales targets in various countries—recruitment, retention, or internal promotion?
  • Can we source the local talent we need to grow our business in a new region as quickly as our business wants to?

Organizations must have in place long-term talent strategies, but those strategies are no good if they are tucked away and forgotten about. Business leaders and their teams have to be able to make workforce decisions on a continuous basis that are in line with those strategies. We live in a world where talent pools, market opportunities, the competition, and regional economies and regulations constantly fluctuate, requiring agility and flexibility in workforce decision making.

So how do you go about daily workforce planning? The first step is to have an HCM system in place that makes it possible. Management teams must have access to relevant talent data and other applicable information from whenever and wherever they happen to be. That is why we designed Workday from the beginning with workforce planning and analytics built into a single cloud-based system for HR and finance, not as a separate bolt-on application. Customers also can bring external data into Workday so they can analyze their workforce data with labor market, salary, and productivity data to answer those big talent planning questions.

The next step is to realize workforce planning doesn’t stop with having the right product in place—it’s a discipline that must be practiced. Being able to run reports within your core HCM system is a new concept, and HR and business leaders will need to lead the cultural shift that requires people to think more analytically about how they go about hiring and transitioning talent on a continuous basis.

That requires a new mindset at the requisition process, too. When a manager needs to grow her team, it should be less about opening and filling a requisition and more of an ROI exercise. That includes looking at the feasibility of getting the needed skills in the desired location and for an acceptable price and making adjustments as necessary, while taking longer-term investment plans for regions and markets into account. With access to quick analyses in the HCM system in the context of the requisition, the hiring manager is now thinking like a business strategist.

A number of our customers have shared their stories about how they are using Workday for talent analytics and continuous workforce planning. This article in quotes Cyrille Charpin, senior director of HR IT at HP, about how cloud-based, self-service HR for 300,000 employees in 111 countries will “drive more data, more accuracy of data, more quality of data, which will drive better analytics.” Efforts these companies have made to recognize and commit to continuous workforce planning is going to give them a huge step up going into next year and beyond.

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