Workforce Planning, the Proverbial Bridge.

Last time we spoke about Workforce Planning as a stand-alone discipline apart from HR and how it is the bridge between four key sections of HR, IT, Operations and Finance that are impacted by and/or have an impact on the Human Capital of the organization.

Today we explore this relationship further. We picked up the definition of Workforce Planning from Association of Workforce Asset Management (AWAM) as the bridge for strategic, operational, financial and technological planning of the workforce in an organization. This means that a Workforce Planner must be cross-functionally competent in the four areas of Human Resource, Operations, Technology and Finance.

Lets look at this relationship through the Workforce Planning process lens. There are five key stages of Workforce Planning;

1. Strategic Planning
2. Tactical Planning
3. Operational Planning
4. Real Time Planning
5. Workforce Analytics

In Workforce Planning, our tether is the Day of Operations. Everything we do revolves around this because it is what determines how well we have achieved our goal of striking a balance of those shifting interests in our triangle of interests i.e. Business Interests, Customer Expectations and Employee Interests.

Strategic Planning happens furthest from the day of operations and is concerned with long term decisions of headcount changes and equipment acquisition. This can be from 1-20yrs ahead depending on the organization. Here, the Workforce Planner (WP) models a demand from which the long-term budgets are drawn, skill gaps identified, and technological advancements are proposed.

Because this phase of planning proposes new business and standards of engagement, HR is engaged to identify the qualifications of future workforce, skill gaps/excesses, expected financial investment in terms of salaries and the kind of contracts that will be in play. Finance is engaged in budgeting and particularly capital expenditure that is proposed for items such as equipment procurement, technological systems required, and the headcount investment changes attached to the modelled demand.

In my experience, the Operations team is the core because they set the service standards of engagement which essentially drives the demand. Case in point; for a WP to determine how many say, Customer Service Representatives are required to service customers waiting in line at a bank or a supermarket or at the airport check-in or on a call after the call has been placed on hold, the WP shall apply among other things the service times determined by the operations team to deliver the quality of service expected.

Tactical Planning falls between 6 weeks and 1 year but can vary from organization to organization depending on their structure. Here the WP defines the Shift Design which Involves computing a set of shifts to cover the demand. Shifts are then computed into stretches of working days and rest days to comply with labor regulations (the Labor Law, Company Policy, Collective Bargaining Agreements and any other regulatory bodies stipulations).

To simplify it, the Workforce Planning team together with HR and Operations will determine when employees will come to work and for how long. This process involves staff representatives and, in some industries, Labour Union representatives because of the Employee Interest in our triangle which must have HR present.

Operational Planning occurs 72hrs to 6weeks on our timeline. Here we have our supply and as we know, it is how best we utilize our resources that determines that balance of our business interests (productivity), Employee interests (working hours and off days) and Customer expectations. Staff are now given their rosters and the WP will plan for absences such as leave and training within this window.

For organizations that have Workforce Planning Systems (WPS), the WP is responsible for defining the rights for those who access the system, approve and grant these rights through the IT team. HR is involved for the regulation of leave and provision of training schedules.

Day of Operations Planning is our tethering point. The WP will look 72hours into the future to anticipate any changes or challenges and mitigate these with roster changes or overtime. These can be unplanned absences like sick offs or changes in workload for instance machine breakdown in a factory or a flight delay. The WP will then assign tasks to the individual staff using the WPS to cover the Operational demand. The WP coordinates with Operations to efficiently meet the business interest and customer expectations.

Workforce Analytics will apply both in the strategic planning phase to give historical data and comes in at the end of our timeline. From the WPS reports we get the metrics measured that will tell us how well or poorly we have performed. HR’s interest is the attendance and productivity report, Finance, the labor expense report, IT, the WPS audit reports and operations is interested in all the above and in the metrics that measure how we managed to balance our triangle of interests.

The Workforce Planning team essentially becomes the custodian of these processes that cut across 4 discrete disciplines.

We touched on Workforce Planning Systems which is fundamental to the Workforce Planning process, therefore next time we look at Workforce Planning Systems and the technological advancements brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)

It doesn’t matter how many resources you have. If you don’t know how to use them, they will never be enough. – Unknown

#WorkforcePlanning #4IR #WorkforceManagement #ResourcePlanning #ManpowerPlanning
#Scheduling #HumanResources #HumanResourceManagement #Workforceplanningsystems
#4thIndustrialRevolution #Kenya #Africa #EastAfrica #FutureOfWork #5IR