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Workforce Dimensions - Business Coaching

Feb 22, 2015

Strategic Workforce Planning: Are the Foundations in place?

When I am engaged to provide advisory services to organisations whose aim is to embed a Strategic Workforce Planning process into the business, more often than not I work with a small team entrenched within the HR function. Indeed typically HR facilitate the process on behalf of the business.

Understandably, particularly if a new enablement technology option is in place and the business is looking for a swift return, this group are keen to get into 'solution mode' and roll out a process across the enterprise.

However I strongly advise my clients to pause and take time to ensure that adequate foundations are in place before engaging with the business – I've seen just too many false starts not to ask the awkward question "Are you actually ready for this?"

This is a selection of core foundational questions:

  • What is the business driver for Strategic Workforce Planning – what is it that will drive the business to work with you now?
  • Can you clearly articulate the process of strategic workforce planning – and explain how it differs from operational planning?
  • How will enablement technology be used to support the process – does your team understand the functionality?
  • Have you identified a robust framework (methodology) that is fit for purpose for your organisation?
  • Do business stakeholders understand the process – and why it's important?
  • Do you have leadership (executive level) engagement – will they actively champion your project and ensure business buy-in?
  • Do you understand your organisation's strategy – can you be part of an informed conversation with business stakeholders?
  • Which technological, legislative or other factors will affect how this strategy may be executed – how will they influence the optimum dimensions (size and shape) of the workforce?
  • Can you define the characteristics of a key job role?
  • Which are the key job roles in your organisation – now and in the future?
  • Have you catalogued the data that will be needed to support the process – is this data available, is it robust?
  • Have you crafted a sample project plan with suggested timelines – have you identified key milestones and assigned responsibilities?
  • Which KPIs will you ultimately reference to measure the success of your initiative?

If there is anxiety after this period of diagnostic questioning, my advice is three-fold:

  • Address the quantitative elements which are largely within the team's control or influence (a review of data from the core HRIS example)
  • Seek out expert advice who can articulate external best practice – reflect this as you build out a generic methodology for your organisation
  • Where there is nervousness surrounding engagement with the business, run a pilot project with an empathetic area of the organisation and work in partnership with them to test and refine a process