What is Workforce Planning? What to Look for in an HCM 





Uncertainty and instability have a way of making the world of work feel out of control. Why make a plan if it’s highly likely that plan will not apply when the time comes to act on it?


But this line of thinking isn’t effective in human resources. Because workforce planning — analyzing your workforce and identifying the steps you need to take to prepare for the future — has always resulted in a plan that will change. The important part is the process of planning, analyzing, and projecting those needs so that you can pivot at any moment to respond to change.  


Today, we’d like to explore how the modern HCM, and especially position management, supports the four core foundations of workforce planning

  • Supply analysis

  • Demand analysis

  • Gap analysis

  • Solution analysis


As a result of this article, you’ll understand just how much insight your organization can gain from strategic workforce planning — and what an important role a position management tool like SyncHR can play in making those plans actionable even amidst change.  


Strategic Workforce Planning Step #1: Supply Analysis

All good planning starts with a benchmark. In this case, the benchmark is set by a supply analysis, which assesses an organization’s talent as it currently exists. A supply analysis is an important part of talent planning because it shows you the supply of labor and skill that you already have on hand, as well as important demographic and protected class information. This analysis will also provide projections of attrition from sources like the following: 

  • Resignation

  • Retirement

  • Transfers

  • Promotions

  • Terminations 


Supply analysis also reveals how important it is to use an HCM with position management. Because without a platform based on position management, all position data is tied to a person, not a position. This means your organization loses all of the data associated with your workforce when any of those forms of attrition takes place and a person leaves a role.


Keep Reading: What is HR Position Management?


Strategic Workforce Planning Step #2: Demand Analysis

Demand analysis looks past your organization’s current state to consider what might be needed in the future. This forecast looks at business needs like new product lines and expansions, as well as employee-specific factors, like retention, engagement, and professional development. Then it pulls all this data together to see how external factors like skill availability and talent pipelines will affect your ability to meet this demand. 


Demand analysis reveals an incredibly convenient and helpful function of using an HCM built on position management. Because it allows an organization to seamlessly create interactive sample org charts based on all those future scenarios and compare and contrast how it would affect the organization. It also connects this position data with compensation data so that your projections can include budget information dated exactly as you need it. This is helpful when considering the formation of new teams with promotions taking effect only at certain dates during a calendar year. 


Keep Reading: How to Report on Budget vs. Actual in SyncHR Payroll


Strategic Workforce Planning Step #3: Gap Analysis

At the gap analysis stage of talent acquisition planning, critical thinking comes into play. You’ll compare your supply analysis to the demand analysis and try to predict any challenges that might be up ahead to protect your organization from not being able to get the talent you need when you need it. You’ll also look at each of those potential future scenarios based on new products, competitors, and market factors to see how you might need to pivot your talent acquisition planning. 


Again, position management is pivotal here.  By giving you access to dynamic org charts that can quickly visualize your best-laid plans, position management allows your HCM to be a tool of projecting, not just reporting. Using this data, you can map out the roles you’ll need in different scenarios, click and drag to fill them with existing talent, and get a sense of who will be missing when the time comes to act. 


Strategic Workforce Planning Step #4: Solution Analysis

“You can have all the latest technology you want, but if you don’t have the talent behind it, your business is not sustainable,” said Ed Gordon, author of Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skill Crisis in an interview for Training Magazine. This quote perfectly encapsulates the goal of solution analysis, which brings all this information together to figure out the best path forward, which might include any of the following: 

  • Recruiting

  • Training and retraining

  • Contingency, temp, and part-time employees

  • Freelancers, consultants, and outsourcing


The position management function within your HCM will allow you to identify which positions are likely to be filled by existing staff and which are likely to be open, giving you a big picture look at which of these strategies will make the most sense for your goals, budget, and timeline.


Keep Reading: 3 Ways Position Management Can Help Companies Navigate Uncertainty


The value of planning, even if it doesn’t result in a plan

The purpose of talent acquisition planning and workforce analysis is not to create a plan. It’s to make sure your organization is prepared to pivot in response to any scenario that might come up. A flexible, intuitive HCM built on position management is the most effective way to make sure you have the talent you need when you need it — even during unprecedented times of change.  

Learn more about position management by downloading our new guide, “A Position of Power” today!



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Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach turns cutting-edge research and data into captivating HR technology marketing content. She loves to consider the possibilities of humanizing, organizing, and minimalizing all things HR, and her writing helps HR executives and professionals develop their instincts and arrive at actionable insights for employee engagement and business performance.

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