Life is full of estimations. It’s about a mile to the destination. It’ll cost about $100. She’s about five-feet six inches. In most aspects of life, approximation is fine. But for business leaders trying to map out their company’s immediate and long-term workforce needs, “close enough” will never be good enough.
While understanding who’s presently on staff and projecting what roles and how many they’ll need to fill in the future might seem pretty straightforward, it’s not always an exact science. HR and business leaders need accurate, complete, and up-to-date information about every aspect of the business to gain a better sense in real time of the current status of the company and where there may be gaps to fill.
At the same time, they must account for a wide variety of variables like transfer requests, attrition, evolving skill demands, and both planned and actual budget spend when attempting to fill immediate needs and plan for future ones. But so much of the information they need to make informed, data-driven decisions about the workforce is related to specific individual employees rather than to positions, teams, or roles.
Worse, most of that data is locked away in a variety of spreadsheets, static organization charts, and non-connected payroll systems that turns a workforce strategy into more a workforce guessing game. That’s because in a people-based workforce planning approach — the default strategy for many organizations – data is ephemeral.
Their HR, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and payroll systems usually tie particular information about position like title, location, or pay rate directly to an employee record (as in, the person who presently occupies that position) in which the position and the person are indistinguishable. Yet, every time an employee is promoted, changes roles, or leaves the organization the employee record is altered or deleted — along with all the information about the role.
It creates significant visibility gaps and massive concerns about data quality and accuracy that make it virtually impossible to plan for both near- and long-term workforce demands.
Position management: a superior approach to insight and planning
Business leaders are increasingly wisening up to the fact that the old way of planning their immediate and long-term workforce needs is no longer sufficient in such a dynamic, rapidly changing competitive environment. And they’re recognizing that the majority of their challenges are less related to their strategies or leadership talent and more directly tied to their existing systems and processes.
In an era of high employee churn and increased competition for highly qualified and sought-after talent, agility and confident projections about available budget, open roles, and desired skill sets is paramount to business success. HR and business executives need on-demand access to rich, accurate, and complete information about every department or function across the organization so they can quickly address short-term business needs and have a clearer picture of what individual teams might need three, six, or 12 months from now.
Unlike legacy HCM solutions and ERP platforms that force teams to manually recreate entire records and databases every time someone is promoted or churns, new cloud-native HCM platforms like SyncHR HCM are built to strategically separate positional information from employee data so that vital information about a particular position remains in the database — accurate and current — even if an employee leaves.
The permanence of the data aggregated from payroll and accounting, recruiting, and other systems across the company in a position-first approach to workforce planning brings greater visibility into the current state of the business — everything from turnover rates and vacant positions to compensation models and other critical staffing metrics from a single system and location.
Shining light on the blind spots
So much of workforce planning has traditionally relied on gut instinct and executives’ personal preferences as it did on cold, hard facts. It was (and in some cases still is) nothing more than a proverbial shot in the dark or “educated guess.”
But business success — not just surviving, but thriving — in the Digital Age is predicated on having the best, most accurate, and complete information upon which to build plans for the future. Adopting a position management-based toolset and philosophy shines a light on historical blind spots so that executives and other leaders across the business can finally start making current and future workforce decisions based on verifiable, accurate, and detailed data.
It means that executives and budget owners can run on-demand headcount budget reports or create what-if scenarios to make staffing plan adjustments based on open/filled job requisitions and historical labor cost trends, confident in the veracity and accuracy of the information. It also makes it easier for anyone — HR, C-level executives, and line of business managers — to gain instant, real-time insight into current staff levels, budgets, and plans without sifting through spreadsheets or multiple systems so they can easily compare organization and financial plans with actual hiring events and expenditures.
More importantly, a position management approach ensures that historical information — previous job listings, skill profiles, and compensation levels — is archived and available to any authorized user to use for making insightful comparisons between their budgeted headcount and compensation to what they’d planned at the beginning of the year to ensure that not a dollar is left unspent in service of the company’s business goals, but also that not a cent goes to waste.
Download “Position of Power” Learn more about how a position-based approach can unburden your HR team, create greater visibility across the organization, and unleash your company’s full potential.