In a project-driven or professional services organization, human capital is the most important asset to be managed. Not only do companies need to put the right people in the right place at the right time, but they also need the ability to forecast their supply and demand for talent, account for the differentiated time data generated by their work, and be ready to comply with regulatory requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley. Companies without a workforce planning strategy risk inefficient processes, unstructured work product, lack of collaboration, long billing cycles, and projects that are out of control. Especially in an era when talent is becoming scarce, workforce planning is an imperative for organizations whose main product is the time of its talent.
Workforce Planning Cycle. Workforce planning is an iterative discipline. The cycle of workforce planning includes filling resource requests, analyzing utilization, forecasting capacity, managing and identifying the people to fill that capacity, and then starting the cycle again. Organizations committed to managing and planning their workforce in this iterative manner will optimize their time and talent over time, because they will be equipped to look ahead and take corrective actions as needed.
Considerations in Deploying Workforce Planning. To gain the most advantage from the workforce planning system, organizations should consider the following:
- Eliminate “stovepipes,” and view the organization as a shared workforce. Doing so ensures the most appropriate talent on each project, and overcomes the “buddy system” wherein managers only use their favorite people, regardless of their skills or the needs of the project.
- Make workforce planning bidirectional and collaborative. Get involvement from many users when outlining requirements and selecting a system, to ensure widespread adoption. Consistent participation by employees at all levels is critical to success.
- Model demand and supply. Measure gaps and plan to fill them. Use the system to answer important questions like “Do we have the right talent to meet upcoming demand?” and “Are billable resources being used optimally?”
- Close the “intelligence loop.” Workforce planning helps tie operations to business strategy, and provides executives with the decision-making tools they need to identify risks, support growth, and become profitable.
- Understand your scalability and flexibility needs. In change-oriented, fast-moving industries, organizations need the ability to alter business processes quickly, in response to regulatory and market changes. Workflows should be easy to configure without programming.
The Power of Collaborative Workforce Planning. The optimal workforce planning system is a collaborative platform that serves as a system of record for the customer, the project, and the workforce. It has an intuitive workflow engine that adapts to business processes. It allows managers to find the most qualified resources based on configurable, flexible criteria. And, it provides a complete view of the organizations human capital that enables actionable intelligence.
For more details about project management and Sarbanes-Oxley, see Rise of the Project Workforce.
Rudolf Melik is the author of The Rise of the Project Workforce: Managing People and Projects in a Flat World, and is the CEO and a founder of Tenrox. In his writings and speeches, Melik explores the ways that companies can thrive in a world where rapid technological advances and globalization are changing how we get work done and manage the people who do it. Rudolf’s professional blog can be found at: http://www.talentontarget.com/talent_on_target.