EdgeNetworksExpert Speak Optimize workforce planning, allocation and cost with Technology

Optimize workforce planning, allocation and cost with Technology

Mature organizations have a clear vision, definition and roadmap of ‘Organization Effectiveness’. They have a targeted and well-communicated talent strategy to best align their workforce with forthcoming organizational plans. Hence, HR operating model for these companies is designed to reinforce that strategy. However, what differentiates an agile organization design with that of a reactive one is in their intent and ability to adopt technology to enable this.

I have often seen clients grappling with the challenge of understanding tactical and strategic workforce framework definitions. It is extremely critical to understand workforce planning entails before embracing technology.

Here’s a simple explanation. Workforce planning, at tactical level, is about rostering, daily task scheduling and monitoring, shift planning based on forecasted volumes or client billing, and utilization. A significant portion of this rests with command center and delivery functions within an organization with off-the-shelf systems providing best-in-class monitoring technology.

Workforce planning has evolved to include budgeting and forecasting where again project management offices in most companies play a critical role defining resource requirements and ensuring increased utilization and billing.  While organizations with sustained business lines need minor changes to workforce plans due to well-established operating models, new growth businesses seek the ability to scale up and down on workforce requirements based on market conditions. Realizing the potential of data integration, many companies have designed a technology backbone that enables resource requisitions based on CRM data. However, owing to lack of accurate, robust data this model fails to generate the seamlessness that is required. Approval workflows and real time data are critical in achieving the desired transactional success metrics. This would certainly result in the desired business outcome – a robust plan on headcount, revenue per FTE, talent cost as percentage of overall project / organization costs and profitability.

While the above plan is perfect, often times, organizations fail at executing it right as execution is a cascading phenomenon across organization hierarchy. The span of control and layers of company design plays critical role in determining success or failure of a well-defined charter. And that brings us to the next level of talent supply chain that adds a strategic spin to design consideration.

RM’s and effectiveness COE within HR are often challenged by business to build a design and operating model that befits the budget. Understanding business requirements and linking talent management (skills, attrition forecasting, critical resources & roles, underdogs vs. underperformers) becomes the defining factor in this marriage. Historically, HR resorted to excel sheets to map resource skills and criticality, which was based on inputs from Project managers. They would then aggregate and normalize these. This analysis helped them make a strategic contribution to the most important asset of the business – workforce. What could really enhance their contribution is Technology. Tools that enable HR to view current vs. budget headcount, integrated sales pipeline views and integrated talent supply chain scorecards presenting a skills layer, performance layer and role fitment recommendation, will largely be essential to allow RM’s to play a truly strategic role in Workforce Management.

Global economy is no more at the cusp of change but it’s safe to say that change is constant. Forces of startups and new age technology drive changes faster than anticipated. Companies are moving away from yearly to six monthly and quarterly guidance clearly showing impact of macro factors on business stability. The critical role of analytics and predictive insights to chart strategies and execute them flawlessly is undoubted.  Analytics is no more a separate function but an integral element to a unified workforce planning charter.

To cope with this fast paced business environment, workforce planning and talent management need to work hand-in-hand. Companies that ‘smart engage and fast engage’ their workforce based on skills and competency will enjoy significant bottom-line advantage as against companies that are reactive in their approach to workforce planning. This also necessitates a change in discipline of sales managers to comply with pipeline updates. And therefore further presses the need to redesign sales incentive plans: moving from revenue coverage and buffered margin to incorporating actual achieved profitability over contract values as part of the compensation structure. Bringing about this change in the workforce planning approach will equip companies to meet and exceed guidance values. While automation is one lever, the second important lever is people allocation effectiveness.

To conclude: A powerful technology platform that enables delivery of an integrated workforce and talent roadmap is imperative to business success.


1Author – Dilshad Kothawala

Dilshad is the head of Product Strategy at EdGE Networks, an HR Tech startup, which aims to solve workforce related challenges in organizations using Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. Dilshad comes with extensive experience in Organization Effectiveness, HR Solution Consulting and Business Process Management. She has led initiatives on presales, employee engagement, workforce management and organization design during her earlier stints at Standard Chartered, Infosys and TCS. Technology powering domain is her passion.

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