Workforce Planning – Move to Modernize

September 23, 2015

Workforce planning has become an increasingly hot topic among many organizations that we talk to – both in the commercial and the government markets. The history around workforce planning has focused typically at the level of what functional capabilities the organization needs to provide in order to deliver their product or service. The thinking oftentimes was based on stovepiped and highly defined capabilities and the roles that serve those capabilities, such as finance, operations, manufacturing, marketing…“We have an operations organization that must provide X, Y, and Z functions. The headcount needed to fulfill those functions needs to grow by 6 FTEs.” This grew from the 1800s movement towards specialization of roles and organizational design --- putting cogs into a system. By delivering their functional capability into the system, all of the parts come together to create an operating organization.

Today, workforce planning requires a more dynamic approach that focuses on strategic imperatives and the skillsets needed to support those rather than roles dedicated to a functional capability. Organizations are highly fluid now, with communication flows and networks of working teams from multiple disciplines (and skillsets) that interact together in a rapidly changing environment. The new leaders in workforce planning focus on organizational strategic imperatives and they employ technology to drive the difficult prioritization of strategic activities, the strategic programs needed to support those activities, and the skillsets and competencies that are needed to deliver the strategic programs themselves. They use prioritization and analytics to strategically evaluate the imperatives that the organization has and walk through a thoughtfully crafted, multi-tiered and strategic workforce planning process. We have developed a framework that can be customized, depending on the needs of the organization:

Key questions:

  • If I have to reduce headcount resources (FTEs), what areas or programs should they come from?
  • If I can add headcount resources, where should they be applied?
  • If I need to re-assign headcount or re-structure, what is the most effective way to do this?
  • If I look 5 years into the future, what kind of knowledge/skills/abilities (KSAs) should I be targeting now and perhaps where can I find them?

Framework for prioritization, evaluation, and resource deployment:

  1. Model 1: Analysis is used to determine which strategic initiatives or programs need to be protected from resource reductions and which can take more risk. Complexity of the programs should be the key focus.
  2. Model 2: Task prioritization tells you within a program which activities should be deferred or eliminated in programs where the organization decides to take risk/headcount reductions.
  3. Model 3: Role prioritization shows us which skillsets are most important to maintain (training and retention) as we take risk or headcount reductions within/across programs.
  4. Model 4: Program Efficiency Options involves a tradeoff analysis to merge, reorganize programs where we will take risk under a headcount reduction scenario.