Hackernoon logoGet Your Workforce Planning Right - Should You Buy More Tools Or Chase More Experts? by@mahendra-gupta

Get Your Workforce Planning Right - Should You Buy More Tools Or Chase More Experts?

Mahendra Gupta Hacker Noon profile picture

@mahendra-guptaMahendra Gupta

Mahendra Gupta is PMP certified with 20+ years of expertise in resource management & Planning.

With a valuable skillset, hard work, and dedication, employees execute all your projects and drive growth and success with all their might. The workforce, therefore,  is the most important asset of an organization.

Thus, planning and optimizing the resource pool is pivotal for the effective execution of business strategy. Now that we are in the golden age of data, leaders are striving to bring a fundamental shift in ways they perceive the valuable data and uncover the game-changing insights to efficiently plan and manage their workforce. 

Workforce planning is a critical piece that completes the overall business plan. It is the process of planning, forecasting, allocating, and utilizing the workforce effectively and efficiently across the enterprise. Nowadays, leading firms are resorting to digitized tools to scale up their planning. However, this tool inventory is of no use in the absence of experienced personnel and their years of knowledge. 

Thus, getting workforce planning right requires a smart balance of advanced tools, planning, analytics and most importantly, strategic insights. After all, when knowledge meets innovation, the results are promising and can give you the competitive edge you have longed for. 

Let’s see how striking this ultimate balance will help you enhance your capacity planning

Know your firm’s internal structure to align with current trends

In the dynamic business landscape, trends are evolving everyday. Businesses find it imperative to follow and adapt to these emerging dynamics to stay relevant down the line. However, not every trend can align with your firm’s internal structure.

Thus, the first and foremost step to strategize workforce planning is to evaluate how  your company’s internal structure aligns with the broader demographics. 

A learned and experienced person who has seen the firm evolve is best fitted to analyze this. Their profound knowledge about the firm’s policies, their work structure, culture, values, core strengths, client base, and economic ups and downs when integrated will help in finding the missing piece of the puzzle and will help the firm to easily adopt the novelties.

Learn from project history and make better decisions 

A workforce planning tool generates data-driven insights to facilitate you to take strategic decisions. For instance, when you are planning for a pipelined project, the tool will provide forecasted data reports which will give you project estimates in terms of resources required, costs, estimated hours, and skills demand. Even though this data is accurate and precise, there can be times when it may fail to give promising results. 

What do you do to eliminate such potential bottlenecks?

One efficient way is to compare the history of similar projects that were taken up by your firm. Once you have the data, you can see what tasks and timelines worked in favor and what didn’t. Leveraging this inventory will help you make an informed decision and drive you closer towards the project's success. 

Adapt new methods to transform your planning process 

Planning processes have seen tremendous transformations lately. Moving from waterfall to agile, and from bottoms-up to task-level planning, managers have experimented with different methods to eliminate project roadblocks and meet the client’s demands. Even though people are adopting new methods, it doesn't imply the old ones are obsolete. 

The experienced group of leaders know the hows and whys of these planning processes. They know the benefits of each and how to deploy them in each project. Thus, leveraging the learning's of the senior members of the firm, managers are adopting a hybrid approach to make the best of both worlds. 

For example, in some cases a task-level or top-down approach works best when you know each task detail, whereas when the specifics are vague but you know the end-product, you can use the bottom-up process and create tasks and book resources accordingly. When you are assigned a project that is clear on what skills you require and has tasks but no timeline, you can use the hybrid approach to at least chalk out the initial plan. 

Combine your knowledge with the latest trends

Technology is an enabler. It does not make the decisions for you, but the actionable insights generated using Business Intelligence and predictive analytics help you do so. When you have an advanced, refined and sophisticated enterprise level software at your advantage, you can predict future capacity and demands. This data will help you analyze the demand and skill  gaps.  

Leaders resort to a proactive approach and make decisions ahead of the curve. So, when you know you will face a potential demand or skill gap in future, you can seek help from your higher-ups and implement the right resourcing treatments using their expert advice. A right blend of knowledge and software is just what you need to get your planning right.

Embrace latest technology to maintain the competitive edge 

Some conventional practices that were followed previously do not hold considerable value anymore. For instance, several firms still rely on home-grown, half-baked legacy tools to manage their projects and workforce. However, they do not fit the new, dynamic market trends anymore. The silos of spreadsheets, lack of configurability, ‘one size fits all’ features led several businesses to switch to advanced management software. These tools help them manage resources and projects efficiently by providing a myriad of solutions.

Thus, to leverage the advantages of these trends, one has to look beyond their traditional practices. Moreover, rigidity and legacy traditions do not always work best for you. A strategist knows when to upgrade the organization’s tool inventory and adopt better, refined tools. In addition to this, they also practice agility and drive innovation, and adapt modern business practices to maintain the competitive edge. 

The round-up

Capacity planning is one of the most strategic people management activities that takes place in an organization. To perfect this process and ensure optimal utilization of your resource pool, combining the right knowledge and right software is imperative. Because, if you don’t know how to make the most of your tool, the intelligent insights, intuitive reports, and dashboards are of no use. 

So scale up your capacity planning by using your experience and technology quotient to make data-driven strategic decisions. After all, experience is the best teacher. What is your take on this?


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