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What is Workforce Planning and Forecasting?

September 7, 2023 | By Samantha Varner

In the modern business world’s ever-evolving landscape, understanding where your talent lies and how it matches up to your strategic business initiatives is more important than ever. But how do you know if you have the resources necessary to complete the projects in the current pipeline? What about next year’s pipeline, or the year after that? This is where workforce planning and forecasting come into play.

What is Workforce Planning?

Workforce planning, at its core, is about ensuring you have the resources to achieve your strategic business initiatives. In other words, do you have the people you need to execute the work you have planned? But workforce planning goes beyond basic job titles. We need to dive deep into understanding the skills, proficiencies, and capabilities of your employees to discern whether or not they can accomplish your company’s long-term goals.

This process is not unlike solving a puzzle. On one side, you have the supply: the unique mix of skills, experience, and talent your resources bring to the table. On the other, you have demand: the strategic goals of your business. The mission? Identify the gaps between the two and determine whether your existing team needs to upskill or if it’s time to hire new talent.

In this sense, workforce planning is where HR and talent acquisition, resource management, and project management all converge. Resource managers have their fingers on the pulse of the organization’s needs. Therefore, they’re usually the ones to realize the need for increased headcount and put together the case for hiring. Strategic workforce planning helps ensure the business’s projects and initiatives don’t suffer from a talent gap.

Who Benefits from Workforce Planning?

While some might assume only large corporations or specific industries require workforce planning, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Every team, regardless of its size or industry, stands to gain from efficient workforce planning and forecasting. 

Whether it’s a tech startup looking to break new ground, a non-profit aiming to make a bigger impact, or a well-established firm venturing into a new market, understanding the strengths and potential gaps in your workforce will help you pave the way to success. After all, you won’t be able to accomplish any of your business goals unless you have the right people with the right skills.

Starting with Workforce Planning

Achieving a clear understanding of your workforce goes beyond knowing their names or titles. It means building a database of their skills, capabilities, and potential for growth. On top of that, you have to keep an eye on what the business is prioritizing today as well as emerging priorities for the future. How will the company’s needs one or three or five years from now impact workforce demand down the road?

So how do you get started implementing workforce planning? Manually collecting the skills and proficiencies of your employees is a tedious task for even a small company, and it certainly isn’t scalable. That’s why we recommend investing in tools designed to make the process easier and more efficient. Platforms like Tempus Resource allow businesses to keep track of roles, skills, and the supply of their workforce. With this data at your fingertips, you can compare it against the demands of both specific projects and the overarching business objectives. By maintaining visibility into both your workforce and your business objectives, identifying and bridging the gaps becomes a streamlined process.

Workforce planning and forecasting aren’t just HR buzzwords — they’re strategic necessities. By fostering a deeper understanding of the organization’s talent in relation to its goals, businesses can not only identify and address potential gaps but also harness the full potential of their teams. Whether it’s upskilling existing talent or scouting for new additions to the team, the road to success becomes clearer with effective workforce planning. Remember, it’s not just about having people – it’s about having the right people, at the right time, for the right job.

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