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Workforce Planning: Visualizing Organizational Success
By Lois Melbourne, CEO, Aquire, Inc.
The prospect of successfully grooming, developing and aligning a workforce to support business goals and to develop or enhance a competitive advantage may seem nothing short of a ‘Herculean task.’ Fortunately, the answer can be found when companies elevate their thinking about how to approach and handle workforce planning.
Currently, most companies’ workforce strategy planning solutions come with limits, and those limits place governors on organizational growth. Although planning at the macro, strategic level is a good start, it must be followed with the ability to proceed on to a more granular, tactical approach: A systematic and simple way to implement a strategy. In addition, most workforce strategy solutions fail because they rely on time-consuming and error-prone methods like email, spreadsheets and PowerPoint, which hinder rather than enhance collaboration. Imperative in any successful implementation policy is ability to quickly and easily collaborate.
Overcoming these challenges starts with structuring a workforce and the organization for success. Without such a structure, processes are bound to be haphazard, unorganized and inefficient.
Cultivating Talent and Refining Positions
Now more than ever, the key elements of workforce planning – talent management and position management – are critical to organizational success. The options are simple: At a time when good employees will be harder to find, do you want your people looking for advancement in your organization, or do you want them continually scanning other companies? Clearly, it’s less expensive to cultivate and keep talent than to recruit and train it.
Talent management is the key to keeping good people. To move in that direction, companies must first do a better job of evaluating and utilizing their workforces. High-performing employees demand visibility and career path options, and their companies need them to stay on and succeed. When the goals of employees and companies are aligned, it’s a true win-win. Finding, grooming, training and encouraging ‘A’ players – and getting them into the right positions at the right time – is where talent management comes in. It’s about finding the best people to match your needs.
When approached correctly, talent management is holistic and integrated. It includes attracting and selecting candidates wisely, retaining and developing leaders, and it even means helping the employees’ transition out of the company. It’s a strategic approach to managing human capital throughout the career cycle.
If talent management is about the people, position management is about the jobs they will hold. Determining the need, the kind and the number of positions – the crux of position management – provides a basis for the orderly, efficient and economical accomplishment of the work of the organization. It also encompasses measuring the performance of employees; defining roles and responsibilities for positions enables a framework from which to measure the results of the employees in those positions. Clearly, position management is vital for initiatives such as succession planning and instituting, a robust 360-degree feedback program where managers clearly understand who reports to whom.
Overcoming the Barriers
In a survey of 578 organizations of varying industries in the United States, only 33 percent said they had analyzed workplace demographics and made projections about the retirement rates of their workers, according to the Boston College Center on Aging and Work. Only 37 percent of employers said they have adopted strategies to encourage older workers to stay past the traditional retirement age.
Additionally, finding, developing and keeping talent were among the top concerns of HR executives for 2007, according to a survey released by ORC Worldwide, a New York-based provider of human resource management consulting and data services. Nearly 62 percent said the most pressing strategic issues they expected to face that year included talent management.
Organizations can save money and effort by leveraging their present HR systems for talent/position management. How? By better-utilizing using what they already have. Many companies already have HR systems more than five years old that are fine for basic, transactional work. The question is: How do they leverage this investment to make the business run better? After all, the Promised Land of HR and ERP isn’t transactional – it’s being able to better manage and utilize your workforce.
The next step, then, is for companies to do more with what they already have by integrating talent/position management best practices and systems/software into the present HR system. The path to proper workforce planning is paved, first, by solid data. HR data must be accurate, easily obtained and unencumbered by silos, and it must be able to flow through and across organizations on a real-time basis.
Implementing a Workforce Planning Tool
One of the keys to enabling access and visibility of accurate workforce information is Visual Workforce Modeling and Management – a vital application that provides the tools so that the managers can very easily manage the positions they run. Visual Workforce Management is the link – the missing link, for many organizations – between ‘plain old’ HR systems and those that support talent and position management systems, and best practices. After all, workforce-planning decisions based on inaccurate or old data are bound to fail or under-perform.
Visual Workforce Modeling and Management is a simple, web-based solution that enables organizations to visually analyze, model and manage reporting relationships across the enterprise. This relatively new category of software will help integrate and expose relevant information to everybody with an interest in the success of the talent, which is the entire organization. Thus, the software needs to expose crucial HR and performance information to employees, managers and executives. It also needs to integrate across applications that handle learning plans, performance reviews, career development and succession planning.
By doing these things, the software becomes especially beneficial to employees who want to know, “What opportunities can I expect to pursue in the next five years?” and to managers who want to know, “What exactly is my organization likely to look like in five years?” This is why crucial information needs to be integrated well beyond HR itself. When this is accomplished, management objectives are clearly spelled out, and how employees fit into those objectives is also more clearly spelled out. For example, learning plans can be clearly and efficiently tied to performance reviews.
Visual Workforce Modeling and Management solutions enable organizations to standardize on a single visualization and modeling platform, set clear transformation goals and track progress toward those goals, and view accurate up-to-date organizational structures to model realignments.
By extending human capital management functions, talent and position management systems – augmented by Visual Workforce Modeling and Management – are a valuable asset for human resource organizations. Companies can expect increase in both morale and productivity since employees have better visibility into their future and the corporate expectations. Talent will stay around longer, too. Some additional benefits may also include:
- Improved operational efficiencies
- Improved information visibility and access for improved decision-making
- Reduced IT requests for ad-hoc reporting
- Improved data accuracy and regulatory compliance
- Reduced risk, with improved organization audit information
- Ability to act on performance reviews in proactive and positive ways
- Improved organizational planning and modeling
Lois Melbourne is CEO of Aquire, Inc., the leader in workforce planning and management solutions. She oversees daily operations and provides strategic direction for Aquire. Prior to launching Aquire, Lois worked as Director of Operations at a national systems integration company, provided technology training to corporations and has also worked as a Media Buyer, Sales and Marketing Executive and Film Production Specialist. She has also worked with Dallas-area film crews as Production Manager for commercials, corporate training videos and other media projects. Lois is a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization and the International Association of Human Resource Information Management. She frequently speaks at industry events and has authored articles related to trends in corporate governance, strategic organizational management and many other issues concerning human resource data integrity and management. For article feedback, contact Lois at