Why is it that businesses have focussed so much effort in optimising their product supply chain, but don’t think of their resources in the same way? If you were to ask your product manager to explain how they ensure that the right product is being produced in the most efficient manner, with most streamlined supply chain, with all non-essential costs removed, they would likely have a very sophisticated story to tell – after all for a manufacturing company the delivery of the right product, right place, right time, right cost is very important to the success of the company, right?

Ok, so what sort of answer would you get from your HR and business managers about managing the supply of your people, who are an even more important resource for your company?

I think it is fair to say that managers would not have such an extensive story to tell, as they are not used to managing the process of ‘people production’ in a similar vein.

Businesses often recruit, promote and release staff to meet short-term immediate needs, and don’t generally manage this process in terms of delivering supply of right resources at the right time over the longer term. Plus their plans rarely take account the constraints and delays that might occur. How many times do you find that managers rush to address shortfalls based on simple recruitment plans based on current gap, but by the time the new staff has arrived, the resourcing need has changed, resulting in a re-planning exercise instead? There is clearly a need for a more structured and fact-based approach to resource planning, and whilst we don’t want to think of people as simple products to acquire or develop, we can learn from supply chain principles to improve the process.

How to go about putting this more rigorous approach to work on your people resource? Well just as there are tools and techniques to help in supply chain management, we can apply our expertise and toolset in workforce analytics to workforce planning and make people resource management every bit as rigorous as other types of resource management.

Capgemini’s workforce analytics approach applies a proven approach supported by analytical techniques to quantify the process of resource planning. It breaks down into a small number of steps:

  • Clear view of the demand for workforce driven by business need over time, covering sources of demand including known demand driven by short-term plans, expected ‘pipeline’ of work from strategic plans, and anticipated work that isn’t yet visible, but is expected
  • Application of modelling techniques to forecast resource profiles at level of granularity needed, such as skill, experience, location etc
  • Testing of business strategies and evaluating effectiveness and cost to meet need, where you are able to compare recruitment, relocation, retraining, and promotion approaches
  • Produce optimal strategies that most closely meet needs of the business
  • Rerun analysis whenever new priorities or assumptions need to be evaluated

Clearly businesses need to understand more carefully what the current resource capacity is (can they take on more work?), and forecast of work needs which should be linked to business plans (‘I’m planning to grow my business by 10% in manufacturing, distribution and sales’). This needs to take account of the profile of current staff, consideration of promotion and attrition assumptions, and existing training programmes to develop staff. The same approach applies equally when the business plan requires head-count rationalisation as well.

Armed with plans at this level of rigour and detail, the HR managers would then be in a better position to support the business to plan around the supply of these resources, whether it is internal or external, permanent or temporary, or full-time or part-time, along with any skills gaps to address through L&D. By taking account of the lead times in the processes (e.g. approval, advertising, interviewing, on-boarding and training needed), this produces a plan that is detailed, realistic, costed and can be used to track progress to meeting business needs. With the emergence of HR Management applications to collect and analyse workforce data, as well as the improved access and scalability of data through Cloud-based platforms, the tools are in place to better plan workforce levels.

So planning your people needs can be done with rigour and discipline, resulting in the HR function being an enabler to the business to say with confidence how they are going to meet their future personnel needs. Workforce analytics is the approach that results in a more grounded, effective and efficient way to deal with your most valuable business resource of all – your people.

To find out more about Capgemini’s experience of workforce analytics in resource planning, and how we can help you better plan your workforce, please contact Barbara van der Heijden (barbara.vanderheijden@capgemini.com) or Neil Ferber (neil.ferber@capgemini.com)