• November 22, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Workforce Planning Is a Plus

CIOs are under increased pressure to improve IT organization effectiveness and contribute to enterprise growth and competitiveness. To do so, it's crucial that companies implement a workforce planning process to align IT resources to support the execution of business and IT strategies, according to Gartner Executive Programs (EXP) report, "Strategic IT Workforce Planning: From Process to Techniques." A strategic workforce planning process that aligns business and IT strategies ensures IT organizations will have the right number of people with the right skills in the right roles at the right time. "The workforce supply challenges coupled with the shift in demand of IT workforce capabilities present an ideal opportunity for CIOs and human resources to begin strategic workforce planning that focuses on the longer term," says Lily Mok, research director for Gartner EXP's human capital management content development group. "One essential differentiator of an effective IT organization is its ability to place the right people in the right place at the right time to meet business goals," Mok says. "Workforce planning is therefore increasingly indistinguishable from organizational strategic planning in those organizations where human capital is considered the critical factor in their success." Besides streamlining IT implementation projects, Mok says a workforce planning process will translate business and IT objectives into current and future IT workforce requirements and plans to fulfil them, and enables organizations to be proactive versus being reactive in addressing business needs. Mok says the process typically involves four key steps:
  • Align workforce strategy with IT strategy. The workforce plan's first focus should be on core competencies and making sure the workforce plan supports the strategic objective of the organization. Its second focus is on setting realistic goals or the ability to allocate the right resource in the right place at the right time to support the IT strategy. The third focus is on planning for the future by taking into consideration how company growth will influence future IT projects.
  • Conduct workforce analysis to determine the gap. Workforce analysis is the process of analyzing the supply and demand of the workforce and identifying the gap between the two. It's important companies understand the pros and cons of each before investing time and effort. Multiple layers of managers and key stakeholders from IT, HR, and finance should be involved throughout this process to ensure senior level commitment and resources.
  • Implement a workforce plan to close the gap. Using the results from the workforce analysis, companies should next create plans for recruitment, retention, outsourcing, development and organization change to locate talent inside and outside the organization, balance supply and demand, and develop and maximize the value of each employee.
  • Improve the effectiveness of workforce planning. Being effective at workforce planning is not just about having a good plan; it's also about being able to regularly monitor and assess progress made and effectively change workforce plans when needed. IT and HR leaders can improve their workforce planning skills and effectiveness by ensuring that they get leadership commitment from the start, define shared responsibilities, and continually assess, validate, report, and implement ongoing improvements. "Workforce planning should not just be an annual, one time event. It must be an ongoing process," Mok says "This will be a competitive advantage that IT organizations need to build in order to compete and succeed in an increasing competitive global market." Related articles: Timing Is Everything Utility Reliability for Effective CRM
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