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Strategic Workforce Planning, the tool to serve your business objectives

Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) is a tool that enables companies to plan for the resources they are likely to need in order to achieve their goals. Implementing such a plan brings valuable strategic, financial, and operational benefits. What are the challenges of this tool? How can you deploy it in your company? Let's take a closer look.

Strategic Workforce Planning: What exactly is it?


Strategic Workforce Planning, often referred to as SWP, is a method that aims to align the human resources available to the company with its strategic objectives. In concrete terms, it consists of precisely identifying the skills present within the organization in order to anticipate the recruitment, training or reassignment needs necessary to implement the global strategy. This definition may remind you of the GPEC definition. Indeed, both methods focus on the notion of competencies, and both serve a similar purpose: ensuring that human resources are in line with the company's aspirations.

What are the differences with GPEC?

The Gestion Prévisionnelle des Emplois et des Compétences (GPEC) and Strategic Workforce Planning are not opposed to each other, on the contrary. They are complementary approaches whose difference lies in the type of information used.

While GPEC aims to map the jobs and skills present within the organization, Strategic Workforce Planning offers a more analytical vision thanks to numerical data.

How does the SWP work?

The implementation of a Strategic Workforce Planning methodology involves three main steps:

  • Make an inventory of existing skills: the company should be able to map the skills it has for each business and for each employee.
  • Make a forecast to identify future needs. These may be technical, strategic or structural changes. The objective is to define the impact of these changes on human resources needs.
  • Adjust resources to meet the previously defined objectives.

Why implement Strategic Workforce Planning?

The digital transformation is accelerating, and with it comes its share of changes in the world of work. While 85% of the jobs of 2030 do not yet exist, the companies that best anticipate technological change will be the ones to come out on top. But that's not all: used correctly, the SWP is a powerful tool at the service of several issues:

Anticipating the jobs of tomorrow

In order to prepare for the future of your company, you need to start by being fully aware of today's resources. Indeed, having a map of the professions and the associated skills allows you to make the right decisions in terms of training, recruitment or reassignment. Let's take the example of the automotive industry, which is particularly sensitive to legal constraints. There is a lot of talk about the end of combustion engine vehicles by 2035. What would happen to the people who have been working in this field for years?

Strategic Workforce Planning allows the company's strategic vision (going electric) to be linked to the skills it already has. Instead of laying off operators and recruiting new people, the company can set up training plans to support the workforce in this transition.

Giving power back to managers

When HR and field information are in silos, it is more difficult for managers to effectively manage their teams. On the other hand, HR struggles to anticipate recruitment and training needs. With SWP, this data is centralized so that each stakeholder can use it to better organize themselves.

For managers, the benefit is not negligible since it becomes much simpler to carry out assignment schedules and to request adequate training for their teams. They spend less time and energy on these low value-added tasks.

Controlling staffing costs

The centralization of HR data is a valuable aid to budget management. It allows you to see where you can invest in operationalizing strategic objectives. Let's take the example of the automotive industry. Strategic Workforce Planning not only lists the steps required to switch from fossil fuels to electric vehicles, but also puts a figure on them. Thus, the company can evaluate how many people will have to be trained, how many new positions will have to be filled, etc. It is the same when a company wants to conquer a new market: it must start by checking that it has the appropriate human capital to do so.

Of course, this requires close collaboration with the IT and Finance functions to identify and exploit the important metrics.

Gaining agility

Finally, the SWP can be a valuable aid for companies that aspire to greater agility. The competitive environment in which we evolve requires the ability to respond quickly to various external changes.

With Strategic Workforce Planning, human resources can be approached in an agile manner, allowing organizations to minimize risks such as talent shortages.

How to implement a Strategic Workforce Planning plan?

The three main steps of a SWP plan

After the theory, it's time for the practice. You may be wondering how to implement SWP in your company. The implementation of such a methodology varies from one company to another depending on its size, its sector and its objectives. However, it is important to consider the following steps

1) (Re)define the company's mission and vision. This first step lays the foundation for strategic thinking.

2. Get to know the current workforce. Although tedious, this point is essential! The objective is to detail all the jobs that make up the company, and to associate information on the associated skills, but also the types of contracts, authorizations, etc.

3. Establish a roadmap that includes key success indicators. This includes figures for recruitment, training and skill requirements by business line.

Depending on the state of the data you already have, making this plan can be more or less complex. It may be useful to use a tool to assist you in this task.

Mercateam's Strategic Workforce Planning module

As you can see, the SWP cannot work effectively without centralizing HR and field data. But without the right tool, this can be complex. For companies, it is common to use dozens of Excel files, rarely updated, which completely distorts their analysis.

Mercateam provides a concrete solution to this problem by circulating information from the field to the decision-making levels. The data aggregated in the tool is therefore real and updated daily thanks to the information transmitted by the team leaders.

This data not only allows you to gain agility, but also to control costs and anticipate critical events, such as a retirement. The tool helps you establish an action plan that is consistent with your business objectives.

In summary

Strategic Workforce Planning helps you align your human resources with your strategic objectives. The implementation of such a tool requires a global vision of the competencies your company has at any given time. This data must be centralized and updated. It is also necessary to establish a roadmap that will help you bring the current situation closer to the one you aspire to in the future. Tools like Mercateam can help you implement a SWP plan in your organization.

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