Balancing act: Current versus future workforce strategies


Gaz Willott

Sr. Customer Success Business Partner

The gap between current and future states of your workforce plan can be wide and require effort to close, but simple awareness is a big part of the solution.

Throughout these posts, I’ve discussed the significance of developing a future-state workforce strategy based on your current situation, linking business objectives to employee output, and identifying key areas to focus on when forecasting the aspects of your plan that will have the most impact as business conditions evolve. The next step is to evaluate the current state and start to think about the future of your business — and it can be here where the gulf emerges. 

Using tried and tested evaluation frameworks is a sensible approach, and businesses tend to draw from SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and gap analysis techniques. These approaches have been around forever — or at least since the 1960s — and the concepts are simple to remember but can be challenging to execute.

SWOT is an excellent way to identify the activity or characteristic you want to focus on — in a way that means you can concentrate on taking advantage of your strengths while managing your weaknesses. The outcome of a SWOT analysis should be a vision for the future. Spend time reviewing all the elements of the SWOT of today and think about what you want this to look like tomorrow. 

Some common questions to get started with a workforce planning SWOT: 


  • What is your competitive advantage?
  • What resources do you have?
  • What are your workforce differentiators?
  • What products are performing well?


  • Where can you improve?
  • Where do you have the biggest skill gaps?
  • What products are underperforming?
  • Where are you lacking resources?


  • What new technology can you use?
  • Can you expand your business into new markets?
  • What new segments can you test?
  • How agile are your operations?


  • What are your competitors doing?
  • How are consumer trends changing?
  • Are you anticipating potential talent challenges?
  • What regulations are changing?

Your gap analysis should then help you understand the changes required to meet your goals.

Suppose your SWOT has identified an opportunity to approach a new market, develop a new product or drive a process improvement. You should then revisit your workforce strategy and see how well it aligns. Who do you need to bring this to life, what skills do they need to have, what will it cost you, and where are they located for maximum effectiveness? Do these resources already exist within your business, or will you need to go out and find them? These are some of the types of questions to start to explore next. Lining up your current and future states will help you visualize what to do next. How are you going to get from A to B?

Having a detailed, granular view of the skills of today will help you understand and model the impact of changing the skills profile of your business. If you have not yet begun capturing skills across your organization, this should not be a show-stopper. Start small with a focus on critical segments of your workforce. When trying to decide on a course of action, it's helpful to look for any way to test what could happen. For example, if you think you need more technical resources to drive innovation and to stay competitive, you must consider where could this resource come from, and what investment is required to capitalize on your future state view?

How can you bring people together across your organization to develop a strategy built on data and collaboration while ensuring everyone is aligned with where your business should go? It's important to stay open-minded and bring people in from across your organization to validate the strategy reflects a variety of views rather than just one or two individuals. It's easy to let organizational biases creep into this kind of thinking, so challenge yourself to check your assumptions. Be sure your hopes of digitizing your business align with how your customers want to interact with you. 

The gap between the current and future state may seem like a chasm, and it may grow and contract as time passes, but being more aware of it is a big part of the solution. Having fun, celebrating successes, and reflecting on your journey should be a big part of it, too.

Check out this short demo video to learn how you can benefit from Anaplan to balance your long-range goals with resource realities.