Workforce Planning: Avoid a Cameo Role in “Office Space 2”

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Blog post by Meredith Hobik – Anaplan Solutions Consultant

Why do so many professionals in FP&A roles find themselves inundated by the looming and time-consuming task of headcount forecasting?  It is simple. Current technology offerings do not meet companies’ workforce planning needs and therefore, many of us have become masters of Excel spreadsheets to “connect the dots”. This is neither an effective nor an efficient way to get the job done, but until now, it has largely been the status quo solution.

Companies want to plan headcount by department, by location, by title, by role, and by full-time employees, versus by contractors and consultants. They are constantly trying to answer the underlying question of, “do we have the right people in the right roles in the right locations?” To ensure we do, tools used by FP&A, operations, real estate, and human resource teams need to talk to one another. The reality, however, is that this rarely happens. Oftentimes, human resources use one solution with headcount by title and role, while FP&A employs another solution with headcount by function and business unit.  Location data may vary across the solutions, especially if a company lacks a master data management solution.  Finally, real estate decisions are left in limbo, waiting to know if additional lease space is needed and if so, where and when. How can a company do “real time” workforce planning if headcount forecasting is across different tools and at different levels of detail?

Add disparate Excel spreadsheets to this comedy of errors.  This is the go-to response of most companies today.  The more complex that headcount forecasting becomes, the more Excel spreadsheets companies generate and the more analysts will be hired to support workforce planning.  Sound familiar?

While in my previous role at a rapidly growing company, I discovered myself searching for a way to improve the dreaded headcount process. Our group eventually found a solution that solved these problems. It provided an open platform for business planning in the cloud that allowed us to be strategic in how to manage workforce planning.

We found Anaplan.

Anaplan allows businesses to plan how they want, without being limited by current systems.  Anaplan allows planners to forecast headcount across as many dimensions as the business requires (department, location, title, role, type of employee) and multiple versions (budget, plan, actual, scenarios).  Anaplan allows the finance, human resources, operations, and real estates teams to collaborate in one solution without producing a ton of independently developed and siloed Excel spreadsheets that require a lot of manual effort to “connect the dots”.  Anaplan improves productivity, while also allowing ‘real time’ responses to executives’ questions.  Anaplan enhances, rather than diminishes, FP&A teams and allows people to be strategic thinkers rather than Excel processors.   And, dare I say it – Anaplan makes headcount forecasting and workforce planning fun!

Tuesdays with our Solutions Consultants is updated the last Tuesday of every month on the Anaplan Blog. Interested in connecting with Meredith to discuss workforce planning or just want to connect with her? Get in touch with her: @Anaplan_MH or us: @anaplan and let’s talk!

About the Author: Meredith Hobik is a Solutions Consultant at Anaplan on the Pre-Sales team.  Prior to Anaplan, Meredith was Director of Strategic Planning at salesforce.com focused on long range planning activities for finance and operations.  Meredith also was Senior Manager of FP&A at Extend Health, a Medicare insurance exchange acquired by Towers Watson.  Meredith began her career at Deloitte in the Financial Advisory Services and Strategy & Operations management consulting practices. Meredith holds a BSFS in International Economics from Georgetown University, as well as joint degree MBA and MA in East Asian Studies from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.

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