Continuous workforce planning: Uniting finance, HR, and business


Kouros Behzad

Director of Product Marketing, Anaplan solutions for HR and workforce planning

Learn how your HR, finance, and business leadership can all work better together to drive greater workforce planning agility.

In an era marked by swift technological advances and rapidly shifting market demands, the traditional workforce planning approach — primarily driven by finance-led budgeting and forecasting — is no longer sufficient. Leading organizations understand, to stay competitive, their workforce planning must evolve beyond isolated and departmental efforts into a cohesive working model that involves finance, human resources (HR), and business leadership. 

This approach is thoroughly explored in the Josh Bersin Company’s report on integrated workforce planning, which provides crucial insights into transforming organizational practices to foster resilience and adaptability. This blog delves further into the changing landscape of continuous workforce planning:

  • Discover how integrating data and insights from various business functions can prepare your organization for future challenges and drive success. 
  • Gain a clear understanding of the practical strides your business can take to transform your workforce planning, learning directly from the latest industry research and expert analyses featured in the Josh Bersin report. 
  • Learn why investing time in rethinking your workforce strategy is not just necessary, but indispensable.

Integrating finance, HR, and business 

Traditionally, finance and business units have closely collaborated, effectively aligning financial strategies with operational objectives to drive organizational growth. HR has focused on recruitment and retention, often operating independently with limited integration into the broader business and financial planning processes. It's crucial to recognize the substantial value HR brings to an organization, from enhancing employee engagement to driving culture and supporting organizational change. Similarly, finance’s influence extends beyond budget management, impacting long-term planning and operational efficiency. 

The successful deployment of a continuous workforce planning process is contingent upon the systemic integration of HR with finance and business units. By doing this, organizations can leverage the unique strengths of each to enhance overall effectiveness and coherence. Finance is not limited to merely setting budgets; it deeply analyzes economic conditions and market trends to forecast both financial and workforce needs, providing a quantitative foundation for planning. HR complements this by delving into qualitative aspects, leveraging detailed insights into employee performance, skill sets, hiring and retention trends from across the organization. This allows HR to align workforce capabilities with long-term organizational goals and to develop targeted development programs that foster talent retention and growth.

Operational leaders from the business units, meanwhile, bring a tactical perspective by identifying the specific skills and roles needed to achieve current and future business objectives. This real-time insight ensures workforce strategies are not only aligned with overarching business goals but are also responsive to immediate market conditions and operational requirements.

Together, this trifecta drives a comprehensive workforce dynamic that combines financial foresight, human capital development, and operational needs. 

What does this look like in practice?

We have worked with a range of companies across multiple sectors to implement workforce planning. Here is a small sampling, by sector:

Technology: One of our clients, a major technology company, faced significant challenges in aligning their rapidly growing global workforce with strategic business initiatives. They utilized the Anaplan platform to overhaul their outdated workforce planning methods, which were not keeping pace with market changes and internal growth demands. This engagement enabled the company to implement a dynamic planning system that could adapt to global talent needs and business cycles effectively, promoting sustained growth and competitive edge in the tech industry.

Healthcare: A leading health sector organization struggled with maintaining adequate staffing levels due to fluctuating demands and a rigid traditional planning system. By adopting the Anaplan platform, they could forecast and adjust their workforce needs in real time, ensuring they met both patient care standards and regulatory requirements. This proactive workforce planning approach allowed them to optimize resource allocation across multiple facilities and significantly improve operational efficiency and patient outcomes.

Retail: A national retail chain utilized Anaplan to tackle the complexities of seasonal workforce fluctuations and the integration of new acquisitions into its corporate structure. The platform facilitated a cohesive strategy that spanned HR, finance, and operations, enabling the company to forecast and meet staffing needs accurately throughout the year. This strategic alignment helped them manage peak shopping periods and integration challenges smoothly, enhancing overall business resilience and market responsiveness.

The benefits of an integrated approach

This integrated approach not only streamlines decision-making and reduces complexity but also builds a robust foundation for scaling the organization effectively and harmoniously. In our work enabling companies across size, sector, and geography to implement continuous workforce planning, we have seen multiple benefits, with these four dominating: 


1. Organizational agility 

Integrated workforce planning enables organizations to swiftly navigate market changes and internal adjustments. By fostering a tight alignment among finance, HR, and business operations, this approach allows companies to rapidly pivot in response to external pressures or opportunities. The systemic communication and data sharing among these departments ensure quick decision-making, preventing delays and maintaining competitive agility.


2. Reduced complexity

A unified approach to workforce planning significantly improves the decision-making process across an organization. When finance, HR, and business units collaborate and connect their planning processes from the onset, it eliminates the confusion and inefficiencies that arise from separate and disconnected planning efforts. This holistic approach ensures that all parties are aligned and operating with the same information and goals.


3. Business harmony 

Integrated workforce planning cultivates a culture of transparency, collaboration, and shared objectives across critical organizational functions. This unity is fostered by aligning the visions of finance, HR, and business leaders, leading to improved morale, engagement and productivity, and retention. When these groups understand and support each other's roles and contributions, it enhances the organization's overall effectiveness and fosters a more supportive workplace environment.


4. Scalability 

Effective integrated workforce planning facilitates scalable growth, empowering organizations to expand seamlessly and proficiently. This cohesive approach establishes a durable framework that adjusts to evolving operational demands without compromising performance or focus. As companies grow, this flexibility becomes essential, enabling them to enhance resources and operations to meet escalating needs while preserving operational coherence and aligning with overarching business goals.

Embrace the new paradigm

The shift toward integrated workforce planning is not merely a trend but a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to thrive in a volatile world. By fostering a collaborative and transparent relationship between finance, HR, and business leaders, organizations can achieve a level of dynamism and resilience that traditional planning methods cannot match.

For a deeper understanding of how integrated workforce planning can transform your business practices, check out our on-demand webinar developed in collaboration with the Josh Bersin Company. 

Discover first-hand from industry leaders how to achieve organizational readiness and resilience through continuous workforce planning.