Planning Analytics

Strategic Workforce Planning

By NIGEL SUTTON posted Sat November 07, 2020 05:03 AM


IBM Planning Analytics has many applications across organisations and industries. In particular, the solution can support and integrate strategic and operational processes accommodating different user roles.

Based on experience with customers the top reasons why the solution is suited to strategic planning are;

  1. Rich role-based user experience  
  2. Versatility of use cases
  3. Ability to support comprehensive business logic, the translation of strategic goals into operational targets and guidelines require this.

More and more customers are expanding their use cases for IBM Planning Analytics due to the high performance and versatility. In a virtual event back in April GKN Aerospace talked about some of their use cases. In July a presentation from Gary (Informa) talked about their core modules for Planning Analytics, not only in the area of workforce planning but also Group consolidation, Demand Planning and Distributed Events Planning.

The full webinar is available for replay using this link.

Here are some of the highlights covered in the Strategic Workforce Planning demonstration that featured in the event;


The scalability and versatility of modelling enables you to support a desired methodology. This proven practice approach underpinned the demonstration model.

Strategic drivers and levers

A strategic driver could be target growth or an external market factor such as Brexit. These drivers need to be applied to scenarios with different sensitivities. The models can be used to analyse the impact from these major external factors, such as Covid-19, Brexit and so on.

A strategic lever could be introducing automation, reskilling, redeployment of resource and so on. These are key to closing any skill gaps and building capability across HR and the business to execute the plans.

Driver and Lever simulation dashboards

The demonstration focused on headcount population and cost, providing the impact of selected drivers and levers. Multiple scenarios are supported with visibility over your chosen time horizon.

For example, if a driver was related to average tenure by job role and it was essential to retain going forward then applicable costs would be applied from a point in time. This could include both recruitment costs and an uplift of the current payroll rate.

Business Rules

As well as IBM Planning Analytics being highly scalable and fast performing, business logic is easy to maintain and expressed in plain English. Rules can apply either broadly across the model and right down to the lowest level such as average tenure for a specific role or skillset for a specified time window.

Driver and Lever assumptions

Place holders are embedded into the model to support the varying requirements of different organisations. These are key to driving the impact calculations. For example, introducing automation may reduce workforce costs. By contrast, rebalancing the workforce mix could result in an uplift in costs.

Skills Matrix

This is another significant area that directly ties in to the second step of the methodology, i.e. internal scan and segmentation.

Data can be imported from another source and/or you could use the solution’s workflow assisted data collection.

This information is tracked at the employee and job role level over time to identify skill gaps and drive calculation impacts for the simulations.

Workforce Profile

Whilst the Skills Matrix section focused on capturing the skills at the individual employee level and consolidating to the business unit, this Workforce Profiling analysis enables us to look at this from both a population and cost perspective as well as understanding the “before” and “after” for each business lever that we have modelled. This insight is further broken down by job role and organisation structure.

Tactical & Operational planning

Signed off strategies are linked and translated to operational objectives and assumptions for the shorter-term plan. Examples could be;

  • headcount increase or decrease by role and entity
  • targets for specific skillsets and talent acquisition
  • Workforce retention – cross skilling, remuneration and so on.

As well as the July 2020 webinar more information on IBM Planning Analytics can be found here including customer case studies, access to a free trial, guided tutorials and much more.