Saturday, 14 November 2009

Mary Young, Conference Board on Workforce planning


DSCN1815   We also had a couple of sessions on the use of workforce analytics in workforce planning during the InfoHRM conference earlier this week.


Anastasia Ellerby of InfoHRM ran through some key themes from her 20+ WFP projects.  These included:

  • Organisations believe WFP should be easier.  Organisations need a tool to assist in gathering data and to enable organisational analysis of gaps.  But this is usually a new dialogue at the executive table, and does take time and resources.
  • Organisations want to integrate skills and competencies into WFP but a there is usually a large information gap
  • Improving WFP processes is an iterative effort.
  • The process needs to be aligned with Finance and business planning cycles
  • There is a need for more, not less information – a need to understand the external workforce more, and a need to understand career paths and feeder pools into critical job roles.


We also heard from Mary Young at the Conference Board (in photo) who provided a couple of case studies:



The first comes from Lacey All at Starbucks.  It’s never been difficult to recruit enough barristas – the company is flooded with applicants.  And year after year they are recognised as being an employer of choice.  But it wasn’t until they embarked on WFO that they could see whether their investments were in line with their business strategy.


IBM Workforce Management Initiative (WMI)

IBM needs to manage 400,00 employees globally as a common talent pool.  They’re ‘geographically agnostic’, ie it doesn’t matter where someone is based, so their definition of WFP is about getting people onto the right projects without having people sitting on the bench (it was the rise in this figure that seemed to trigger their major round of redundancies earlier in the year).

The building blocks of this approach are:

  1. A common expertise taxonomy describing all job roles
  2. A common expertise assessment based on the expertise taxonomy which needs to be completed (and updated) by all professional employees (IBM makes sure this is done, eg someone does not attend training or move jobs etc if this has not been undertaken)
  3. The result of this is an expertise inventory providing data on talent, expertise, and other relevant information.  This is searchable and is kept up-to-date.
  4. A professional marketplace enabling redeployment managers to search for and match staff to a project
  5. A global opportunity marketplace supporting the hiring, transferring, seeking regular jobs (IBMers are responsible for their own career)
  6. CITRuSfor obtaining contractors
  7. Learning @ IBM
  8. CV Wizard.




The approach is apparently making a big difference to the company (for example, allowing them to make 600 redundancies earlier this year):

“The ability to integrate is IBM’s biggest competitive advantage in the marketplace….
“IBM needs a workforce process that allows visibility across the enterprise. This is a business imperative.”
Karen Calo, VP HR Systems and Technology Group and Regional HR Support


There was some debate about whether this case study really is an example of WFP since it focuses on the matching of supply and demand which is only really an issue in professional services and similar firms (although if the changes Caroline Waters referred to take place, this may become a more common model).  And because it does not deal with issues such as organisational design and flexible working.

To me, this just emphasises the need for WFP processes to be tailored to individual firms, their particular environments and requirements etc.  And it’s certainly a good example of a broader human capital planning approach.





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