Workforce Planning Software: Start With a Template

January 29, 2019 by Josh Hrala

There are tons of workforce planning software options out there for you to choose from when you start an initiative at your organization. However, before you dive into a complex system that has specially designed tools, you may want to consider using a simple, Excel-based spreadsheet to get started with the workforce planning process.

This is because workforce planning requires a lot of data to be successful. In fact, that’s the exact reason why there are so many workforce planning software options available. Company’s have found that many organizations struggle to maintain all of this data across their departments, leading to the creation of special tools and packages that help you do so.

If you have already conducted the initial phase of workforce planning, you may want to jump right into one of these systems. However, if you are just starting out, it might be beneficial for you to use a template to get your feet wet.

If you’ve looking for a great template to get started, check out ours here:

Download Our Workforce Planning Template!

Now, let’s explore how a template like this can work and how it can act like a simple, customized version of workforce planning software that you can create and share internally.

First Off, What Is Workforce Planning?

You are probably aware of what workforce planning is if you are reading this article. For those that are just getting started, though, the whole process can seem daunting and overly time-consuming.

So, let’s start at the basics: what is workforce planning and why is it so important?

Workforce planning, in simplified terms, is the act of aligning your talent with your business goals. You need to ensure that you have the right people performing the right jobs to make sure that your business is marching steadily toward success.

To do this, you need to have a firm understanding of what your talent pool looks like, what needs you have, and how your business may change in the future.

Though this sounds like a no-brainer – of course you want to have the right talent to meet your goals – the process can seem incredibly hard to those that have never performed it before. In fact, many organizations say that workforce planning is one of their top priorities and also one of their biggest burdens because they keep putting it off.

Workforce Planning Software

What this means for you is that if you were to start workforce planning right now, you’d have a leg up on your competition (for the most part). And, with a plan on paper and some easy to use tools to back you up, the process really becomes quite easy.

The first step in workforce planning is really where a template and rudimentary workforce planning software can make things a lot easier. By erasing this barrier to entry, you will find yourself moving forward with the project in no time flat.

Let’s explore this step. If you want to learn about the whole workforce planning process in greater detail, check out our guide here.

Workforce Planning Software: A Way to Track Data

Like we mentioned up top, workforce planning software can really help you track all of the data points you will be collecting in the early stages of the process.

The typical first step – after an environmental analysis – is to learn about your current workforce, examining what skills people have, what promotions they may receive, when they will retire, and a slew of other information in between.

As you can tell from that very brief list of examples, you need to find a good way to organize all of this data in a way that can accessed by you – the HR leader – your managers, and your leadership.

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Workforce planning software is great at this because it puts all of this data in one place for everyone involved in the process to check out.

You can paint a more accurate picture of your organization and get to know what key steps you need to take in order to make your workforce align with your business goals in the long and short term, which is the entire goal of workforce planning in general.

For this type of information gathering, you can go with a top-notch workforce planning software provider or simply use templates that you combine together to assess your situation.

From there, you will need to breakdown this data and analyze your needs.

Using Workforce Planning Software to Analyze Your Workforce

This is really where proper, full-blown workforce planning software can come in quite handy. After you have this massive amount of data, you need to find ways to analyze it so that you can see what gaps you have in your workforce, what development plans you should enact, and a bunch of other things.

At this point, it’s all about changes that need to be made. How will you track them? How will you collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure that the needs are met? What systems do you currently have in place?

Workforce Planning Software

It’s a lot to handle. If this is your first time through the process, you may want to consider using templates, Excel documents, and things of that nature, though, because it will help you fully understand the process. Then, when you go to purchase a license for a workforce planning software system, you can know exactly what you want that program to handle. Without this knowledge, you may not have the expertise to make a great decision.

The Real Power of Workforce Planning Software: Continuous Monitoring

While we’ve talked a lot about how workforce planning software can help you keep track of data and share that data with stakeholders, the real benefit of using software is that it allows you to easily and accurately continue the workforce planning process.

Many organizations fail to see that workforce planning is an initiative that last over the long term. You cannot do one analysis and call it quits. In fact, the first time through is really all about getting the process started. After that, and for years into the future, is where the real work happens.

Workforce planning software helps you do this by setting reminders, easily making changes where you need to when your workforce or business goals change, and everything in between.

It’s a simple and easy solution once you have all of the pieces in place. Since this is where a lot of the processes fail, software can be a real lifesaver, giving your business a serious boost by helping you continually support your workforce into the future.

Using Workforce Planning Software: The Key Tips

When it comes down to it, using workforce planning software is entirely up to you. For your first round of information gathering, you may want to use simple tools like spreadsheets and templates to get the ball rolling.

Once you have that data and intent on continuing your workforce planning process (which you should always keep doing), you should begin to look at what workforce planning software suites are out there and what will fit your goals and needs going forward.

In the end, using workforce planning software is a great way to keep the process alive. One of the biggest pitfalls of workforce planning is to continuously monitoring how your actions are changing the business and the workforce. By using an outside program to help you make sense of the data, you will be more likely to keep your process going.

Want to get started workforce planning with a template? Check out ours here:

Download Our Workforce Planning Template!


Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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