What Is Strategic Workforce Planning?

Strategic Workforce Planning and staffing involves analyzing and forecasting the talent - or competencies - that the organization needs to execute its business strategy. It is a proactive rather than a reactive process and is a critical strategic activity.

Strategic Workforce Planning, enables the organization to identify, develop and sustain the workforce skills and competencies it needs to successfully accomplish its strategic intent whilst balancing career and lifestyle goals of its employees.

Strategic Workforce Planning is a relatively new management process that is being used increasingly to help control labour costs, assess talent needs, make informed business decisions, and assess talent market risks as part of overall enterprise risk management.

Strategic Workforce Planning is aimed at helping companies make sure that they have the right people in the right place at the right time and at the right price. Through Strategic Workforce Planning organisations gain insight into what competencies the organization will need, and what competencies are likely to be available to meet those needs. In creating this understanding of the gaps between the organization’s demand and the available workforce supply, organizations will be able to create and target programmes, approaches and develop strategies to close the gaps. (Source: (mostly) Wikipedia)

IT Strategic Workforce Planning and Staffing

One of the most difficult things that IT management is having to come to grips with is the concept of Strategic Workforce Planning.

In the IT industry we have a history of skills shortage and oversupply swings.  We all remember the early 1990's when the industry cut its proverbial wrists – getting rid of uncountable numbers of IT talent as organizations downsized, rightsized, re-organized, and re-strategized.  At the time it would seem that no-one had their eye on what could happen just a few years later – the Y2K panic!

So, when it happened, the industry was desperately short of good, experienced IT talent.  This lead to some of the most unbelievable "retention" payments ever created.  In the short term we were lucky – Y2K fizzled, once again with mass retrenchments of IT talent.

Only to be awoken a year or so later with the "dot com" phenomena.  But this time it was different competencies that were needed.  Not the "legacy" skills so in demand for Y2K, but the new "netcentric" skills – which were precious few at the time.

Which was just as well, because "dot com" was shortly followed by "dot bomb" as organizations awoke to the fact that they had been "hyped" by the industry.  A client of mine remarked: "You guys got us once with Y2K, and then again with 'dot com', you're not going to get us a third time".

It was then that the industry went into a prolonged period of "limited" or no growth.  Jobs were scarce, no-one dared move.  But then business decided that it had come to grips with how it wants to harness technology to facilitate the
delivery of corporate goals and strategy.  So, right now, we are, yet again, in another high demand / low supply period – this time its Business Analysts that are the "hot" item.

The graph below, courtesy of www.workcentric.com, a leading provider of IT Salary Survey and Competency Profiling information, shows these swings.  This graph shows the "shortages" in the IT industry from 1990 to 2006.  Starting with the low demand in the early 1990s (the slashing of wrists), the growing demand leading up to Y2K, the post-Y2K slump, the "dot com", followed closely by "dot bomb", and the latest
shortages of 2006.   And all this in a brief 15 years!  Have you ever worked out the cost of these swings to your organization?

In this section of TalentAlign.com we will introduce ideas and methods for understanding the competencies needed for the delivery of IT Strategy, forecasting the demand, understanding the supply, and formulating strategy to ensure that YOUR organization has:

  • the "right" skills,
  • in the "right" place
  • at the "right" time, and
  • at the "right" price.

Below are summaries of articles.  To read the article in full, click on the relevant link.  To return, click "back" on your Internet Browser.


Are you Ready for the IT Talent War
We seem to go from feast to famine and back again at regular intervals when it comes to demand and supply of key IT skills. And, right now, like most organizations world-wide, you are probably struggling with key IT skills shortages – and the pressures of BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) do not make this situation any easier.
read more …

The Paper Trail of IT Workforce Management
The IT skills shortage is set to worsen leading up to 2010 – globally! And it has nothing to do with soccer! What does this mean for South Africa? Well, for one thing, it means that there is going to be increasing pressure from outside of South Africa for our high-level skills to move to the developed world. Not because of crime, not because they’re nothappy – but because they CAN!
read more …