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Workforce Planning for High Tech: De-Siloing Your Decisions

Tech companies trying to figure out workforce planning should embrace connected planning to align team plans with organizational strategy.

Companies need an approach to workforce planning for high tech’s unique circumstances.

In the tech industry, information silos arise for many reasons. Some come from team purposes or locations, while others are more about relationships and personalities. But the most important silos to address are the ones caused by disconnected planning. In areas where individual teams or departments often make their own decisions, it can be challenging to reach decisions—and workforce planning represents one of the largest areas of disconnect.

The current economic climate makes this challenge especially urgent. High interest rates and persistent inflation have led many tech companies to undergo layoffs, and tech companies must be thoughtful about managing their workforces. Companies that solve their workforce planning problems will be better positioned to compete. But before we talk about the solution, how do these challenges start in the first place?

How workforce planning silos happen.

Imagine a tech company, that we’ll call Exampyl, deciding how to invest in its business. On one hand, the company can invest in product innovation—developers, engineers, and others creating net-new products. On the other hand, Exampyl can invest in their current customers, hiring CSMs and customer support staff to drive greater customer satisfaction and adoption. Either one of these might be the right plan. The problems arise when it comes to who makes the decision.

In one corner of the office, the product leads are making plans for their own teams, estimating retirement attrition, historical unexpected attrition, and where critical role replacements will come from to determine how many engineers to hire. Meanwhile, on the other side of the office, the company’s go-to-market team is evaluating their needs for new team members based on sales goals, expected deals, and projected retention. Satisfied with their numbers, both teams submit their budget proposals for approval.

There’s just one problem: The product leads have a plan that fits their department’s needs, primarily informed by their product timelines, and the GTM leaders have a plan that works for their game plan. Combined, they don’t add up to a real strategy for how to allocate resources—instead, they’re two competing visions for the future of the company.

Even highly competent tech companies see silos naturally occur among departments, regions, and projects. But just because this is a common problem doesn’t mean it’s not a big one. First, it wastes time: Decision makers at this hypothetical company now have to play referee between their two teams, deciding how much of each team’s budget to fund, and going back and forth to get to a final plan. It also leads to longer-term challenges, as companies that let their workforce planning data become siloed often wind up with inconsistent and inaccurate data. This can hurt their ability to predict future performance and lead to bad decisions.

To reach harmony, organizations must break down silos and connect all departments with effective, empowering, strategic workforce planning.

Empower your decision makers to build connected workforce plans.

To effectively define your future state, decision-makers at every level need to be able to plan collaboratively. Connected planning systems solve this problem by giving FP&A teams the ability to pull in workforce plans from the disparate teams they serve and reconcile them in one place—seeing the impact of specific decisions, testing scenarios, and giving their colleagues the information they need to plan.

Companies should adopt workforce planning systems that automate the collection of all plans company wide, allowing leaders to see in real-time how their planning inputs affect the organization, not just their department. Product, service, and other team-based senior leaders can develop their departmental workforce plans through a customizable system and then quickly see the implications of their decision.

Think about how this would work at Exampyl. With a connected planning system in place, the company’s product leads and go-to-market team that we talked about before still submit their own individual workforce plans—but Exampyl’s FP&A team now gets both of them in a system that makes it clear how they compare to baseline spend and how each will affect next year’s budget. The FP&A team can also compare the two plans to each other in an apples-to-apples format and then determine the right balance between development and support talent for the company’s overall needs. Through this system, Exampyl winds up with workforce planning that works for them.

Adopt position management.

As we’ve discussed, data silos aren’t solely technology problems, so a company will need more than a technology solution to fully streamline their workforce planning. Many tech companies have turned to position management to solve the process end of this problem.

Without position management, it’s difficult to maintain data on your organization’s workforce. Sure, you have records of your individual employees—but when someone leaves a role (whether that’s for another role in your company or for greener pastures somewhere else), you lose the record of their time in that role. And in the workforce planning process we’ve been reviewing here, talking about your workforce in terms of individuals makes it tough to compare plans. Given the tech industry’s constantly shifting workforce, you’ll need a better solution.

Position management is simple: the basic unit of workforce planning is the individual position, not the individual employee. When an individual moves out of their current role, their data stays attached to the seat, so you can preserve your organization’s shape and understand the attributes and responsibilities associated with a position.

In context, this can simplify silos as well. Exampyl’s go-to-market team thinks about the individuals that they need, but HR and FP&A teams need standardized terms for workforce planning. You can’t run a multi-billion-dollar company on “we need three more Emmas and two more Daves this year”—and workforce planning using position management means your decision-makers are using more standardized terms like developers, customer success managers, and so on.

Spaulding Ridge has your workforce planning needs covered.

As you pivot your workforce to get ahead of emerging technologies, adopting connected planning and position-based workforce management is more relevant than ever. Spaulding Ridge uses Anaplan in conjunction with HR systems like Workday, Oracle, SAP to solve workforce planning and position management, as well as planning-friendly data systems that help you use the best possible data in your analysis.

Connected workforce planning isn’t just a digitization of existing data, but a true transformation that simplifies one of the thorniest questions your company faces. To get started, we’re happy to talk—contact us today to discover a more united, consistent, and strategic organizational state for your workforce planning.