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Organization Manpower Planning
 

Manpower planning played a strategic role during the postwar economic expansion period when industries experienced an insatiable need for skilled labor.  In today’s world of contraction and turbulent change, it is even more compulsory to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of the human capital, hence survival, performance excellence and sustainable competitiveness of the organization.

Manpower Planning & Management Capability Levels of Organizations

Like any other area of organization management, manpower planning and management in organizations experience different levels of capability and success.  Where is your organization’s capability level on the scale below?
 

Capability Level

Appearance

4

Ace

  • Seamless transition from corporate strategy to HR strategy and workforce management
  • Full integration and synergy of HR functions
  • People know in advance what the organization requires of them, and can plan their own career and personal development accordingly
  • Efficient utilization of manpower

3

Perceptive

  • Strategic issues identified and proactively dealt with
  • Organized data ready for forecasting and making strategic decisions
  • Forward-looking and solution-finding approach in management
  • People development plays a crucial role and integrated into management planning

2

Able

  • Some plans/policy guidelines/procedures for certain areas in workforce management
  • Indicators/status reports
  • General feeling that something is being done to alleviate staffing problems

1

Emergent

  • Some people are underutilized, some vacancies unfilled
  • General feeling or symptoms of understaffed units
  • Manpower shortage cited as a major cause of poor performance
  • Shortage of certain types of people
  • Strategic issues marred from decision makers
  • Decision making regularly made on an ad-hoc basis

Manpower Planning: Signature Solutions’ Approach

  • Number is not everything;
  • The Plan is designed to be perpetually revised;
  • Focus on the core and the rest will fall into place; and
  • Connect organization structure, strategy, jobs and career path, thus, a comprehensive view of the organization’s
        people management scenario

Take a sports team, for example.  Every team has the same number of players in the field but not every team has good performance, thus number alone does not guarantee desired results.  Other factors like the game plan, personal capability, morale, teamwork, etc., play a much bigger part.   So merely having a right-sized squad will not take you to the finish line.  It only enables you to start.

We may even ask whether there is such a thing as ‘the right-sized squad’.  In sports, it seems there is.  How many people does it take to play rugby?  One may say fifteen.  But it can also be ten or seven.  A team comprises not only the players in the field, but also substitutes and some more.  Is there any magic number?  And what if we do not play only one sport?  How many athletes should a country have to win enough Olympic medals?  etc., etc.

Actually, no exact figures seem to provide the answer.  We instinctively know that, given players with reasonable talents, the more people we have in a team, the better chance of winning.  However, infinity cannot be the right size because the more people, the higher expenses and the higher managerial complexity it requires.  If there is a right sized squad at all, it must be relative to how much the team can afford and how it defines the term ‘manageable’.

In the same vein, instead of viewing manpower planning as specifying the magic number, we might simply start with some affordable and manageable numbers.  If we get it right, the right people can grow up to fit the requirements of the tasks.  A manpower plan should not be inscribed on granite, but sketched on sand to allow a reasonable level of managerial flexibility.  We decide on the optimum requirement for the moment, then roll our sleeves and take action.  In today’s volatile world, for most organizations it is overkill to spend a lot of time and other resources calculating the exact figures of manpower requirement and devise a sophisticated plan to recruit new talents in fanciful and expensive ways.  In most organizations, experiences of the management team and a back up of simple guidelines will suffice. 

Some organizations put a lot of energy into their manpower planning in an attempt to make the plan as close to perfection as possible, only to find themselves incapable of revising and redrafting the plan once the situation changes, and the organization needs to turn the bow towards a new course.  This is because not much attention was given to the revision mechanism at the outset. One can make the most of a plan only when one can control it.  

Control means no matter how the situation changes, one has methods and tools at hand to revise the plan as many times as needed.  Just like flying an airplane, if the weather does not permit the captain to land at the designated airport, he can take it to land safely at a nearby landing field.  While the manpower plan may need adjustment due to the changing situation and requirements, the exact same methods and tools should stay handy to provide management with certainty and consistency in dealing with the situation.  A sound conceptual framework plus a set of powerful and flexible organization tools thus play a crucial role in this regard.  When fully equipped, management can routinely face and handle structural changes unafraid and unabashed. 

PeoplePlan* is designed as a methodology based on Signature Solutions’ in-depth manpower planning research and extensive organization intervention experience to fully and flexibly equip organizations in their overall manpower analysis and planning, or to partially revise the plan, or to add on top of an existing manpower scheme designed by other methods as they wish.  The idea is to have a set of effective and handy organizational tools ready so that the owner feels comfortable using it over and over.  Besides, our optional, add-on features make it even easier to track and identify organization areas which need special attention.

To start on the right footing is to start with the most crucial tasks.  Solve the major issues first, and the rest will fall into place.  PeoplePlan*requires only a few workshops for organizations to come up with their Manpower Master Plan that supports the organization’s strategic intent.  This work step will yield manpower requirements for core positions.  Besides, urgent, strategic issues, existing or potential, concerning the organization’s manpower situation will also be promptly highlighted at this stage. 
Subsequently, line managers’ valuable experience, information, and insights concerning the organization, e.g., nature of the business, critical success factors, number and quality of people needed to carry out the organization’s core mission and strategic tasks, will be solicited as part of the drivers identification process to lay a solid foundation for detailed manpower analyses and plans to follow.

Since staffing issues do not end at having a plan, but a successful implementation of it, the plan should go beyond specifying the number and characteristics of people to fill in positions.  Classification of functions into core and non-core therefore provides a clear advantage from a strategic prioritization viewpoint: there is no point having enough manpower for non-core functions unless you have enough of your needed core personnel first.  Focusing on core functions first sets the right direction for the people management task of the organization, and helps complete the planning process faster without compromising the quality of the plan.  The types and number of people in non-core  functions will then be worked out based on organization-specific drivers identified in the previous work step. 

Symptoms of piecemeal planning surface, for instance, when an organization gets stuck with a bunch of skill obsolescence, or when the troop of promising talents do not have a career ladder to climb.  For most business organizations, these situations result in high turnover, which leads to overly expensive people management costs or compensation packages to attract and retain talents.  For public entities/organizations with no forced turnover, the problem could be worse.  People can end up with low morale, half-hearted performance, grievances, or unethical acquisition of rewards to compensate for their frustration and disappointment.

  1. Number is not everything
  2. The Plan is designed to be perpetually revised
  3. Focus on the core first and the rest will fall into place
  4. Connect organization structure, strategy, jobs and career path, thus, a comprehensive view of the organization’s people management scenario
  5. Manpower planning can serve as a hub that connects organizational strategy to staffing, jobs to staff career aspiration and people’s needs to the people management process.  If we have to plan, why not plan with work process and staff’s career consideration in mind, not just with the thought of filling people into jobs?  A good manpower planning scheme should pick up where the task of work process design ends, and pave the way for career path and succession planning in the organization.  When your organization’s career path or succession planning system needs adjustment, the manpower structure may also need revision.  When constraints are so overwhelming that an organization downsize is inevitable, there must be a way, if necessary, to trace back through your existing organization chart and work processes to identify the best solution.



  6.  

PeoplePlan* – A Comprehensive Manpower Planning Methodology by Signature Solutions

The methodology is designed not merely to assist you to come up with a comprehensive Manpower Master Plan, but also to serve as a pointer to related issues concerning your organization and people management to facilitate your change transition.  We designed PeoplePlan* based on our well-researched manpower planning methodology to ensure the following key client benefits: 
 

  1. Comprehensive: It is an all-inclusive package of tools for organization manpower planning of all magnitudes.
  2. Practical: It is effective and result-oriented, yet flexible and customizable to best suit the unique circumstances of organizations.
  3. Meaningful: It takes a quantitative means for qualitative purposes - in order to provide meaningful and powerful data to support objective analysis and professional planning.
  4. Versatile: It can be conveniently and seamlessly linked to organizations’ existing people management and administration systems.
An Overview of PeoplePlan*’s Process Steps



PeoplePlan* - a fully-integrated organization manpower planning system by Signature Solutions
 

  • Scanning: Understand the environment (external and internal) and its impact on human capital. 
  • Analyzing: Understand related facts and staffing issues.
  • Forecasting: Gather data and apply PeoplePlan* modeling simulation to obtain a projection of future workforce supply.
  • Estimating: Transform strategic intent into the number of workforce needed to carry out the tasks.
  • Gap Bridging: Devise action plans to bridge the gap/surplus, taking into account the organization’s external and internal environment and strategic intent.

PeoplePlan* can also provide the following additional, add-on features:

    • Career advancement simulation, which can be easily connected to an organization’s career path and succession planning, as well as talent/fast-track management systems;
    • Feedback report on the overall manpower audit showing level of staffing effectiveness and efficiency for further adjustments where necessary;
    • Identification of competency development needs required by the workforce to support the organization’s strategic intent and plans.

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