What Is Operational Workforce Planning and Its Importance?

November 17, 2022


Deploy the battle-ready workforce        

At a glance
·       “Quiet quitting”
·       Planning steps
·       Assessing people
·       Why operational workforce planning is important
·       Enterprise-class software platform for workforce planning

Strategic workforce planning is like keeping your gunpowder dry, keeping it battle-ready. You need to put it to good use, or else it will lose its power. For this, you need to do operational workforce planning.

There is nothing worse than hiring a talented person and not using his or her talent well. Do that to a lot of people and you have a big problem at hand. Talented people don’t like to waste their time doing jobs not worthy of them.

They quickly become restive. Many of them won’t articulate their frustration. If you are not meticulous in your operational workforce planning, you are setting the stage for that ‘quiet quitting’.

Capacity resource planning is a part of operational planning. It aims to optimally utilize people for various projects and tasks. The process of planning has several steps.

For every project

Preparing work breakdown structure (WBS) consisting of specific tasks and project planning

For every task within each project

Match tasks with people who possess requisite skills and competencies and short-list them.

Resource allocation and scheduling

Allocate resources to all projects and for all tasks as per the project timelines

Resolve scheduling conflicts by reallocating some people

Tracking and rescheduling

As the execution of projects proceeds, accommodate the changes needed by following the above steps.

It’s not that simple

The above operational workforce planning looks straightforward. But it isn’t. There are some critical areas. These need to be done well.

The first set of critical areas consists of WBS, task lists, and task-wise skill sets. These need to be defined uniformly across the organization. In other words, you need repositories of tasks, skill sets, and task-skill-sets combinations.

The second set consists of person-wise-skill-set repositories. Naturally, the skill sets have to be consistently defined across your organization.

Both the above are part of strategic workforce planning. They need to be updated periodically. 

Finally, individuals needed to be identified for performing various tasks in all the projects under execution. The intersection of tasks and people skill sets provides short lists of people. Allocating specific project tasks to individuals is the final step.

This too is critical because you need to consider the special nature of projects and the developmental needs of individuals. If you have a good enterprise system that supports all the above, your leaders will have all the information at their fingertips.

The role of the Project Management Office (PMO) 

You may have a Project Management Office or a Resource Management Group (RMG) to finalize the allocation of resources. Whatever the case, allocating people to various projects-tasks must be a collaborative exercise.

The exercise should take into account the needs of customers, project managers, and individuals. Individual preferences and biases are inevitable. Your leaders need a solid base of all relevant information to make the necessary trade-offs.

Assessing people and their skill-sets

Individuals need to be assessed to determine what skill sets they have and at what level. This assessment can’t be static, nor can it be an annual one-off exercise. Every individual’s performance related to specific tasks needs to be taken into account. Every project needs to be closed with such assessments and the result should be reflected in the people-skill-set repository. This is a part of strategic workforce planning and is very critical.

Foundation of operational workforce planning

Operational workforce planning is best done on the foundation of strategic workforce planning. The results of workforce deployment should provide feedback for updating the people-skill-set assessment.

The importance of operational workforce planning

When done well, it ensures orderly execution and delivery of projects. It ensures that the resources are utilized optimally. It saves costs. It engages people by giving them the work that they need.

You need an enterprise software platform for workforce planning

If you have 100s or 1000s of employees, you need to digitize all the above processes and repositories. You also need to interface them with other operational areas like HR, project planning, and project bidding. An end-to-end opportunity-to-cash professional service automation software can provide the required platform and integration. Contact us for a demo at



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