• Mel Newton, Partner |
4 min read

Business planning is a complex art that involves bringing data and information together from multiple functions within the organisation – but if it doesn’t fully embed workforce and people issues, it won’t be complete.

People are your critical resource, the enablers of almost everything you want to do. So, when developing an Integrated Business Planning (IBP) approach, it’s essential that people's data is embedded.

The Future of Work

So much has changed during the pandemic in terms of the way people work, and this must be integrated into the future. Where, when, and how work is done has been transformed through the mass remote working that COVID-19 ushered in. We are likely to move to a much more hybrid model through the recovery phase and beyond, with people back in offices more of the time – but still, the watchwords will remain flexible, agility, collaboration, and digitisation.

Thinking about how these forces will shape your workforce model is crucial if your IBP is to reflect the reality on the ground. And it has implications for IBP right away: if the key individuals from each function are likely to be remote from each other much of the time, what tools and platforms do you need to help them coordinate the planning process?

People leaders also need to thoroughly understand the impact of the skills on each part of the business of new ways of working and the market shifts that COVID-19 has created. In order for each part of the organisation – operations, manufacturing, distribution, sales, customer service, etc – to deliver on forecasts and targets, what skills and attributes are needed? Is there an upskilling/training need, and where? Do skills need to be brought in through recruitment or partnerships?

This leads us to what we call the 4 Bs behind sourcing: build, buy, borrow, and bots. The People team needs to work closely with the business to think through whether the skills needed can be trained internally (build), recruited in (buy), recruited in but with temporary workers or third-party service providers (borrow), or achieved through automation (bots).

As well as considering the shaping and sourcing of the workforce, you also have to think about workforce planning itself. What are the short-term operational needs, and the long-term strategic objectives? How does this vary across geographies and functions? How will you scale capacity up and down according to demand? And in the hybrid model we’re entering, how will you ensure that the business has the right people in the right place at the right time?

Embedding People into IBP

Managing all these facets is complex, which is where IBP can help because it brings people data and business data together in the same place. For it to work, you need to ensure that your systems ‘talk’ to each other – for example, connecting financial data and HR data through your ERP system. There are also specific workplace planning modules coming onto the market that can be integrated into ERP platforms.

My three top tips for People issues within IBP are:

  • Integrate your workforce planning with your business planning at both a process and systems level.  Include finance process and systems as a given, removing the irritant and admin cost of misaligned data.  Depending on your business and resourcing model also consider suppliers via supply chain and sales.
  • Get a full understanding of what work needs to be done in the business in the new reality we’re in and the skills required – then consider the 4 Bs for how you’re going to resource it. Ensure your strategic workforce plan reflects and executes the organisational strategy and purpose.
  • Data is key – review whether you have the tools needed to derive meaningful insights from your data to inform demand forecasting and strategic planning. A single source of the truth across functions is key for all areas of the business to make informed aligned decisions.

Remember also that effective people planning is a key cost lever. Missing signals and responding late to demand surges can prove expensive. Likewise having resources not optimised due to supply or demand issues. At a time when so many organisations need to keep a careful lid on costs, successfully integrating people issues into IBP not only drives business performance and efficiency, it can make a significant difference to the bottom line, as well as improving the employee experience and organisations work better together with single-source data.

Plan to Perform

At KPMG, we are helping organisations ‘Plan to Perform’ right now through our multi-functional planning expertise and technical alliance with Oracle. Find out more about our alliance with Oracle here.

Please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss any aspect of these people planning issues. We recently held a digital event discussing IBP, at which Mel was one of the speakers. You can find the on-demand recording here.