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What is Workforce Planning and Analysis, and why is it valuable? – Dresner ranks Unit4 as a #1 vendor

In a recent podcast, I delved into the details of Workforce Planning and Analysis tools, and their value, with Dresner Advisory Service VP and Distinguished Analyst, Jim Erickson, and Michael Lengenfelder, Unit4’s Head of FP&A Product Management.

We discussed the value of this digital tool and why companies should pay attention to the product as it grows in use.

In Dresner’s 2024 market study, they ranked Unit4 as a #1 vendor for these tools, highlighting the need for the integration of HR and finance to create an effective cross-functional response to optimize HR costs and processes – keep reading to learn more.

Why is Workforce Planning and Analysis important?

In simple terms, workforce planning tools provide insight into HR that can’t be gained from legacy systems like Excel

Michael Lengenfelder identifies two key reasons why these tools are important, and why they are increasing in use. Firstly, “the workforce is key in achieving corporate objectives” and that analysis and forecasting of workforce data are vital for business success.

Secondly, Lengenfelder points out that costs related to the workforce are the highest in most organizations, Jim Erickson adds that as these organizations grow these tools become more important.

Moreover, these tools provide vital data that can be integrated into other business functions such as financial analysis and general budgeting, allowing them to be even more far-reaching and accurate. When you are in control of your data, you can better prepare for the future. 

In Dresner’s 2024 report Howard Dresner points out: “Facing an array of external challenges, organizations are looking for a more holistic approach to performance management to respond adaptively, make informed decisions, and execute strategies with precision.”

What is Workforce Planning and Analysis?

Workforce Planning and Analysis is a performance management tool. Many organizations may already use performance management and analysis tools within their financial function. 

Jim provides his own definition: “Workforce planning and analysis are the tools and processes that help align workforces with business goals, strategies, and workplace dynamics.”

Typically, costs associated with HR are often the highest for an organization. The main goal of these tools is to analyze the performance of HR processes and use the knowledge gained through analysis to forecast current and future needs, address imbalances, and reduce costs.

Strategic workforce planning provides performance analysis data that can identify HR operations that require work to be cost-efficient or provide a better employee experience - the kind of insight that would take investment and effort to gain manually. 

Once organizations adopt these tools, they gain great insight into not just HR processes and people performance, but how this affects other areas of business such as finance. 

With this, we can forecast for the future and be more prepared for, and adapt easily to, future problems.

 

 

Why should companies adopt workforce planning tools?

Large organizations need workforce planning tools the most, not just due to the number of staff, but because of the complexity this brings to data analysis. This complexity cannot be satisfied with legacy systems, such as Excel, that lack integration with the financial function and wider corporate strategy.

HR teams can regain control of their data, measure what they are trying to manage, and gain real-time insight not just for today but to plan for tomorrow, helping build robust operations rather than being bogged down in data entry tasks.

Dresner’s survey found near half of the respondents currently have workforce planning tools of some kind. This suggests that, even for smaller organizations, workforce planning tools are important, not just to compete but, to attract and retain modern talent with optimized HR processes.

A key benefit of Cloud-based platforms for HR is increased security. Dealing with personal employee data has huge data security implications, especially for large organizations. Yet, trusted Cloud platforms provide the security that spreadsheets lack.

We should pay close attention to the study’s insight into the degree of executive interest in workforce planning tools, showing that there are clear investment opportunities for digital workforce planning tools.

How an integrated Workforce Planning tool can inform wider corporate strategy

The fact the C-suite is interested in workforce planning tools demonstrates they are more than a cost-saving practice, but the wider integration of the tool is key to informing wider corporate strategy. 

Jim Erickson identifies how companies that adopt workforce planning tools achieve success with ‘business intelligence’ which is a testament to the ability of this tool to inform wider corporate strategy through integrated data.

Business intelligence is a key metric for Dresner Advisers, which Jim defines as “knowledge gained through the access and analysis of business information”. 

Jim highlighted in our conversation that business intelligence is defined by strategic success, led by informed decisions based on insightful and integrated data analysis. Integrated insight allows financial teams to include this in their forecasts and better prepare for future events.

It’s clear that those who have the tools to manage, analyze, and forecast their HR data are in better control of their business, their costs, and their ability to inform and achieve corporate goals.

Unit4 is considered a #1 vendor of workforce planning tools by Dresner

In the 2024 report, Howard Dresner notes “We congratulate Unit4 on their strong performance in our annual assessment of the Workforce Planning and Analysis market” where we were named a #1 vendor thanks to our integrated planning, analytics, integration, technology, and deployment capabilities.

By integrating finance and HR data, we create synergy between functions, delivering huge returns on investment through optimized use of current resources. This synergy means when the unlikely occurs teams are informed with the data and can adapt easily.

Join the conversation about the value of workforce planning by listening to our podcast to understand the adoption and trends by organization size and region, as well as what the key product priorities are for those investing in these tools. 

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