An Inside Job: Workforce Planning With Mick Collins From SuccessFactors

Mick Collins PhotoMick Collins knows workforce planning. Principal Consultant at SuccessFactors, Mick has seen the good, bad and ugly of predictive analytics. We’ve tapped into his wisdom for a special piece on one of hiring’s biggest pain points: recruiting internal candidates.

In his 2008 book “Talent on Demand”, Wharton School professor Peter Cappelli finds that the traditional approach to talent management, one centered on external hiring, is struggling to deliver the supply of talent matched to demand: “This reactive approach, which effectively relies on outside hiring, has begun to fail now…most employers began to realize that even when they hired experienced candidates, they were losing their own experienced employees out the back door”. This viewpoint was captured in a discussion on workforce planning with a Talent Acquisition leader from a medical devices firm. He described the firm’s rudimentary approach to recruitment planning as lacking:

  • An annual “heads-up” on staffing goals
  • A discussion of talent needs beyond headcount numbers provided to the Finance function
  • Lead time to prepare for hiring – Talent Acquisition is made aware of requisitions as posted
  • Coordination across a decentralized model where hiring is handled locally

While the solution to a reactive approach isn’t necessarily long-term forecasting – a win for the medical devices firm would be planning nine-months out, for example – the implication for recruiters, and their hiring managers, is that equal, proactive, thought must be given to:

1. Blending the focus on recruiting execution of staff planning with recruiting strategy focus of workforce planning:

Staff Planning

  • Filling vacancies today
  • Based on immediate needs
  • Encompasses entire workforce
  • Offers micro-view of talent
  • Financial indicator of success: Budget Spend

Strategic Workforce Planning

  • Anticipating future workforce mix
  • Based on strategy-driven scenarios
  • Focuses on critical segments
  • Enables macro-view of talent
  • Financial indicators of success: Revenues, Profitability, Total Cost of Workforce (TCOW)

2. Balancing strategies that build both internal and external pipelines to deliver optimal levels of talent according to the workforce plan.
Of course, every organization seeks to recruit/redeploy/retain internal talent, matching them to open roles. However, would your organization say that it does so with a level of commitment equal to the investment made in external hiring? Simply judging by the frequency with which firms recruit externally for succession positions, rather than promoting from the pool of internal candidates, I’d say probably not. Speaking from my own internal recruiting experience (i.e., as a candidate), I’d be interested in any organization that:

  • Creating a repository for employee profile data, so that hiring managers can easily search for internal candidates based on skills, experiences, prior roles, available for relocation, etc.
  • Rewarding internal referrals, in addition to referrals for external candidates
  • Truly investing in continuous assessments of potential career-paths, versus discussions tied to annual performance reviews
  • Making information on open positions as readily available to current staff as to job-seekers
  • Using metrics to reinforce the view that internal recruitment is as important as external hiring
  • Collecting, and analyzing, data that predicts potential attrition, thereby offering an opportunity to “re-recruit” staff who may have one foot out of the door

How Should I Get Started?

If your organization is new to workforce planning, here are a couple of questions to guide your thinking:

  • Business Drivers: What business issues (e.g., volatile environment, skills shortages, etc.) are driving the urgency for workforce planning
  • HR Capabilities: What is the capability and experience of the staff who will lead the workforce planning process?
  • Leadership Support: Is there Leadership/Executive engagement and commitment, and will they be accessible?
  • Methodology: Has a reliable, credible, and accepted framework and methodology been identified?
  • Process Integration: Is the workforce planning process integrated with other planning cycles and processes?
  • Planning Horizons: Is there a suitable time horizon for workforce planning (1 year, 3years)?
  • Data Sources: Is the data needed for a simple workforce plan (employee profile data, job family framework, termination and retirement patterns) available?
  • Communication Plans: Is there a communication plan in place? (e.g., internal marketing of workforce planning process, workforce planning collateral, communication of resources required)

Given the need to combine data from multiple sources, utilize a best-practice methodology, and be able to slice-and-dice your workforce plan, I would encourage you to take a look at SuccessFactors Workforce Planning, which is designed specifically to solve the problem of forecasting future talent needs. At the end of the day, matching demand with supply will require that Talent Acquisition plays an increasingly strategic role in flexibly forecasting talent needs (assessing demand) and in expanding the pool of candidates beyond traditional hiring sources (evaluating supply).



Mick Collins is a Principal Consultant at SuccessFactors – An SAP Company. Currently Head of a global Sales Acceleration team, Mick is responsible for supporting the SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics & Planning products. His expertise in the areas of workforce planning and predictive analytics have made him a highly sought after thought leader. Recent Articles Include: “Executive Interview With Mick Collins & Steven Hunt” (IHRIM Workforce Solutions Review, 2012), “Workforce Data in the Boardroom” (IHRIM Workforce Solutions Review, 2011), “Beg, Borrow, or Steal” (Talent Management, 2010).

Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Kayla Kozan

Kayla Kozan

Director of Marketing at Ideal
Kayla spent the last few years studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship on 3 different continents. Now covering the latest in predictive analytics, workplace diversity and big data. She has a keen interest in tech and discovering underrated brunch spots.
Kayla Kozan