Is it Time for a Workforce Planning Audit?

October 29, 2014 | Tracey Smith | HCI
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Perhaps you’ve been on the workforce planning journey for a year or two or perhaps even longer. You’ve come a long way and now you are starting to wonder how mature your workforce planning function is relative to “best practice” and other companies. It may be time for a third-party audit of your strategic workforce planning initiative.

For those less familiar with workforce planning, I’ll list the five basic steps that I outline in my book, “Strategic Workforce Planning: Guidance & Back-up Plans.” I list them here because research will show you multiple models and the steps listed below will put this article in context.

  1. Determine the roles of interest (critical, pivotal roles).
  2. Establish the current state and historical trends.
  3. Determine desired forecasting scenarios.
  4. Perform gap assessments.
  5. Establish action plans.

Suppose you take a look at this list and say, “yes, we’ve done all of that inside our company.” The level of maturity of your workforce planning function is not in checking the box on each of these steps but in the details behind each step and how integrated some of the actions are within the company. By having an expert audit your workforce planning function, you will be able to establish whether you are “best in class” or still “on the journey.”

An audit would include interviewing not only the team members of the workforce planning function but also the internal customers served by this team. While I could list over 60 audit questions, for the purpose of this article, I will provide just a few examples for each step.

  • How aware is the workforce planning team of the impact of aging demographics on the company?
  • How has your workforce planning initiative been integrated into your normal business planning process?
  • To what extent does your company analyze turnover?
  • How is your workforce planning team aligned to internal customers?
  • How does information flow from your workforce planning team in / out of the rest of the business?
  • Which processes in your company have been altered as a result of workforce planning analyses?
  • How do internal customers rate the value of your workforce planning process?
  • How do you examine external supply?
  • Do you perform make / buy analyses for gap resolution?
  • What other functional areas receive workforce planning information and what decisions or planning do they perform today that they could not perform previously?

Several of these questions will assist you in determining whether implementing workforce planning has had a significant impact on the way you establish your future workforce and the way HR serves its internal clients.

So, what will your audit reveal?


Tracey is the author of “HR Analytics: The What, Why and How” and "Strategic Workforce Planning: Guidance & Back-up Plans." She is the editor of NI Magazine, a global e-magazine dedicated to HR analytics and strategic workforce planning. She holds degrees in Mathematics, Engineering and Business from universities in Canada and the U.S. and has over 20 years of experience in the areas of Human Resources, Supply Chain and Engineering. She was born in the U.K. and has worked in both Canada and the U.S.

Tracey is an independent consultant and her company, Numerical Insights LLC, helps clients in the areas of HR Analytics, Workforce Planning, and HR Process Improvement.

You can find Tracey on the web at:

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