running an action plan

Running an Action Plan Workshop

Collaboration in workforce planning is crucial not only because ideas are not created in silos, but because it means we get better ideas. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is through running workshops when you conduct action planning.

There are six key groups1 that we would want to include as a minimum in our action planning workshops:

  • Operational leads
  • Human resources
  • Finance
  • Procurement
  • IT/digital
  • Facilities/estates

Agreeing the levers

Action planning will be conducted across seven different levers: buy, build, borrow, bind, bounce, balance and bot.2 The likelihood is that an action plan will require multiple levers to be pulled in sequence.

Imagine your business has a challenge of an ageing workforce: we have key capabilities in an older population that are retiring and leaving you with a capability gap, and you forecast this is going to get worse over the next five years. One sequential approach would be:

  • Bind those with essential capabilities that are scarce in the organisation
  • Borrow essential capabilities to cover any shortfall
  • Balance the workforce requirements to optimise demand
  • Bot any repeatable activity
  • Buy new workforce capabilities to replace the borrowed workforce
  • Bounce the recently borrowed workforce and any redundant capabilities in your permanent workforce
  • Build capabilities in both the new workforce and the workforce with redundant capabilities

This would enable you to bridge the gap within the planning horizon and create a sustainable solution towards the end of the planning horizon.

That is the process to be achieved in the first workshop, to agree the levers. This is often best achieved through bringing together a senior stakeholder from each of the six groups and going through four key activities.

Articulate the workforce segment

The first activity is to articulate the workforce segment: who are they and what is the work that they do? Define these in terms of the rights of workforce planning so that there is a common use of metrics throughout the approach.

Articulate the existing plan

There will be plans that impact either supply or demand that are already in place and have been incorporated within your forecasts of supply and demand. Be it an existing plan to transform operations within a business area, or a new pay and benefits scheme that is expected to improve recruitment and retention. By articulating these plans upfront, you are ensuring that those in the workshop recognise that forthcoming initiatives have already been built into your forecast and the action planning is additive.

Articulate the problem statement

The next activity is to articulate the problem statement clearly so that all participants understand the gap to be bridged. This needs to be specific and define clearly:

  • The gap as it relates to each of the rights of workforce planning3
  • How that gap evolves over the course of the planning horizon
  • The most-likely, best-case and worst-case scenarios for those forecasts (and the factors influencing them)

Agreeing the potential initiatives

With an outline plan in place, we can run a series of similar but more targeted workshops to focus on each of the levers in turn:

  • Articulate the workforce segment
  • Articulate the existing plan
  • Articulate the problem statement
  • Share the outline plan
  • Consider initiatives within one (or more) of the specific levers

The attendees at these workshops will typically be less senior than at the first workshop and will understand the necessary detail to scope out these initiatives. The outcome of this second workshop will be a range of potential initiatives that can be taken through a subsequent cost-benefit analysis to understand the optimal initiatives. This provides a range of options to playback to senior stakeholders, who can take a data-led approach to decision-making and understand fully the picture of opportunity and risk.


adam gibson workforce planning
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