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Introduction to Personnel Planning

These days, HR managers are playing more strategic roles to the businesses. The traditional administrative functions (e.g. payroll admin) are generally out-sourced so that they can focus on higher value adding activities of developing progressive HR polices and plans that align with the ever-changing business goals. They provide direct decision support to management in shaping the companies and in maintaining aggressive career plans to attract and retain talents amidst a highly mobile and demanding work force.

HR planning occurs at several levels: aggregated workforce planning at the strategic level; career planning of homogenous group of employees at the tactical level; posting and deployment planning of individuals at the operational level. At all these levels, technology has been harness to provide HR managers with sophisticated planning tools. Tools that empower them to conduct a more thorough analysis of possible policy options, to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative schemes prior to implementation and to apply & adjust personnel plans (e.g. deployment of scarce professional resources) in response to real-time business needs. Tools that allow the HR managers to make plans quickly and more frequently in order to keep pace with the dynamic business environment.

IDSC, is among the few, to have develop its indigenous suite of decision support solutions for personnel planning ?the Integrated Human Resource Management (i-HRM).


Overview of i-HRM

The defining feature of i-HRM is its integrated and unified framework, which ensure that the strategic, tactical and operational HR policies and plans designed by the users are coherent and consistent with one another. The followings illustrate the interrelationship of the 3 levels of planning.

The strategic manpower planning system recognizes that people display varying degrees of talent and leadership potential and that, for every organization, there is an optimal mix of leaders and followers that best served its business objectives. For some organizations, the division of talents could be even more refined; for instance, a further distinction could be made between a leader of leaders and a leader of followers. Regardless of the number of talent categories, the important point is that the careers of people from different talent pools would progress at different pace and terminating at different levels of competency. In short, the strategic manpower planning system explicitly captures the different talent pools that exist in an organization and determines the most appropriate sets of personnel policies to groom and retain the right mix of people to achieve the business goals.

While strategic planning system helps the HR managers to devise organizational wide personnel policies, the tactical planning system addresses the peculiarities and specific career needs of professions within the organization. As such, the key output of tactical model is a career plan that systematically grooms the right number of individuals to hold the various jobs. The career plan will spell out the sequence of jobs to assume and the trainings to attend so that the individuals going through the pace will gain the necessary exposure and experience to discharge the duties professionally.

Finally, the operational planning system assists the HR managers to formulate optimal personnel posting/deployment plan for the employees. With the exceptions of very small companies, where job changes (promotion or lateral move) are generally opportunistic in nature, most companies (especially the more structured institutions like the Armed Forces) can orchestrate job changes to ensure that both the individuals?aspirations and the organization’s objectives (as represented by the strategic and tactical goals) are well aligned.

In a nutshell, the suite of i-HRM planning systems produces results that are mutually consistent so that the employees would receive clear and unambiguous career recommendations.


Strategic Planning System

The Strategic Planning System in i-HRM comprises three modules:

  • Manpower Forecasting
  • Steady State Manpower Planning
  • Transitional Manpower Planning

Manpower Forecasting

The module is for analyzing the future manpower requirements of a company based on its future business plans, key workload drivers of the business (e.g. transaction volume or service levels) budget constraints and productivity enablers (e.g. automation or IT systems).

Steady State Manpower Planning (SSMP)

The SSMP module is used to answer questions like “How many employees should be recruited annually? How many can the company afford to promote? What should be pace of career progression for the different talent pools?? Hence, SSMP is employed to identify the ideal personnel policies to staff and maintain the organization in steady state equilibrium. A company is in steady state equilibrium when the inflows of personnel balanced the outflows. If the company’s actual HR practices deviate significantly from that recommended by SSMP, it would either encounter over-saturation in some job levels (leading to bleak promotion prospects for the affected employees) or under grooming of leadership successors; both with dire consequences. Alternatively, SSMP can determine the appropriate size and profile of the company that the prevailing personnel policies can sustain.

Transitional Manpower Planning (TMP)

The TMP module is used primarily to answer the questions of “How best to transit from the current manning situation to a desired end state? How long will the transition take? What policy changes could be effected to speed up the transition?? The module helps companies to plan for transition to a new structure due to a fundamental shift in business objectives or diversification of non-core business or a strategic acquisition of another business. Under such scenarios, the company would firstly run SSMP to determine the new streamlined structure needed to support the new business and then apply TMP to determine how to transit (gradually or rapidly) to the new structure.

While a typical manpower planning process would involve all the three modules of i-HRM (where the output of one module becomes the input of another), each module can be executed independent of the others. This is to create a more flexibility and useable i-HRM that can better deal with HR issues that tend to be dynamic and complex in nature.


Tactical Planning System

Currently, the Tactical Planning System of i-HRM has only one module Career & Critical Posts (C&CP) and it serves to help HR managers to formulate:

  • Typical Career Development Plan (TCDP) for each career (occupation) stream
  • Individual Career Development Plan (ICDP) for selected employees
  • Succession Plan (SP) for selected positions

In the C&CP module, every employee is assigned a career stream and he will progress through the ranks at a rate dictated by his career stream. While most employees would stick to their career streams, there are some who would cross over to another stream mid-way through their careers. For example, a professional may switch from a technical career path to a managerial career stream as part of the grooming process to prepare him for a leadership position.

Typical Career Development Plan (TCDP)

With the information on the mix of career streams that exist in a company, the C&CP is executed to determine a TCDP for every career stream. Basically, the TCDP recommends the optimal number of employees to recruit, promote and release from each job levels of the career stream. When taken together, abiding with the TCDPs will result in sufficient quantity and quality of employees being continually groomed to fill all the jobs in the company.

Individual Career Development Plan (ICDP)

While TCDP essentially serves as a generally guide to manage the job movements of personnel belonging to the same career stream, ICDP takes it a step further by identifying the sequence of posts that a particular employee should assume. ICDP, however, is not intended for every employee. ICDP is generated for a selected few, largely those that have demonstrated high leadership potential. Their personalized career plan will ensure that these talented few will be systematically move through the organization to network and pick up the relevant experiences for leadership roles. As a cross check, the C&CP would make references to the TCDP of the career stream that the employee belongs to when developing his ICDP.

Succession Plan (SP)

While ICDP determines the sequence of posts that an employee should assumed, the SP determines the ranking order of employees who are most suitable to succeed a post. Similar to ICDP, SP is not generated for all posts but for the few critical posts of the company.


Operational Planning System

Currently, the Operational Planning System of i-HRM also has one module Deployment & Posting (D&P) as the other modules (e.g. Performance Ranking and Staff Roster) are still being developed.

The primary objective of D&P is to assign the most suitable candidates to fill available job openings. The assignment criteria would include employees?job preferences, requisite competencies, career plans and succession plans. A defining feature of D&P is the posting chain effect. It recognize that an employee who vacate his job to move to a new job would, in turn, create a new job opening for others to move into it. Therefore, D&P will generate a complete posting plan, assigning employees to both real job vacancies (due to resignation or retirement) and virtual vacancies (due to posting).


Linkages of Planning Systems in i-HRM

The 3 planning systems, strategic, tactical and operational, are designed to be mutually consistent so that HR plans are integrated and congruent. Organizations using i-HRM would gain confidence that the postings, career plans and manpower policies are all pulling in the same direction, which is not always the case for many companies. Each module takes inputs from the others to create its plans within a coherent framework. The Posting & Deployment module is guided by the career plans (TCDP and ICDP) generated from Career & Critical Post module, which in turns is designing career plans within the context of the strategic plans established by the strategic planning modules. The Career & Critical Post planning module is thus the tactical layer that holds together the decisions planned at the strategic level with the decisions taken at the operational level.


Key Features of i-HRM

Integrated & unified framework Ensure that users designs coherent and consistent HR policies and plans.
Modular design Allows planning systems to be executed independently. Company can buy the modules that it immediately needs instead of the entire suite. Hence, cost would not be a factor that deters companies from acquiring planning capability.
Integration with MIS or database warehouse Easy and convenient means to extract and collate personnel data to generate input parameters for the planning modules.
Intuitive graphical interfaces Shorten the learning curve.
Intelligent application of optimization technology Ensure that optimal solutions are produced within a reasonable run time.
Quick deployment Can be deployed as an add-on to existing MIS or a standalone solution where system parameters are manually entered or loaded into it.
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