Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic posed many new challenges for organizations looking to rapidly and effectively scale up their resources to meet project goals. Here are some things your project portfolio teams can do to address these challenges.
At the onset of the pandemic, some organizations were scrambling to find ways to keep their doors open due to imposed restrictions, while others were blindsided, scrambling to meet customer demands with a smaller workforce. From small businesses to large enterprises and institutions, there was suddenly a need to reflect on what to do next, reinforce a commitment to the well-being of everyone, and redeploy a modified workforce and maximize their contribution to respond, recover, and thrive.
Workforce planning and sourcing challenges had become the name of the game across the globe, with some of these challenges becoming the most common.
Key workforce planning and sourcing challenges
- Rapidly developing a plan to transition to a new way of working
- Transitioning on-premise workforce to remote
- Quickly identifying new skills gaps
- Conducting scenario planning to address emerging risks
- Implementing remote tools to sufficiently support teams working from home
- Rapidly scaling up resources to meet new demands
To address some of the challenges, recent findings by McKinsey spell out the need for organizations to rethink ways of working, reimagine their structure, and reshape talent. All three of these activities are in an effort to step up execution excellence, speed up and delegate decision making, cultivate extraordinary partnerships all around, and to rapidly scale up talent to successfully meet operational and project portfolio goals.
Effectively and rapidly scaling up talent has always been a challenge under optimal conditions; on the backdrop of a global pandemic, this had become a mission-critical and somewhat daunting project for virtually any business — especially with COVID restrictions hampering resourcing options.
Rapidly scaling up resources
Being able to accelerate workforce planning strategies with limited and remote resources remains the same today as it’s been pre-pandemic, much of the struggle of conducting scenario planning and rapidly scaling up resources to meet new demands rests on having the right technologies to reduce manual workarounds. When it comes to workforce changes and being able to respond, recover, and thrive, Deloitte explains, “Scenario planning for the medium term and ‘new normal’ workforce options will be foundational to guiding recovery efforts.” Their findings confirm that scenario planning ensures that businesses can:
- Deal with the present situation while managing continuity
- Learn and emerge stronger
- Prepare for and shape the “new normal.”
Deloitte explains, “Organizations must plan for multiple scenarios and time horizons, as they shift from crisis response to recovery before they can regain or maintain a competitive advantage and begin to thrive again. According to Scott Engler, VP of Advisory at Gartner, gaining a competitive advantage rests on “futuring”— workforce planning for future strengths, fueled by technology and labor market analysis to deliver greater flexibility, well beyond the constraints of legacy talent management processes and assumptions. This means adjusting expectations as well as former assumptions and recognizing the new realities:
- Talent is no longer geographically limited
- Remote work increases flexibility, productivity and reduces costs
- Roles are now being broken down into skill clusters
- Skill gaps can now be more easily filled through the gig economy and consultants
But it’s not enough to simply accept and recognize the new realities of a future workforce, post-Covid, organizations need to develop workforce planning strategies that address limited remote resources, gig economy workers, and consultants.
Workforce planning strategies
How will organizations secure and deploy talent and skills to essential workflows? According to findings by Gartner, by developing new strategies, rapidly identifying skills gaps in real-time, and by doing the following:
- Identifying and analyzing business conditions internally and externally
- Identifying essential skills
- Analyzing the availability of skills
- Creating a talent plan
It’s only in being able to forecast resources with your planning that your workforce can continue to drive strategic initiatives. Accurate and flexible resource forecasting ensures your organization is equipped to quickly and successfully redeploy limited remote talent, launch new business models, improve productivity, develop new products, shift operations and gain sustainable speed.