Workforce Planning & Development - why does my small business need it?

Posted by Bruno Cozzi on 21/02/2019

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We work in environments that need to be compliant, ethical, customer-focused and secure. We’re paid to deliver optimal results in expected time frames within accepted budgets. Meanwhile, we need to consider our brand, digital marketing, social and environmental responsibilities and most importantly, our workforce. 

To make all of that happen you need an elite-team. A team that can communicate, think on their feet, and perform tasks effectively. You need skilled and capable people who can deliver the customer and organisational benefits you promised.

So what is Workforce Planning and Development and how does it fit into your world? 

Workforce Planning according to Wikipedia:

Workforce planning is a continual process used to align the needs and priorities of the organization with those of its workforce to ensure it can meet its legislative, regulatory, service and production requirements and organizational objectives. Workforce planning enables evidence based workforce development strategies. It is related to the systematic identification and analysis of what an organization is going to need in terms of the size, type, experience, knowledge, and skills of its workforce to achieve its objectives.


As a small to medium enterprise (SME), how do you determine the skills and competencies needed to achieve your business objectives? What strategies, policies and actions do you need to have in place to maximise your opportunities for building and retaining a skilled and capable workforce.

Your SME has challenges that are similar to those of the largest enterprises throughout the world. The main difference is scale. Scale is important, because a large enterprise WDP System designed to cater for 500,000 employees distributed world-wide will be far more complex and would cost substantially more than your SME needs to pay. Many organisations naturally conclude “if it’s good for Coca Cola, Nike and Apple then it must be good for me”. But is it? Scale has other implications that determine the suitability of WPD systems in an SME context. These may include: 

  • Overly complex billing services that operate under multiple tax laws, financial regulations and currencies that you don’t trade in. All that padding is irrelevant to you, but you’d still be paying to implement and maintain it.
  • Geographic segmentation by countries that you don’t deal with. Do you need to pay for the maintenance of global services that your business gains no benefit from?
  • Distributed and expensive cloud services designed to support multiple tenancies when all your services could comfortably sit on a single virtual machine (VM), efficiently running your application and hosting your data.
  • Services that replicate document management, email, HR and billing systems that you may already have in place, e.g. through Office 365. Wouldn’t it be better to integrate existing business systems that you’ve already invested in and that you’re satisfied with? 

These large multi-tenant systems were designed to meet the needs of large multi-nationals. They need to be maintained to comply with the tax and regulatory frame works of all the countries they operate in. Security, performance, and service level agreements are all based on large business models that don’t apply to you. And the resulting cost and system complexities go way beyond the needs of your SME. A well-designed system that delivers value and the services your need:

  • Will be simpler and easier to use,
  • Can maximise any system investments you’ve already made, 
  • Can be locally supported, 
  • Provide you cost effective and dedicated server resources
  • Better security and data sovereignty
  • At a substantially lower cost

The internet is overflowing with LMS Vendors claiming that their solution is the optimal tool for in-house training and assessment. A close study of most of them shows a strong bias towards eLearning, sometimes with a half-hearted attempt to implement “Instructor-led-training (ILT)” and perhaps one or two might dabble in classroom scheduling. Most Learning and Development experts believe that this is inadequate. 

Firstly, generic LMS vendors tend to deal only with the “10%” of the well know 70:20:10 performance management model. Most L&D professionals, even if they don’t agree with the exact ratios of this model, acknowledge the importance of real-life experience and exposure to the subject matter. This comes through working with colleagues, peers and continuous professional development in a real live workplace. 

Secondly, assessment through multi-choice quizzes can never replace an experienced assessor who knows the subject matter intimately and can properly evaluate an employee’s competency and ability to perform in the real world. Tick and flick assessments bias results in favour of those who are good at ticking-and-flicking, but may be totally inept at doing their job in a real work environment.

Thirdly, the LMS environment is known to have severe problems with proctoring and invigilation. The lengths some eLearning environments go through to ensure that the person taking the test is the same person who enrolled on the course, and that they are not cheating during the assessment are expensive and extreme. The average SME would struggle to justify the cost and inconvenience of providing a secure proctored environment. At some point all the benefits of online training are wiped out by the need for providing a proctored environment for assessments and quizzes.

That said, online learning brings real benefits in terms of convenience, particularly for subject matter that employees can read and digest in their own time, theory components, legislation, pre-course reading and even complete courses. In that regard the optimal solution is a blended environment. Program components that lend themselves to the online environment cost effectively can be delivered through an online course library, while critical assessment components that build experience, immersion and competency, can be provided in a traditional workplace environment.

Identifying what you need to efficiently plan and develop your workforce can be challenging. With over 20 years of industry experience, and thousands of active enterprise LMS users, we are happy to share our experience and help you succeed. Pre-order our latest eBook and learn industry proven strategies to:

  • Plan an effective capability framework
  • Identify the skills and competencies you need to succeed
  • Develop training programs to deliver, assess and validate competencies
  • Schedule training events
  • Manage training and assessment resources
  • Enrol employees into training events
  • Assess and validate competency
  • Certify and accredit training participants
  • Maintain currency and professional development
  • Create visually appealing and interactive Dashboards and Reports


TOPICS Corporate Enterprise Training Compliance Training Management Systems Internal Training Workforce Planning and Development

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