Headcount planning software: Why to invest in 2023

Learn everything you need to know about headcount planning software, including what it is, why to invest in it, and the benefits versus spreadsheets.
min read
January 30, 2023
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What is headcount planning software 

Headcount planning software is a tool used by businesses to plan their workforce. 

Many companies rely on spreadsheets for headcount planning. With software, all of the scenarios, approvals, hiring plans, employee information, and budgets are housed in a single software platform. 

Headcount planning software should sync with your other employee data systems. Those include the Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and Applicant Tracking System (ATS). With these integrations, the headcount planning tool can remain up to date and accurate – without any manual work.

One of the most important elements of a headcount planning tool is that it is accessible and easy to use for all key stakeholders in the process. Most often, Finance, HR, Talent, and budget owners (i.e. hiring managers, team leads) are important contributors to workforce planning. 

Unlike spreadsheets, a tool should enable these folks to plan their teams, track hiring, forecast budgets, and more with role-based access controls.

The key features of a headcount planning tool

  • Workflows - Headcount planning is such a collaborative process, but it should be standardized and predictable even as it continues throughout the year. With workflows for approving new headcount requests, backfilling positions, internal transfers, and more, the planning process gets easier and more efficient.
  • Analytics - Data is key to continued success in planning and managing headcount. Analytics dashboards help funnel the right data points up to executives so they can gain quick insights and observe trends about the company and its people.

  • Forecasts - The headcount plan is constantly changing; it is not static. This means that the original budget forecasts that Finance creates need to be updated as the plan changes. With a connected tool, these forecasts stay updated in real-time.

  • Scenarios - Leaders need freedom and space to explore how their teams can grow and change. They have ambitious objectives to help the business succeed, and their teams need to reflect those goals. With the ability to plan scenarios in a tool, leaders get to visualize their future team, compare it to other scenarios, and save their work. This way, when it comes time to execute their strategy, they have the headcount plan already built and it’s accessible to the other team members who need it (e.g. Finance, Recruiters).
  • Access control - Many companies are forced to make copies and copies of headcount spreadsheets for all the different stakeholders. Finance has once sheet, Talent has another, department leaders have their own. The only reason that needs to happen is because spreadsheets are difficult to access control.
    A software platform offers role-based access controls to simplify and streamline the process. When a user logs in, they can only do and see what they’re supposed to, based on their role in the org.

Track hiring process and progress

Headcount planning software is really helpful for companies to ensure their hiring plan stays on track. 

Talent acquisition teams can easily monitor the progress of their recruitment plan and share updates with everyone who's part of the process, including hiring managers, finance, and executives.

This way, the whole team can track hiring in real-time with streamlined communication and collaboration.

The tool should also include ways for recruiters to be more efficient, as well. The most important thing is knowing which roles are approved and ready to hire. Headcount planning software organizes this information in a simple way so that recruiters only work on approved roles.

Why to invest in headcount planning software

Companies that utilize headcount planning software are one step ahead when it comes to workforce planning. 

These specialized tools can save up to 30 hours per month by automating busywork and keeping financial forecasts updated in real time. 

Importantly, companies can become proactive rather than reactive when managing headcount. Because headcount is usually the biggest expense in the company, it’s critical to proactively track and forecast it. Accurate forecasts are the foundation of efficient growth. 

How to get started with headcount planning software

Step 1: Set your goals.

Before you can get started with a headcount planning software, you should set goals for what the tool will help you achieve.

Do you want to save time? Do you need a more standardized process? Are you trying to forecast with greater accuracy? Do you need better workflows for your hiring managers?

Once you have clear goals framed, you can choose the tool that works best for your company. 

Our customers typically are looking for the following outcomes:

  • Move headcount planning from lagging spreadsheets to a real-time system.
  • Save time managing, tracking, and executing the headcount plan.
  • Increase collaboration across teams – Talent, Finance, HR, and hiring managers.
  • Increase efficiency and agility when plans change – e.g. adjusting budget forecasts when new approved roles get added to the plan mid-year.

Step 2: Choose a tool.

Select a tool that matches the size and scope of your business, as well as provides features and functionalities that match your desired outcomes. 

Consider things such as scalability, time-saving, data security, reporting capabilities, user experience, and customer support when making an informed decision.

Step 3: Set up the tool for your workforce planning needs.

Once you’ve made your selection, you will need to configure it for use. For our customers, this means connecting their HRIS and ATS, and uploading their existing headcount plan into the system.

In addition, it involves setting up user accounts and defining roles and permissions. This is a key functionality of TeamOhana’s system, as we’re able to provide highly customized views and capabilities based on each individual’s role in the system. 

For example, only allowing people to see team members from their own department, or hiding salaries for certain users but not others. 

Step 4: Begin automating.

One of the biggest benefits of headcount planning software is that it automates busywork. The next step is to get started implementing workflows that are going to help your team be more efficient. 

Some of the common workflows in the TeamOhana system include:

  • Headcount requests and approvals 
  • Internal transfers
  • Promotions
  • Backfills

It is important to take the time to thoroughly configure the system so it functions properly for current and future requirements.

Step 5: Collaborate with team members.

Another great feature of headcount planning software is that it enables you to collaborate with all key stakeholders.

Ensure that these folks are trained in how to utilize it effectively. This will look different for each user. 

Recruiters should learn how to do one-click job creation in the ATS. Department leaders should understand how to request headcount, track hiring, and manage their budget. Finance should know how to approve roles and use the headcount ledger to forecast in real-time

When the tool is utilized properly, it creates seamless communication and collaboration with everyone on the team.

Headcount management to control spend and grow efficiently

Headcount planning software is a powerful tool that all companies should be exploring in 2023. It enables you to track hiring progress, budget more accurately, eliminate busywork, and help build a more collaborative environment. 

Not only will you save time in the short term, the long-term ROI is all about creating a more efficient, cross-functional, and proactive planning process. With all the features headcount planning software offers, there is no denying it should be integral to every business and its growth strategy. 

TeamOhana’s platform has helped companies like Docker, Invoca, and Newsela save time and plan more efficiently. Schedule a demo to see how it works → 

To learn more about TeamOhana and strategic headcount management, contact us.

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