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First things first: I am a big fan of Science Fiction movies! ‘Back to the Future’, ‘I, Robot’, or ‘Minority Report’ are just some examples of my personal favourites 🙂 Most inspiring for me is to see so many different opportunities on how the future world may look like.

That’s one of the reasons, why it is so cool to be part of #FutureofWork, because we can write our own script for the future 😉 As Strategic Workforce Planning team our mission is clear: Set the path for a future-ready workforce. It´s one of our strategic dimensions as part of our holistic Future of Work agenda at SAP. To learn more on our holistic approach check out our Thought Leadership Booklet.

How are we doing Strategic Workforce planning? First, we are providing insights on current workforce composition and looking at market trends. This helps us to then derive the desired future state, all along workforce dimensions as e.g., skills, roles, or age composition of the workforce. Second, we are triggering action paths to address gaps identified to reach desired future state, together with our HR colleagues and the business units.

Most tricky in this process is to derive the desired future state. As one method we leverage scenario modeling to develop potential future options, by identifying relevant levers to influence the future, then model the outcome of the different options and show how this will affect our workforce.

My key learnings so far:

  • Start simple: Take a workforce dimension that is ‘easy’ to model – for instance, we started with the age composition of the workforce: Everyone is getting one year older (every year), what of course leads to another age composition in the future. To be more precise in the model, we also added hiring and termination patterns based on historical data and / or external trends.

  • Precisely describe the scenarios: Start with a baseline scenario first and develop at most 2 or 3 more options. In the age composition example, our baseline is the current workforce (‘As Is’) and how it will develop over the next 3-5 years if things go on as they are. To now show effects of different strategies to influence the age composition of the future you can play around with influencing levers: For instance, we select one extreme scenario focusing on hiring mainly junior.

  • Interpret the data in the right sense: Most scenario planning is based on assumptions. Be clear about, that you’ll never come to accurate numbers, but you can predict trends and make effects of different strategies transparent. Finally, this can help to make better informed decisions.

  • Decide on a desired future and derive actions: It is important that the results and findings of scenario modeling provide the right insight for decision makers to come up with the right decisions to reach the desired future state. The scenarios provide them with different options. In our example: What is our optimal age composition and how do we get there?

And by the way: Of course, it is not only about the optimization of the age composition, but a lot of side effects to be considered as e.g., risk mitigation about knowledge loss, impact on productivity or innovation capabilities and so much more.

I would be curious to learn how you are leveraging scenario modelling to improve business decisions. Please share in the comments and let's discuss 🙂