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It isn’t a secret that “people” make up a significant part of a business’ expenses. According to a recent survey, labor costs attribute to approximately 70% of an organization’s total spending. The key to maximizing this large people investment is integrating a strategic workforce planning process.

When it comes to this expense, HR and finance aren’t always on the same page. Blurred lines still exist for who should have the final say on the investment—the Human Resources (HR) or finance team.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in many companies, HR and finance execute the workforce planning process in complete silos. Although they’re often committed to the same end goal—a successful company and a happy workforce—they approach these goals separately, relying on different insights, disparate lines of enterprise data solutions, and as a result, work off disconnected versions of “truth.” With little collaboration and communication, these distinct approaches can quickly lead to an unaligned and inaccurate representation of the workforce.

In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between HR and finance—looking into why these teams must work together as strategic partners. We’ll also dive into how integrating an enterprise data and analytics strategy can help unify your HR and finance teams so that everyone is working towards the same business goal.

Table of Contents

What is Workforce Planning?

Source: SAP

Workforce planning is the process of analyzing, forecasting, and planning workforce supply and demand, assessing gaps, and determining target talent management interventions to ensure your business has the right resources to meet its goals.

A workforce planning strategy usually consists of:

  • Predicting future workforce needs: Identifying future trends and detecting possible future scenarios—using workforce planning to understand what this will mean for your people.

  • Identifying gaps in the workforce: Discovering what skills are missing, determining when you’ll need these capabilities, and how long it will take you to obtain them.

  • Reducing costs: Uncovering unnecessary spending and taking the right action to decrease costs.

  • Improving workforce productivity: Determining where time is being wasted and increasing productivity by taking measures such as integrating new technology or outsourcing work.

  • Gaining the right balance between types of employees: Investigating the perfect ratio of full-time employees, remote workers, contractors, and part-time employees to maximize your business’ success.

  • Recruiting Strategically: Uncovering how hiring new people will impact your organization’s overall vision.

The Challenges with Workforce Planning Today: Build Bridges, Not Silos

There has been much debate on whether HR or finance should lead the workforce planning process—with little discussion around the two working as strategic partners. This most likely stems from the common view that HR and finance focus on very different aspects of the organization and as a result, are seen as speaking vastly different languages. HR speaks the language of people and values the workforce as its most important asset. While Finance understands the language of numbers and ROI and values quantifiable assets.

Unfortunately, this thinking is a common reality for many companies—where HR and finance teams operate workforce planning in silos. To make matters more complicated, HR and finance teams often rely on different lines of business systems, solutions, and sources—meaning everyone is working off of different data sets and as a result, different versions of “truth.” This makes holistic and strategic decision-making impossible across the enterprise.

Workforce Planning Can No Longer be a One-Team Job

However, when HR and finance work as a team, they can leverage each other’s strengths and expertise to create a holistic workforce plan that brings together the right talent at the right time and the right cost.

Think about it. HR and finance both have their own expertise, insights, and perspectives that, when combined, can improve a wide variety of workforce functions.

  • HR workforce planners have an in-depth understanding of people and talent that’s essential for designing an effective plan.

  • Your finance department has insight into where employees are adding value and what processes are succeeding. Your financial planners understand your organization’s strategy, historical costs, future plans, and overall financial landscape.

Without the ability to access up-to-date financial data, HR risks creating a hiring plan that doesn’t comply with the company’s budget—and as a result not being able to hire the best people at the best time. On the other hand, finance risks not being able to effectively plan bookings or revenue when they’re not involved in the workforce planning process.

So, what is the key to bringing your strategy, finance, and people together to elevate your workforce planning process?

The secret-weapon to aligning Finance and HR for workforce planning is integrating an Enterprise Analytics Strategy.

The Solution: What is an Enterprise Data and Analytics Strategy?

Source: SAP

Enterprise data and analytics strategy has many names – you might know it as “big data analytics,” “Enterprise Analytics,” “enterprise data and analytics,” “end-to-end data solution” or “cross-enterprise solution.” Whatever you want to call it, an enterprise data and analytics strategy is a means of providing organizations with the ability to consolidate, blend, model analyze, and process analytical data in all or most functions of the business.

Every day, businesses generate a vast amount of data from their customers and employees, in various forms and from multiple sources. For any business, collecting and managing all that data from across several departments is a tremendous task.

If you’re a larger, more complex company, your business generates even more data and requires extensive and sophisticated data management and analytics. To gain meaningful insights from all that data and get the full picture of your organization, you need to seamlessly connect to, integrate with, and blend multiple data sources.

An easy way to do this is through an all-in-one enterprise analytics platform, such as a single cloud solution for business intelligence and enterprise planning. Such a platform acts as a single source of truth, from which planning, reporting, and analytics can be accessed and executed by both your HR and finance teams. When your teams can bring all the enterprise-wide data together in one, unified platform, they have a 360-degree view of the business and as a result, can make the most meaningful decisions for the entire business.

Check out how Enterprise Analytics Elevates Headcount Planning
Read the Use Case

What HR and Finance Should Look for in an Enterprise Analytics Solution

Source: SAP

Trying to figure out what enterprise data warehousing and analytics solutions will work best for your workforce planning process? Here are some things you should look for:

1. Easily integrates with different solutions and data sources

The enterprise data and analytics solutions you choose should not only seamlessly work together to provide one source of truth but should also easily integrate with your finance and HR solutions.

For example, at SAP, we have tight integration between our enterprise data and analytics solutions: SAP Data Warehouse Cloud and SAP Analytics Cloud. For your enterprise data management needs, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud extracts, replicates, or virtualizes data to create one robust high-performing data layer with complex data models that span multiple data sources—including SAP S/4HANASAP SuccessFactors, and other SAP and third-party data sources.

With central access to all your financial and HR data, your organization has one source of truth that offers powerful analysis and reporting capabilities with SAP Analytics Cloud.

2. Free Ready-to-use templates

For beginners who aren’t sure where to start with transforming their planning data into models, reports, and visualizations, or even more advanced users that don’t want to start from scratch, having ready-made templates undoubtedly comes in handy.

For instance, at SAP, SAP Analytics Cloud contains a vast content network. This network includes pre-built end-to-end dashboard, plans and reports for, all tailor-made for your various finance and HR scenarios. One of our popular content packages is SAP Best Practices for HR Analytics with SAP Analytics Cloud, which includes:

  • Workforce Overview and Workforce Diversity: This dashboard visualizes key measures based on data from SAP SuccessFactors. Prebuilt charts provide insights into headcount and FTE trends, staff in management, turnover rates and the diversity of workforce in terms of gender, tenure and generations, as well as contract types and span of control.

  • Workforce Performance: This dashboard visualizes key measures based on data from SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP SuccessFactors. KPIs for Total Workforce Ratio, Financial Expenses per FTE, Financial Actual and Plan data by Cost Center are brought together with HR-related measures such as Headcount and Positions by Cost Center.

  • Finance Overview: This dashboard visualizes key measures based on data from SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Prebuilt charts show Balance Sheet, Net Income and Cash Flow data, as well as a Financial Statement table.

Source: SAP

3. User-friendly Collaboration Tools

As discussed throughout, collaboration between your HR and finance teams is essential to creating an effective workforce plan. The right enterprise data and analytics solution should make the collaboration between these teams seamless and easy.

SAP Analytics Cloud provides tools for collaboration during the data consumption phase—with features that allow you to ask colleagues about specific data points, assign tasks to teammates, and share private versions of the data to get input from key stakeholders. Having powerful collaboration tools make all the difference.

Source: SAP

4. Predictive and Smart Features

Imagine bringing together your workforce plan and actual data in one place, to enable continuous, event-based churn and budget forecasting instead of annual or quarterly planning cycles. Predictive features allow you to achieve just that.

Predictive features allow you to simulate and identify or analyze future trends using your existing finance data by connecting to your relevant data sources. When looking for your solution, make sure you have basic capabilities, such as automated forecasting, or more advanced features like predicting future outcomes to identify the probability of specific scenarios. Additionally, you can gain quick insights via natural language processing to easily ask questions and surface immediate results.

Source: SAP

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

A holistic approach ensures your people are set up for success and feel empowered. Learn more about what it takes to implement a comprehensive strategy in The Ultimate Guide to Enterprise Analytics.
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