5 Ways to Improve Your Workforce Planning with NetSuite

Rami Ali, Sr. Product Marketing Manager

April 25, 2022

For many organizations, payroll is the largest single expense. And now a tight labor market, rising inflation and uncertainty about the global economy mean workforce planning is taking on even greater importance. 

Workforce planning is essentially the process of ensuring a company has the right people with the right skills in the right positions now and in the future. With robust workforce planning, businesses are prepared for events, like a talent drain due to attrition or retirements or a labor shortage, that can negatively impact finances, product development plans and customer relationships.

That level of preparation can be a difficult task, however. It requires an understanding of current staffing, experience and salary levels; the skills available in the marketplace; education and training programs where the business hires; and accurate forecasts of what needs will arise in the future. To collect that data, businesses need HR systems for stats on existing employees and salaries as well as access to forecasting tools and operational systems for insights into new products or services that may be on the horizon. 

What demand can you expect for new product lines? What will labor costs be in a new territory? Answering these questions with a level of certainty requires current and historical data to inform forecasts.

For most organizations, efficient and successful workforce planning is still a work in progress. Often decision-makers are hampered by clunky, error-prone legacy systems and spreadsheet-based processes that can’t keep up with rapidly changing business and market conditions. Relying on spreadsheets and outdated planning solutions can leave you unable to adapt to the dynamic needs of your business. Plus, you’ll have a workforce that’s out of sync with finance and corporate strategy.

NetSuite customers have realized the value of eliminating spreadsheets and integrating HR and financial planning processes with a unified workforce planning solution. NetSuite Planning and Budgeting(opens in new tab) for Workforce Planning enables organizations to effectively manage and forecast workforce costs and provides important visibility for connecting strategic workforce plans with financial plans. NetSuite Planning and Budgeting tightly aligns HR and finance to help companies hire the right skills and talent at the right costs.

Accurately Plan and Forecast Your Workforce with NetSuite

Finance and HR leaders who replace siloed and disconnected processes and environments with an integrated workforce planning solution find that they can plan their hiring in sync with corporate strategy, financials, departmental budgets and forecasts. This helps HR teams transition from tactical headcount management to strategic workforce planning (opens in new tab)that puts the right people in the right places, efficiently and cost-effectively.

NetSuite Planning and Budgeting offers a workforce module that provides up-to-date information on workforce expenses for your business. It allows you to model future headcount and employee-related expenses with minimal effort using pre-built drivers, forms and dashboards.

Improvements business gain from holistic workforce planning(opens in new tab) include:

1. Better workforce planning: By tightly linking your financial and HR data from NetSuite SuitePeople(opens in new tab) or another HCM source system into NetSuite Planning and Budgeting, you can automatically tap into data sources, such as salary and benefits benchmarking data, to drive more accurate workforce planning decisions like hiring, promotions and training programs.

2. Improved salary and compensation plans: Look at total compensation, including bonuses, benefits and other expenses, for current and new employees. NetSuite customers can leverage workforce assumptions that have been preconfigured by administrators, such as pay schedules, annual rates required for employee benefits, taxation and other workforce-related expenses that vary by work location.

3. Accurate company rosters: Stop copy-and-pasting employee information from your HR system into a spreadsheet or disconnected planning solution and eliminate duplicative, error-prone processes. Automatically bring your employee roster from SuitePeople into NetSuite Planning and Budgeting to model workforce changes, such as transfers and compensation increases. You can review employee information by department; verify salaries; update employee fields, such as full-time or part-time; and dial other compensation assumptions, such as overtime, bonuses and merit increases, up and down to test various scenarios

4. Ability to fill workforce gaps: Set up new employees directly in the planning tool by entering hire date, job title, salary, department allocation and other workforce-related details. You can also view and manage employee status to see who is no longer with the company or planning to retire or shift to another role. The workforce planning module allows you to easily project future activities, such as an employee's departure or leave of absence or a lateral transfer between departments or subsidiaries. Planners can easily configure demographics by headcount, gender, skill set, age, education level and more to plan for future operational needs and fill gaps as they arise.

5. A deeper understanding of workforce data: View a summary of company expenses, department employee expenses and department headcount from prebuilt dashboards in Workforce Planning. Review your workforce data at a high level, or drill-down to the details to gain a better understanding of key information, such as a comparison of actual versus plan for total headcount or compensation. You can even build customized dashboards to visualize workforce data that is relevant to specific business processes.

By using the workforce planning module in NetSuite Planning and Budgeting, leaders can test drive various business assumptions and better plan for the future by effectively managing one of their largest variable expenses. 

For example, workforce planners tend to spend a lot of time reviewing information for the employees in their departments or cost centers, verifying salaries, specifying employee properties such as full- or part-time and updating compensation assumptions such as bonuses. By default, workforce planning in NetSuite Planning and Budgeting calculates all compensation components for existing employees; now, managers can focus on changes applicable to current employees. 

After managers review and update information on existing employees, they can start to plan for new hires and run the “calculate compensation” business rule for the entire organization to get an updated plan or forecast for total compensation, headcount and FTE.

Watch the product demo to see NetSuite Planning and Budgeting workforce planning capabilities in action.

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.