The best HR leaders aren’t reactive, but proactive. Rather than focus their departments’ time and energies on process, policy enforcement and problem-solving, they look at ways to attract, develop, inspire and retain a world-class workforce.

It should be the role of a workforce management system to support this vision. But a lot of the time, it’s the other way around – organisations see issues like scheduling work and servicing staff members as tactical problems, not strategic ones.

As a result, activities under the workforce management umbrella are undertaken without holistic oversight. HR departments store their employee data in many different spreadsheets, establish ad hoc systems to process expenses and annual leave, and spend reams of their time on administration. The outcome is that they miss opportunities to make the most of their human capital, develop and inspire members of staff, and successfully deliver on their long-term strategic objectives.

Sounds familiar? Here’s how you can turn workforce management into a strategic asset.

Driving impact

A holistic workforce management system like Microsoft Dynamics AX unlocks countless opportunities for the HR function to minimise non-value added work and drive greater business impact:

    • Once is enough. Fragmented workforce management systems are often rife with redundant and unstructured data, making them time-consuming to use, prone to errors and inaccuracies, and potentially insecure. A fully integrated solution makes it possible to skirt these pitfalls and draw substantially more value from your data.
    • Empowering the workforce. Today’s employees want to manage themselves. They don’t want to fill in forms for their managers to pass on to the HR department, or to make phone calls to amend items of data. This functionality can be made self-service, saving time and empowering the workforce.
    • Knowing where you stand. A holistic workforce management system should tell HR leaders everything they need to know about their employees – their skills, their experience, their performance and their availability. And it should help them maintain an effective organisational structure over time, getting an accurate picture of individual staff members’ professional development and their options for the future.

Managing talent

Filling vacant roles is a one of the most important parts of workforce management, and organisations often struggle to balance their budget limitations, the complex process of mapping internal and external candidates against the required competencies and qualifications, and the expectations of the applicant.

This means that potential hires end up slipping through their fingers as a result of long interview cycles and poor communication, and that internal candidates can be left feeling overlooked and undervalued. In order to manage talent more strategically, an organisation should put in place systems that make the recruitment process totally seamless providing a professional representation of the brand and its values, and that provide greater visibility into finances, skills availability and application progress.

As for current employees, it’s all too often the case that workforce planning is a matter of allocating resources month on month rather than supporting their professional development. Your human capital ends up feeling like a means to an end, not an asset you value and intend to develop.

If you’ve got improved data, and therefore an accurate picture of your people, it’s much easier to uncover learning opportunities and create fulfilling career paths for each of your employees.

Inspiring collaboration

In order for the HR function to assume a strategic role in the business, it’s important that it can share its workforce data with the rest of the organisation. The ability to visualise organisational structure and skills availability is useful not only to schedule individuals’ work and plot their career progressions, but also to make wider business decisions.

As such, it’s important that this data and toolset isn’t kept behind lock and key in a HR silo, but is open and accessible – within appropriate parameters for security and privacy – to the entire organisation.

One of the advantages of using Microsoft Dynamics AX for workforce management is its ability to integrate with the rest of the Microsoft stack. So when HR leaders collaborate with other stakeholders on activities like performance reviews, they can use the same set of productivity tools – Excel, SharePoint, Power BI – as everybody else.

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