Strategic Workforce Planning is a process to develop a vision of, and a set of coordinated workforce initiatives to achieve, an organisation's ideal future workforce. That ideal future workforce will be the one best positioned to deliver the organisation's strategy, while being agile enough to respond to a changing environment.

In a landcape of changing Labour Market Dynamics, skills shortages, automation, organisational requirements, it is critically important that inputs into the Strategic Workforce Planning process are more than just internal data.  After all, the data we have is about the past, but the decisions we make are about the future.  Part of what differentiates Strategic Workforce Planning from Operational Workforce Planning is incorporation of external and forward-looking inputs.

Although most organisations have a long-term financial plan, investment plan, asset management plan, and marketing plan; most organizations today have no strategic plans for their future workforce.  Strategic Workforce Planning is often defined to as having the Right People in the Right Place at the Right Time – and although this definition is catchy, it’s also incomplete - Strategic Workforce Planning also allows the coordination of Workforce Initiatives across the employee lifecycle to attract, select, motivate, develop, and retain the ideal future workforce.

By utilising truly Strategic Workforce Planning, organisations are able to build the workforce that is most likely to lead them to strategic success.  This is achieved by identifying, understanding, and positioning for changing internal and external conditions that may influence the type of work that the organisation does, and the type of workforce it will require to do that work.  Both organisational strategy and a range of plausible future scenarios are taken into account, to ensure the Strategic Workforce Plan is robust.  Strategic Workforce Planning ensures that workforce initiatives and practices are evidence-based, fit for purpose, and targeted to where they are likely to deliver the highest strategic return on investment.