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Iryna Viter

11 Workforce Planning Tools of the Highest Caliber

There is an abundance of workforce planning tools out there, but which one is the most suitable for your industry? Discover in our roundup.

Managing a global workforce can be a challenge without the right workforce planning tool. Especially if you’re spread across multiple regions, countries, or even continents. And when you’re in the middle of it all, it can be difficult to see and understand the bigger picture.

The key to making better business decisions is to have access to accurate data about human capital and how you allocate it. If you’re not collecting the right information at the right time, you may end up making costly mistakes – like hiring too many employees, or overlooking critical positions, or investing in training that isn't going to make a difference.

Strategic workforce planning tools and techniques can help you collect and analyze data about your workforce over time so that you can make better decisions for your business.

And this is where you should start your search. 

What are workforce tools? 

Workforce tools (or workforce planning software) are programs that help companies determine how to best manage their teams' schedules, including the number of employees they need at each level and how to allocate those employees among projects. or shifts. Companies use these programs to make sure that their work is being done by the right people, and that they can meet all of their goals in a timely manner.

The idea behind workforce planning tools is to take the guesswork out of employee management—to streamline it and optimize it as much as possible. They assist employers in answering questions like "How many people should we have doing tasks on this project/ project milestone?" or "Which client do we want this project manager to work on next?" The software provides the data needed to determine the answers, using established formulas for various scenarios. 

Add to that, workforce tools help organizations develop a workforce plan by taking into account the existing skills, knowledge, and competencies of their workforce. These tools also take into account any future requirements that may arise, as well as any possible risks or opportunities that may have some impact on the workforce. 

In fact, these tools are becoming increasingly important in today's workplace, where companies are constantly under pressure to get more done and meet more deadlines than ever before. They're especially helpful for working with remote teams who don't have managers overseeing them every day. By taking some of the guesswork out, these programs allow companies to operate more efficiently and cut costs wherever possible, which benefits everyone involved.

Why use strategic workforce planning tools

As an insightful piece of HR's toolkit, a workforce planning software can not only become your window into everyone's schedule, but improve your understanding of skill shortages. All in all, there are three benefits you can experience investing in a workforce planning solution.

  • Understand your current workforce situation. Do you have enough employees? Too many? What are their skills? What’s your “people mix” and how does it compare with your competitors?
  • Forecast your future needs. Will you need more employees over time? Or will technology replace some roles? Are there skills gaps that will need to be filled?
  • Plan for skills gaps. Are there skills gaps between what employees have now and what they will need in the future?

So they're helpful diagnostic tools, but they also help business leaders to come up with an organizational strategy that will best deliver on business goals.

In essence, strategic workforce planning can identify what new roles would add the most value to the business, the talent supply for those roles in the labor market, and current high value staff that contribute most to organizational success.

Workforce planning software tools vs manual workforce planning

Even though most organizations have identified their need for a better way to manage workforce planning, many still use spreadsheets and other manual means to complete the task. These methods are often inefficient and ineffective.

Manual methods require substantial human effort and are also prone to error. As we all know, humans make mistakes — they're only human! — and there are lots of opportunities for errors in spreadsheet-based systems that can lead to poor decision making.

Workforce planning is a continuous process that can be made easier and more effective by using the right software. Whether you're at the beginning of your workforce planning journey or you're already well underway, it's impossible to ignore the benefits of software in this area.

Workforce planning software has the ability to automate many tasks that would otherwise require manual input and data entry. Developing a strategic workforce plan manually is time consuming and error-prone, and it can quickly become dated as the business grows and changes. It's often done in spreadsheets, and compared to the automation and engagement provided by dedicated workforce planning tools, excel is considerably less efficient.

For example, tools used for workforce planning make the most important metrics visible, and generate real time reports on demand. Spreadsheets are much less engaging, take longer to update, and ultimately make strategic workforce planning much harder.

There are a range of tools for workforce planning, but which one is best? Learn about some examples of workforce planning tools below.

Best workforce planning tools

1. Runn - The best workforce tool for knowledge workers (freemium available)

workforce planning tools

Runn is one of the best tools used in workforce planning for consulting, agency, and software business. It makes it quick and easy to manage team workloads, understand which roles are most profitable and forecast future needs. With Runn's People Planner, you can compare capacity with confirmed workload and gain visibility into everyone's bookings.

Runn's reports enable planning, tracking and forecasting all in one place. Get automated insight into how well staff are being utilized and assign tasks based on availability. Being able to identify business areas that are at capacity greatly informs strategic workforce planning, providing talent and skills to deliver on business strategies.

Runn is the definition of real-time resource management for the modern workforce — onsite, hybrid, remote, in a different time zone, on a different continent — same difference. You can plan your workforce with ease and fun, while enjoying all the perks automation has to offer. 

Runn is all about expectation matching reality — you know what is going on with your workforce, what’s missing, who needs a break or is overbooked, what team needs reinforcements, who’s on standby, you name it. It’s that all-in tool you need to take full control over your workforce capacity planning for all projects to get delivered on time and within budget. After all, successful projects are always about the right people in the right places and at the right time. 

Getting all of this information in a free workforce planning tool is great value, making Runn a fantastic software for HR professionals.

2. Paymo – best workforce planning tool for thriving small teams

paymo best workforce planning tool

In a remote or hybrid work arrangement, it's only natural to want to cut down on the unnecessary meetings meant to figure out who's available for work. With Paymo's Team Scheduler you'll see at a glance who's under or overbooked.

Simply drag and drop unscheduled work on a visual timeline and adjust the workload as needed. Ghost bookings—basically task time estimates—are generated automatically on the timeline and can be converted into real bookings. Plus, you can signal out-of-office as heads-up for the rest of the team to avoid conflicting schedules.

The People module gives project managers or the HR department an overview of employee data, from legal leaves to timesheets and employee performance. Managers can set days off individually (parental leaves, sick leaves, paid sabbaticals, etc.) or national holidays in bulk for the whole team with just a few clicks. There's also a profitability widget showing hourly rates, internal costs, and margins.

Tip: explore Paymo’s profitability feature to assess whether you’re being smart with your (human) resources or charging your clients the right amount.

3. Bizimply - A game changer in workforce planning for care, retail & hospitality

While the above tools are tailored to fit the needs of the proejct-oriented knowledge economy, Bizimply makes employee scheduling and workforce planning easier for healthcare, retail, and hospitality industries. It is a software solution that helps service businesses become more efficient and profitable by bringing order to people's shifts and schedules. Their all-in-one people management solution enhances the way shift-oriented operators manage their business, optimizing the entire people journey. Bizimply incorporates functionalities such as:

  • Employee scheduling
  • Time and attendance
  • Payroll and shift reporting across multiple locations

4. Quinyx - Workforce management powered by AI

workforce planning software AI

Quinyx's AI technology sets it apart from some other strategic workforce capacity planning tools. It helps those in dynamic industries by being able to identify peak and dull times down to 15-minute periods.

Not only does it deliver accurate business activity forecasts, but it analyzes specific areas of activity to report on optimal labor hours and the number of employees needed in each role to meet demand. This functionality means Quinyx helps with strategic workforce planning in the long term as well as short term rostering.

Quinyx will also help you leave overstaffing and understaffing problems behind  — with its demand forecasting, you can know early on what your required headcount is at the moment or will be like in a little while. 

Finally, if you don’t plan to restructure you teams anytime soon, Quinyx will still be useful if you want to optimize your existing resources and get maximum efficiency with little effort. 

5. Planday by Xero - Best workforce planning tool for retail, leisure & healthcare

workforce planning tools for retail and healthcare

If you're looking for a workforce planning tool that could provide a detailed overview of your employee's schedules, or rather what we call 'shifts,' Planday is an option for you. Recently acquired by an accounting giant Xero, Planday offers a wide range of features to plan your workforce hours and keep track of the big picture. The software helps you build an employee schedule faster by taking into account staff vacation, availability, payroll costs and more. Planday's features include staff management, scheduling, punch clock, reporting and integrate with a variety of tools businesses use on a daily basis.

As one of their clients, Thomas Greenall from Bespoke Hotels, said “Prior to Planday, our HR manager spent about 5 hours weekly on staff scheduling, and with Planday in place he can do it in a few clicks within minutes. I also really appreciate the Punch Clock feature. The staff can simply clock in and out with their smartphone, making life easier for everyone.

And one of the best things of all is that Planday has a free app for all users to be able to access the platform wherever they are and whenever they want. Clocking-in, communicating, and getting to work is just a matter of a few clicks here. 

6. Planful - Best workforce planning tool for dynamic planning

strategic workforce planning tools

Planful enables bespoke strategic workforce planning with data models that are highly customizable. It drives flexible, high-frequency, data-driven planning and decision-making so HR professionals can analyze, plan and make confident decisions at the speed of business. To be specific, the software helps you highlight talent gaps, project people costs, and build an optimized headcount plan that can be adjusted in an instant to match market ups and downs.

Tailored financial models can be set up to make the most relevant functions, processes and use cases visible. It has good testing capabilities, which enables scenario planning by allocating changes and seeing how different situations impact end results across the whole organization.

With its focus on the Finance industry, Planful promises to help you with planning, reporting, and insight generation for better business outcomes. But what takes the cake here is that AI touch that will ease your financial and operational planning and provide better financial visibility. 

But it’s not just about the features your HR and project management teams could enjoy here — the accounting team will have something to play with too. From financial close management and financial reporting to financial consolidation — it is all about each team working efficiently. 

It also integrates well with any source system, and makes it easy to share plans and insights with stakeholders.

7. Workday - Agile workforce planning & analytics software

agile workforce planning tools

Workday brings data on finances, people, and operations into one place that’s always live and secure. This means no more fragmented, incomplete data, which is common with some other workforce planning tools.

In fast-moving workplaces, Workday helps to cut through confusion and silos by enabling users to configure or modify processes without requiring coding. It delivers the insight needed to make strategic workforce planning decisions without the hassle and fuss.

One of the things Workday highlights and promises to deliver is speed. In a world of slow Enterprise Resource Planning, Workday aims to develop something fresh and crisp — an HR, planning, and finance system that operates fast and smart. It is not just about planning your team’s day anymore — it’s about tackling large-scale business challenges that often get unnoticed due to human error, ever-changing market environment, or any other reason. 

Workday has even developed solutions specifically for today's workforces, enabling active consideration of Covid-19 and diversity issues. This makes it one of the most effective workforce planning tools for delivering a future workforce that delivers on strategic imperatives. It is this level of flexibility and ethical approach that truly makes Workday a workforce planning tool of the new world. 

8. tamigo - Best workforce planning and scheduling tool for employee retention

tool for workforce planning

tamigo is a cloud-based workforce planning solution that combines scheduling, absence management, performance, employee communication, HR, finance and forecasting, and more. It focuses on financial drivers and KPIs such as productivity, wage percentage and labour costs to give visibility over staff performance.

tamigo's roster function makes it easy to plan shifts, with the ability to assign shifts based on skills or availability, or even have staff bid for the shifts they want to work. All of this enables HR professionals to identify and nurture high performing team members, leading to progression within the workplace and better retention rates.

You get to manage all of your workforce initiatives within one platform, leaving clunky spreadsheets behind. It’s about that level of control that will help you make sound business decisions and give your employees an environment of clarity, where they know what’s coming tomorrow and what their workload is going to look like in the future. 

Hint: This workforce tool can be of particular value to hospitality businesses that faced non-stop employee retention problems even in the pre-Covid world, not just in the middle of it. 

9. MYOB - Best tool for workforce planning and payroll

MYOB is a well known tool for small-medium businesses that incorporates aspects of workforce planning among other business activities. It's perhaps not as powerful and in-depth as other workforce planning tools, but it's a cost-effective solution in that it comes with payroll and HR functionality as well.

One of MYOB's focuses is ensuring businesses have the right mix of qualifications and labor costs for each shift by automating rostering. It also provides a wide scope of human resources activities such as leave planning, employee development, recruitment, onboarding and reporting.

They help you do the books AND manage people, reduce paperwork and devote more time to doing what truly matters, look professional, and stay compliant. But there’s one important thing to remember: this tool is a great pick if you need a stronger focus on accounting, not people management, because that’s where the tool’s true strengths lie.

Best thing of all — with their Business Lite plan, new businesses get 50% off for 12 months so this might be not just a good choice for the team, but also for the company’s budget. 

10. Employment Hero - Best workforce planning tool for SME's

Employment Hero is one of the best workforce planning tools when it comes to reducing administrative tasks of HR professionals. You get to optimize efficiency and save lots of hours on admin work, sync data, and manage employee scheduling with ease and comfort. 

It uses automated onboarding and induction, election signature, auto-reminders for key events and auto lodging of super and tax details. It's also easy to use from an employee perspective, enabling staff to see and update all of the relevant HR details they need.

However, once again, Employment Hero doesn't have the same long term forecasting capabilities of some other strategic workforce planning tools. So if you’re looking to get insights into your potential recruitment needs there are certainly other low-hanging fruits around. 

11. Timecloud - Best workforce planning tool for construction, fisheries & warehousing

workforce planning software

For organizations that have a lot of people coming and going, workforce management can be much more complicated. Even assessing the size of the current workforce can be hard, with factors such as contractors working on hourly rates and remote, flexible staff. Timecloud is one of the more powerful strategic workforce planning tools in accounting for a wide range of internal and external factors.

It has sophisticated tools such as biometric timeclocks and a mobile app that makes it easier to track timesheets, roster staff, cost jobs and automate payroll. Employment Hero comes with useful organizational charts to break down who people are and what role they're in, which is not always obvious on a large staff roster.

Timecloud is designed to tend to the unique needs of niche businesses that focus on warehousing, construction, fisheries, but also healthcare, hospitality, and engineering. It’s all about the end-user and their needs here. 

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