Don’t you hate it when you can’t find your magic crystal ball to tell HR how many resources you’ll need crystal-ball-resourcingnext year? As the new year gets underway, you have a clearer sense of what your priorities are, their timing and the subsequent resources you will need. In the meantime, you spend a quarter or two tap dancing to keep your new hires engaged by finding them additional onboarding and shadowing opportunities. You hope to buy enough time until they can be productive in the new schedule or to figure out how to re-direct or train them as the roles you thought you needed have since changed. Subsequently, you feel incredibly stretched because you’re still plugging holes for the needs not yet met and are at risk of missing deadlines. You’d love to open new requisitions for where you need the help; unfortunately, you’ve already burned through your budgeted resources. Planning your resources before your annual and first quarter planning feels like putting the cart before the horse.

In a recent client annual planning session, the original intent was to go round-robin to each member of the executive team and validate everyone’s resource plan to HR. However, we found our crystal ball (the annual plan) and tried a new approach to right the horse, bless his heart. Rather than go down the engineering, QA, finance, and IT lists, we discussed as a team this year’s key initiatives and the four quarter fly over plan, or bird’s eye view of what each quarter looks like to get it all done. By doing so, the executive team was able to:

  • Discuss each initiative and assign existing resources to each one,
  • Consult Rhythm’s EnergyMap® to ensure they weren’t spreading any one resource too thinly,
  • Decide to move up starting the execution of a Winning Move a quarter early and, therefore, determine additional headcount needed to do so, and
  • Discuss areas where it was critical to use internal resource and areas where they agreed to sub-contract.

The client, like you, had to submit their numbers last year; and therefore, still had to work within the parameters of total headcount budgeted. However, validating headcount by key initiatives gave them a way to creatively stay within budget. They decided to increase headcount in QA in order to keep simultaneous projects in flight without compromising quality, giving up some engineering headcount and sub-contracting an IT role.

Stop tap dancing around your resources and figure out what you’ll truly need this year.

Do you have an annual plan but aren’t sure if you have the right number or mix of resources? Pull together your counterparts and discuss your four quarter flyover to align them with your resources.

Don’t have a plan? I’m sure your crystal ball’s got to be around here somewhere. 


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Liz McBride


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