With so many different workforce planning software solutions available, figuring out which is right for you is tough. You know you want to aid in forecasting labor requirements, aligning workforce allocation with business goals, and identifying skill gaps, but need to figure out which tool is best. In this post, I'll help make your choice easy, sharing my personal experiences using dozens of different workforce planning tools with teams of all sizes, with my picks of the best workforce planning software overall.
What is Workforce Planning Software?
Workforce planning software is a tool designed to help organizations strategically manage their human resources. It facilitates the analysis, forecasting, and planning of workforce requirements to align with business objectives. This software assists in identifying current and future staffing needs, skill gaps, and labor trends.
Its purpose is to enable effective planning for recruitment, training, and development, ensuring the right number of employees with the necessary skills are available when needed. By providing data-driven insights, workforce planning software supports informed decision-making, helping businesses optimize their workforce, reduce costs, and prepare for future challenges and growth.
Deel is an impressive HR tool that makes it easy for teams looking to streamline their workforce planning processes. One of Deel’s standout features is its ability to support a complete view of the entire workforce, including both employees and contractors, no matter where in the world they’re located. Having this single source of truth gives teams a current and complete picture of their workforce without having to compile data from various sources.
Employees can use Deel's clean interface to generate reports, view time off requests, and manage other important aspects of workforce planning. Deel's advanced payroll capabilities and global coverage for benefits administration are also valuable tools for executive teams looking to manage their HR needs more effectively. There’s also comprehensive reporting and analytics, allowing you to make informed decisions quickly about your entire workforce. These features help you consolidate administrative costs and ensure your workforce is managed in the most efficient and effective way.
Deel is highly integrated, allowing you to streamline your HR processes and automate or sync data across your HR tech stack. Deel offers integrations with common tools like Ashby, BambooHR, Expensify, Greenhouse, Hibob, Netsuite, Okta, OneLogin, Quickbooks, SCIM, Xero, Workday, and Workable, and has an API for connecting to tools beyond their pre-built integrations.
Deel offers flat rate pricing details upon request, as well as a free demo.
ADP Workforce Now is an all-in-one HR platform that covers payroll, talent management, benefits administration, workforce management, and analytics that support better data-driven workforce planning. Their well-rounded set of features and longstanding reputation makes them a solid choice for businesses seeking to consolidate their HR processes into a single platform.
ADP Workforce Now's workforce planning abilities lie within its powerful reporting and analytics capabilities. You can use their platform to monitor key metrics across your workforce, including your headcount, turnover rate, and staff utilization. To simplify this process, you can use their Report Builder tool to create a custom report that includes only the details you're interested in, and easily share it with your key stakeholders.
To help you make better data-driven decisions, ADP Workforce Now also leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to help you access insights from your workforce data, compare your data to industry benchmarks, and back up your decisions.
Integrations include QuickBooks, Wave, Xero, Microsoft Teams, Slack, OrgChart Now, OurPeople, HiBob, and Built for Teams, Aloha, Upserve, Clover, Micros, PosiTouch, Revel, and Toast.
Agentnoon is a workforce planning and org design software that helps you visualize all your people data in one place. It can be used for day-to-day operational efficiency, or to tackle changes like reorganization, cost restructuring, spinoffs/share services, mergers and acquisitions, and operating model development.
Agentnoon lets you design workplace graphics and charts ranging from org charts, hierarchy structure and distribution, manager-to-employee ratios, headcount growth/distribution, planned vs. actual headcount, and headcount costs. You can also Upload spreadsheets, overlay custom data, and a tiered review process for HR, Finance, and CEO.
Integrations include over 100 HRIS and other systems, for example BambooHR, ADP Workforce Now, bob (hibob), Gusto, Justworks, Insperity, Namely, BambooHR, BizMerlinHR, Breezy HR, CATS, Clockwork, Comeet, Lattice, Culture Amp, Google Sheet, Excel.
Agentnoon costs from $199/seat/month and offers a 30-day free trial.
Runn allows for navigation of planning, tracking and forecasting work projects and allows for in-depth capacity management.
Runn can help you catch resource bottlenecks and see if someone is overbooked, and transfer their shifts to another staff member. You can check a number of what-if scenarios to see the impacts of project delays and how it can impact capacity.
Runn has a Full REST API that allows you to integrate Runn with any service (this requires a bit of technical work). It integrates with employee time tracking tools like Clockify and Harvest, along with tools like Salesforce, Slack, WorkflowMax and more.
Runn costs $10/person managed, per month, and has special discounts for Ukraine, low to middle income countries, and nonprofits. Runn offers a 14-day free trial with no credit card necessary.
Using a system they call “connected planning,” Anaplan focuses on real-time collaborations across all business functions. Anaplan makes use of hyperscale computing to make more accurate forecasts.
The software allows you to narrow down choices for the best candidate available within a company based on attributes like time in role, years of experience, and skills. With its compensation modeling, Anaplan gives you a framework to work on retention with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Anaplan Strategic HR Planning integrates with other software such as Boomi, DocuSign, Salesforce, OneCloud, and more.
Analan Strategic HR Planning offers customized pricing on request. It does not offer a free trial, but a free demo is available.
ActivTrak focuses more on employee productivity compared to other workforce planning software. It can help you track aspects like the impact of remote and hybrid models to see the differences in work productivity and well-being.
ActivTrak helps unlock productivity potential with its dashboards on productivity indicators and work habits. It allows you to see how applications are used to help determine whether you should continue using them, or remove them.
ActivTrak integrates with Salesforce, Google Workspace, Zendesk, Slack, Monday, Jira, Workday, ADP and more.
ActivTrak costs $10/person/month. It offers a free trial with no credit card required.
Lightcast.io, previously known as Emsi Burning Glass, is a labor market analytics company created to facilitate the needs of corporate and staffing firms when it comes to understanding employment, economic trends, and training requirements across different locations. It offers robust skills taxonomy, comprehensive reports, and insights for executive talent meetings, as well as blue-collar worker representation.
Lightcast also offers access to global data to help organizations power their existing workforce planning process, providing the vital information required to find the right talent, train an entire workforce, and plan better talent strategy in a dynamic labor market.
With Lightcast, you can leverage actionable skills data to help drive your talent acquisition strategies, respond or adapt to growing skills trends, and develop robust learning and development programs. A workforce consulting service is also available to help optimize your existing workforce planning process using targeted recommendations, personalized analysis, and custom data sets.
Lightcast also offers a data API to give businesses and staffing firms direct access to the various datasets that are driving their software solutions. With the Lightcast API, users can build their custom data applications and displays for the entire organization.
Lightcast has a SaaS-based licensing model offered in standalone and packaged modules, or base price depending on the use case. Submit a request for pricing.
Planday focuses on employee scheduling to handle vacations, availability, payroll, and more. You can set up compliance warnings to warn you when staff have been assigned too many hours, or shifts too close together.
Planday allows you to use all current payroll information (working hours, vacation time, overtime) to forecast your payroll costs.
Planday has a number of API integrations, such as ADP and Quickbooks.
Planday offers customized pricing on request, and a 30-day free trial.
Vean contains a number of pre-built workflows to allow for dynamic modeling in regards to changes to payroll and labor cost. Vena also allows for a number of workflows to control user access to sensitive data.
Vena offers a number of Excel templates for anything from labor expense planning, to tracking upcoming hires. Vena includes pre-built logic to help calculate benefits, whether in America, Canada, or the UK.
Vena integrates with most HRIS and payroll systems such as ADP, Workday, Bamboo, and Peoplesoft and enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) such as NetSuite and Sage Intacct.
Vena Solutions offers customized pricing on request, and a 7-day free trial.
Visier Now allows you to identify where employees can move to with their given skillset and if they would be the right fit for the position. The software makes use of Guided Diversity Planning to help set goals for your organizations diversity initiatives.
Visier Now uses AI-enhanced analytics to help determine who is most at risk of leaving your organization, and why. This software allows you to see the impact your engagement initiatives (such as better compensation or policy changes) have on overall employee turnover.
Visier Now integrates with the most common human capital management (HCM) and applicant tracking system (ATS) platforms.
Visier Now offers customized pricing on request. It does not offer a free trial.
Other Workforce Planning Options
Here are a few more worthwhile options that didn’t make the best workforce planning software list. I didn't have room for a full review for each of these but they are still worthy of consideration:
Workday Adaptive Planning
Enterprise-grade agile workforce planning software.
Scalable workforce planning software with platform-wide data confidentiality
Centralized workplace planning platform
Simplified drag-and-drop workforce planning tool
All-in-one platform to align business needs with workforce planning analytics
Workforce planning software with shift scheduling, time tracking, and GPS location tracking
Workforce planning software to set employee goals and track progress toward those goals over time
Best for an all-in-one work management solution
Enterprise-level workforce planning suite
Resource management in Salesforce for staffing your projects
Selection Criteria for Workforce Planning Software
Wondering how I vetted each tool for this list of the best workforce planning software? I'm happy to explain my process to you.
I started out by reviewing recent market size data for workforce planning tools to give me a baseline for the biggest software players in this space. This was surprisingly hard to find since it seems many outlets confuse workforce planning tools with workforce management systems, though the two are not the same! (More on that below.)
After gaining my baseline knowledge, I began the process of systematically reviewing each planning tool to grasp the depth of its features and how they work. Below is a summary of the key features and other aspects I looked for.
Key Features for Workforce Planning Software
In regards to key features of workplace planning software, here are three key features that will provide your organization great benefits.
- Modeling What-If Scenarios: Workplace planning software can offer some quick adjustments to test a number of what-if scenarios and see what future impact they may have on your organizational chart and your bottom line.
- Identifying gaps and opportunities: Workplace planning software will help you identify where you currently are, and the steps required to get where you want to go.
- Integrations: Workforce planning software can pull data from a number of sources through APIs, eliminating the pain of trying to import and export data manually.
Essential User Experience Features
No matter what type of software I'm reviewing, I always spend time reviewing the user experience (UX) features of the software to get a sense of how user-friendly the tools are. Here are the main UX features I considered to create this list:
User Interface (UI)
It's very easy for workforce planning software to be convoluted and difficult to use. I look for software that allows you to create high-level dashboards with ease, and quickly dig through the many data layers at your disposal.
The last thing I want you to do is spend a large portion of time learning yet another software solution. The software featured in this article is focused on usability to allow you to spend less time learning the software, and more time making use of it.
I selected workforce planning solutions that integrate with a number of common software applications. This is important because integrations will reduce manual data entry and remove the likelihood of introducing human error.
Your employee data will be spread out across a number of sources, so you'll want workforce planning software that can pull from these data sources. Key integrations to note include:
- Employee management systems (e.g., HRIS, HCM, HRMS)
- People analytics platforms
- Talent management systems
- Workforce management solutions, including scheduling tools
- Employee time and attendance tracking systems
- Payroll software
What is workforce planning?
Workforce planning is a strategic process that companies use to align their workers with their business goals and objectives. It involves a forward-thinking approach aimed at developing strategies to ensure you have the right people in the right roles at the right times. To do that, organizations must analyze and forecast their future workforce needs in terms of the quantity of employees and their specific skills and capabilities for key roles.
If you’d like to learn more, take a look at our comprehensive overview of workforce planning, including the key benefits and a 5-step process you can follow to ensure you get it right.
Why is workforce planning important?
Workforce planning is crucial to ensuring the longevity of your company. Just like, as an individual, it’s important to plan for your eventual retirement, as a company, it’s important to plan for your company’s evolution in leadership turnover too.
If you need more details to convince you, here are several key benefits of workforce planning:
- Improved alignment between your employees and your business goals
- Improved decision-making
- Enhanced productivity and performance
- More effective long-term talent management
- Cost optimization
- Enhanced agility and adaptability
For more details on each of these points, hop over to our complete guide to workforce planning.
What's the difference between workforce planning and workforce management?
Some like to use the terms “workforce planning” and “workforce management” interchangeably, but they refer to different things. Here’s a brief summary of the difference between these two popular terms:
Workforce management covers the following:
- Having the right people for the right roles.
- Aspects that fall under workforce management would be time tracking, employee scheduling, and payroll.
- The focus is on the current state of your workforce today.
Workplace planning, on the other hand, covers the following:
- Identifying the goals of the organization and aligning them with employees.
- Identifying the steps required to prepare for future staffing needs and strategic workforce planning.
- The focus is on the state of your workforce in the future.
For a more thorough explanation, check out the following article.
Other Resources to Optimize Your Strategic Planning
As you can see, workforce planning is heavily rooted in strategy. If you're looking for other types of software to assist with your strategic planning, these other lists are also worth a quick look:
Note that while there is some overlap between workforce planning and succession planning, they are not the same. Check out our article explaining what succession planning is for a more detailed breakdown.
What Do You Think About This List?
These are just a few of the many excellent workforce planning tools on the market. Whether you’re a small business, or a large enterprise, there are a number available at your fingertips to help you deal with the difficult task of workforce planning.
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