It’s clear from the conference this week that the two schools of workforce planning are definitely diverging…

  1. Operational workforce planning, focused on metrics, reporting and forecasting
  2. Strategic workforce planning, focused on developing a measurable talent strategy

Sure, they aren’t mutually exclusive, but they are definitely distinct…so I thought it would be a good idea to remind ourselves what the difference between them are.  Besides a pretty good answer over there on WikiAnswers, we have a paper that uses this table to describe the differences between the two.  What do you think?





Accurately forecast hiring and/or training needs

Develop the best talent strategies for longer term success

Timeline/Planning Horizon

Usually 12 months with a quarterly focus – matches the yearly business plan

Usually 3 years or longer – matches the organizational strategic plan

Integrated with

Annual or quarterly financial/budgeting process

Strategic planning process


Mostly internal data, some management decisions

Wide range of internal and external information including demographics, business strategies, global trends, etc


Staffing plans, skill gaps

Human Resource/People Strategies

Scenario Planning Approach

Uses variables to explore different models of staffing

Uses futuring techniques to question current paradigms and explore alternative futures not necessarily based on today’s approach


Key focus

Only part of the process – forecasting is too limited in terms of timeline and scope to be the core of the process

Segmentation Focus

Internal demand

Internal and external, demand and supply are all segmented


Competencies may be audited or gathered at an individual level

Strategic Capabilities analyzed and gathered at the group level

Performed by

HR or staffing organization with input from the business

Business, facilitated by HR


Operational Management – Line and BU Managers

Strategic Management – Executive and Board

Aligns to

Business Plan

Strategic Plan

Terms used

“Predict”, “Calculate”

“Explore”, “Design”