The New Age of Headcount Planning

By James Wilby, Senior Manager, Keyrus

Any organization that interfaces with its customers on a high-volume and frequent basis must have a reliable way to forecast its activities, plan the associated workforce, and avoid periods with extended backlogs. Oftentimes, the easiest and most cost-effective way to do all this is to use a series of local Excel worksheets. However, this can lead to some serious headaches when organizations need to scale. There is nothing more frustrating than managing multiple versions of the same headcount plan and trying to constantly remember which one should be used for your weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings. Too many of us have faced planning errors and inaccuracies due to planning in static and manually maintained workbooks. Fortunately, there is an easier and more reliable way to plan your headcount. We like to call this new age of headcount planning, “Connected Planning,” which often takes place in a shared cloud or shared company server.

Connected Planning Basics

The idea of “Connected Planning” is where all workforce planners across an organization (e.g., front and back office) can “submit” their activity forecast and headcount plans to the same location for all planners and plan leads to access. Planning supervisors and management are able to see all of their teams’ aggregated staffing status’ in a single place. This allows for quick identification of where resources can be shared across teams to reduce both overstaffed and understaffed individual teams. A connected space allows for simplified version control and a company-wide audit log to track any changes over time to plans. Most organizations will also allow their finance counterparts, training teams, and talent acquisition resources to access the connected space in order to be self-sufficient when it comes to understanding hiring plans, attrition forecasts, and cost implications.

Real-Life Example

A client of ours had the task of managing 800 excel spreadsheets to forecast over a million customer interactions a day and plan the headcount for their front and back-office operations. To generate any type of management, hiring, or finance reports, they would manually aggregate all 800 spreadsheets into a master worksheet which would show if they were over- or understaffed for the weeks to come. Fortunately, in February 2021, the company decided to try out this connected planning idea and began migrating the spreadsheets into a shared, cloud-based solution. In their connected planning space, our client can now keep track of all its plans with multiple versions, and aggregate their key metrics (shrinkage, occupancy, AHT, ASA, SLAs, CSATs, etc.) in real-time, up their company hierarchy. As one planning lead put it, “My weekly headcount planning now takes me 35 minutes tops across all my groups, instead of 6+ hours.”

Closing Comments

We hope this article has introduced you to the possibilities of connected planning and the benefits it can offer for managing your headcount. As you assess the need for a cloud-based, connected planning solution, please consider these questions:

  • Do I share a planning hierarchy across the organization (Front v Back office. Onshore v Offshore)?
  • Am I able to aggregate weighted handle times across teams and activities in real-time?
  • Is it laborious to actualize the activities, HC, transfers, and productivity metrics in my planning?
  • If finance or talent acquisition asks for my forecasted staffing position, can I quickly send them what they need with little explanation?

James Wilby is a Senior Manager at Keyrus Consulting Group. He has focused on implementing enterprise Planning Solutions specifically in the areas of Contact/Service Center Planning and can be reached at

Keyrus is a global consultancy that develops data and digital solutions for performance management. Combining business and technical expertise, we help companies like yours uncover the most value possible from data while optimizing digital strategy and customer experience. For more information, go to our website at