3 steps for proper workforce planning in businesses

Proper workforce shapes lucrative businesses. Taking care of employees, identifying their personal goals and aligning them with the expectations you have for your business is what constitutes success. Ever pondered on the fact why do so many businesses start, only to fail within a certain timeframe? Why many companies have abysmal employee levels?

Or, let’s dig to the core. Why, according to various statistics, only 25 to 30% of employees feel connected with their business? Or satisfied with their role as a part of the workforce?

The answer lies within bad workforce planning in businesses, spreading its effect on the whole infrastructure of a company. Glancing over that important factor will ensure your employees won’t:

  • Feel connected to what you do: your business objectives (short and long-term), overall mission, day-to-day operations.

  • Feel motivated as a part of the workforce because they don’t receive the appropriate acknowledgement of their efforts and overall performance. As a result, their skills deteriorate and decrease your output and competitive side.

  • Properly help maintain a beneficial team environment, with clear responsibilities for every employee and proper intercommunication between team members.

A failure in workforce planning in businesses, every of these factors can sink your company to the bottom. Let’s see how you can avoid stepping in a workforce planning quicksand.

Step 1: Gauging the environment

Workforce planning in businesses starts with taking a close look at events unfolding on both the macro level of the whole industry and the micro level of your company. Remember: your employees are the backbone of your business, but it is you, the owner, who should lead them. In order for them to know what can they actually do, you need to present them with some objectives. And objectives come after you have gauged the environment properly.

Workforce planning in businesses and the frustration its lack can cause.

Skip on employee frustration by gauging the environment. Image: Ambro, Freedigitalphotos.

There are two types of environment that matter for proper workforce planning in businesses: external and internal.

The external environment is the macro level we spoke of. You’re looking at the big picture here. What are the current challenges, trends, shifts in your industry? What can you see at a local or national level, or at a global one? Depending on the type of your business, the external environment will be different. However, you absolutely need to present your workforce with a coherent, extensive rundown on what the external circumstances surrounding your business are.

The internal environment might be a bit easier for you to gauge, as you’re looking at the inside details of your business. You need a proper assessment of the goals of your company and the business planning you have set in motion. How does your vision tie to the specifics of the external environment? Can you tackle delivering services (or products) on par with the current market trends? In case of any open initiatives or sources (in your country or on a global scale) of funding for your business, which of these can you secure? How does your workforce capability fare if you give it a shot, do you risk overstretching your output potential?

After gauging the two separate types of environment in workforce planning in businesses, you need to place them next to each other. Analyze what “clicks” together, so you have a good basis for moving on to the next step of intelligent workforce planning. That would be…

Step 2: Assessing your actual workforce

Nailing down the true profile of your workforce is the single most important things in workforce planning for businesses. If you underestimate or overestimate your team’s skills and output, you’re putting your projects and clients at risk – and through that, your company too. Assessing the actual potential of your workforce stems from a thorough evaluation of the workforce you have now and the workforce you want to have in the future. The link between these two is what you actually want to achieve with your services or products.

Take a look at your current day workforce, every single team member in your company. What are their current skills? How do they complement each other? What challenges do they face – on an individual plane, or as a team? Is there a new competency that might help them and boost your performance among your competitors? Do they need additional trainings or certifications in order to reach that competency?

Skills matter in workforce planning in businesses.

The skills of your workforce are your company’s future. Nurture them and cultivate them so your team has an edge against the competition.

Then, make an attempt to branch out to the future. What is the profile of your future workforce? What services or products do you plan on dishing out – short-term or long-term? Any significant projects, initiatives or clients you look forward to landing? Think of the external enviroment here too: what is the future of your industry? What will the up-and-coming trends require of your employees? How should your workforce’s skills evolve to meet industry demands – will they devaluate with time and how can you escape that?

There’s a very important factor in workforce planning in businesses: forget about counting the number of your employees. Instead, start counting the valuable skills your team has – and what can you do to cultivate them to meet future market challenges.

Step 3: Closing it all

You have connected both external and internal environment; thrown the bridge between your workforce’s now and its future. In both of these steps, you have found gaps that need to be addressed. Then do so: address them. But do so in a calculated, methodical manner. Ensuring proper workforce planning in businesses means that after you have done your analysis, you prioritize the important things and come up with a plan.

This plan might shape up as being a nightmare, we guarantee that. You need to think of how your company fits in the future of the industry and how every single one of your employees does so too. Plan different scenarios. Theoretize and gauge what steps will take you to the maximum outcome in every single variation. Pinpoint your businesses aspirations and what would it take to turn them into reality. Work closely with your HR department and your team while doing so: you all are a part of the organism of your business.

Workforce planning in businesses comes features a lot of challenges. In a way, it’s very similar to tackling contemporary project management challenges – a topic we’ve covered before. We’re currently working hard on providing you with a Workforce Planning module to help you out on your way to nailing down these 3 steps of managing you workforce. Until then, you can check out Cronforce with a free trial and see the other ways we can improve the output of your team members – and empower your business along with that.

The Cronforce.com Team

Jira Integration Troubleshooting

We noticed that our Jira integration is difficult to get running for some clients. So we have compiled a short list of helpful hints.

When I synchronize my Jira logs zero tasks get synchronized. How do I solve this?

Check first if you have logged time at least once to the issue with the account you use for synchronization. For this you normally use the Log Work function in Jira.

Second, check that you had the Jira issues assigned to the account you try to synchronize with. For example, if you work on issue MYPROJECT-115 ensure it has been assigned to you at least once.

Last but not least ensure you enter your username instead of email when you synchronize with Jira.

And please do not forget – you are always welcome to contact us at support@cronforce.com if you need any help.

The Cronforce.com Team

3 hot trends that will shape project and business management in 2016

Compared with some other industries, project management – and any type of business management affair, really, seem a bit static. Don’t be fooled by the surface of things, though. At the beginning of every new year, a clock starts ticking. It sounds the alarm of new trends and things business owners and project managers alike should bear in mind.

As you can guess, 2016 is no exception. Over 2015 we saw the continuation of some trends (rich 3rd party integration to streamline operations even better) and we reacted accordingly. That’s why you see Cronforce adjusting to the industry’s finest with a portfolio of integrations that will ease your daily tasks immensely.

But what about 2016? What should you be on the lookout for when managing your business or projects?

Hot trend #1 to look out for: Remote teams

We’ve already talked in length about the flexible schedule business movement and why it’s actually pretty beneficial. Remote teams are a vital part of this process. In fact, we can safely say that the future for businesses of any size and kind slides towards everything going remote.

You can see that already with hundreds of apps and pieces of software to bring mobile teams together. Cronforce was built like that from the ground up too, because we ourselves are scattered across countries and continents. Remote teams are slowly becoming the norm, with market analyzers predicting that as much as 40% of the US workforce will be decentralized and follow the route of freelancing.

This trend, however, is not limited to US businesses only. The very nature of project management, enterprise management and business affairs is moving towards an all-remote paradigm. Contractors, freelancers and other type of temporary, per-project employees will construct the new working environment.

Business management and remote workers.

Image: RemoteNation.co

In such a situation, any project manager would need an efficient way to consolidate and properly manage these scattered team members. Remote teams reportedly have a greater output and increased motivation levels, plus efficiency per hour worked. At the same time, there are inherent risks for miscommunication that might lead to decreased productivity. With remote teams, the need for even better project management and business management will arise.

Forget about painful, hour-long meetings that need to be conducted face-to-face. A combination of Cronforce with GoogleApps, Trello, Basecamp or Asana will be the way to go. However, that will require a more intelligent approach to business management.

Hot trend #2 to look out for: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

2015 was crazy for the BYOD trend. The smartphone and tablet rise the tech industry saw was just a hint at what’s shaping up in the near future. If you feel great about the mobile generation sweeping in more sales for your business, you’ve only seen the start of it all. Same applies for project managers who enjoy the flexible, fast-paced way of overseeing how their team works on the project at hand.

If you’re unsure of what BYOD exactly is, here’s a short definition: the trend of enterprises letting their employees use their own device for any work purposes. Most of the time, we’re talking about smartphones or tablets here, though laptops are a honorable mention too.

BYOD will shape the new face of project management and business management as much as the remote revolution we discussed beforehand. Some IT specialists such as New Horizons mention that project management will undergo some “new generation” challenges due to the BYOD trends.

BYOD in project management

A notable one is the inclination towards help desk ticketing solutions integrated in the project management software businesses already use. BYOD makes any type of technical support a little more complex and demanding in comparison with its previous form. We might see a wide number of new processes and requirements towards project managers emerging. The rising importance of help desk software for proper business management is just one of them.

Which leads us to…

Hot trend #3 to look out for: the new age of project managers

Trend #1 and #2 should have clearly shown what the future for project and business management is: diversification. The business industry is getting more fragmented, more fast-paced, more demanding. Managing any enterprise – and its teams and project, is not only a matter of hard-set requirements any more. Project managers need to be constantly on the look for polishing their skills and updating them.

The hard truth for 2016 is this: you might be the most punctual and hardworking project manager out there. But if you can’t keep with the needed tech (the whole swarm of software, apps and integrations) or new working environment (remote teams, decentralized communication model), you’ll be at a disadvantage.

We might think of the new age of project managers as something that already happened in the IT niche. That’s right: certifications. Any IT specialist you ask will tell you that the certifications they earned were a requirement set by any company looking to hire them. With the current trends looming over the project and business management niche, any professional should look towards landing a few certifications.

The good news here?

More and more enterprises – especially the rising number of SMEs and startups, realize that any proper business management is linked with a project manager pro. Project manager positions are increasing and will continue to be a lucrative field to get into. Sure, the barrier to entry has just become a bit higher. However, as a project manager, you’ll deal with:

  • Hectic team management and the need to assess every team member’s skills and personality.

  • Tight budgeting where financial rules might be changed at any second.

  • Stern requirements set by company owners or even worse – shareholders.

  • Difficult communication with demanding clients.

  • Deadlines and timelines that might fluctuate unexpectedly and call for quick yet mature way of adapting.

Project and business management challenges.

So we can safely say that a bit of a rough start is a good way for you to warm up and see whether you’re actually up to the challenge.

As we’re insiders to the business management industry, we understand your worries and pains. Cronforce is both easy to use and offers you the variety of features and integrations you can use to be a cut above the rest. What do you say about a) improving your team management skills, b) setting important bits of how any business operates and c) hitting all the right project management spots? Try Cronforce out for free and you might just do that.

The Cronforce.com Team

3 Mistakes Small Business Owners Make When It Comes To Project Cost Management

Ah, project cost management. One of the most dreaded things for business owners alike, no matter their location or the size of their business. Nobody likes costs. Nobody likes gauging costs either.

Yet you have no choice than track them (or at least try your best to do so), if you want to have your business operating as intended. Otherwise, you risk a soon-to-be sinking ship scenario.

With that said, a lot of people underestimate tracking their costs and setting a steady schedule to calculate and implement an extensive, properly formulated project cost management strategy. A huge case in mind are the numerous startups that come with the era of digitalization we live in. Mostly tech-related, they consist of amazing web developers or designers… who sadly lack the perspective of calculating and tracking their costs.

It might be a bit harsh, but the startup and small business scenes are really full of people who are careless of their budgeting. Yet when they fail, they blame it on something else. We’ve seen such cases and as you might guess, this was a motivation to include a project cost management tool in Cronforce.

But where are the pitfalls when it comes to project management – and the costs contained therein?

You Think “Costs” Is a Monolithic Term

Far too many people seem to think that costs are just costs, making no distinction between different types of expenses. Of course, there’s a great variety here: some small businesses or medium-size companies extensively rely on a specific type of costs, yet are low on other expenditures of another type.

getting worried

What’s guaranteed is that you have overhead costs. These are the expenses that have to deal with advertising, rent, taxes, bills (electricity, phone), various utilities, fees (insurance, legal, accounting and other services). Like it or not, you’ll have some of these. This holds true especially for brick-and-mortar businesses tending to accumulate a lot of overhead due to building expenses (mainly rent). Cloud-based startups and Software as a Service (SaaS) ventures at least have it a bit lighter here, though web-based overheads can be cruel too.

Along with overheads, you’ll have various direct costs, fixed costs or variable costs. For example, direct costs are related to your actual product – when you sell it, what are the expenses it involves? Perhaps the shipping? No sale means no expenses in the case of direct costs. That doesn’t mean that you can get lighter on your overall project cost management practices, though.

The most important thing here is to start having an “all costs are not the same” mindset. Gauge your business and identify what type of costs you rely most on.

You Don’t Calculate Your Costs Properly

Feeling guilty as charged a bit? Don’t worry – lots of companies (especially small businesses) seem to mess up their expense management. After all, that’s why business consultants and project cost management tools and software exist.

However, a great chunk of companies don’t even identify that problem in order to seek a solution to repair the faulty financial pipeline at hand.

Before even starting a project, you should calculate all your costs immediately. What is, for example, your overhead cost per hour? What are the overhead costs related to various departments (if you have them, of course)? How much is your revenue and how are you currently allocating it? Who needs it the most? Have you actually set your product’s/service’s price to guarantee some juicy profits despite your overhead costs’ level?

office night frustration

Approach your business’ expenditures in a smart manner and from various viewpoints so as to gauge the financial situation to the optimum.

You Don’t Keep a Regular Track on Your Costs

Doing business is an extremely intensive thing to take part in. Variables are a constant here. Markets change, competitors come and go, customers’ preferences shift like crazy. What was once a fixed cost scenario can easily get shaky and need some tweaking. All of this especially holds true for eCommerce and tech-related small businesses/startups.

That’s why you need to always be in touch with what’s happening to your costs and all variables surrounding them. Not to mention that it’s about discipline – if you skip a week or two, it’s easier to fall into a downward spiral and ditch it for a long time. And then at the end of the year you’re left wondering what the hell happened and why your initial financial forecast didn’t turn out as planned.

Tweak your costs. Play around with your overheads. Be a dynamic swimmer, not a lethargic floater.

Project Cost Management Made Easy

Keeping a small business or even a medium-size company is a daunting task. It’s so demanding and requires of you to juggle so many things at once that sometimes the costs switch in your head might just shut down. We’re all human, after all.

That’s why we came up with a project cost management tool that you can utilize to become a flexible, functional and all-around efficient software sidekick of yours. What’s in the bag? Well, we:

  • Make it easier for you to set up budgets and rates
  • By providing you with a transparent, simple way to track your costs
  • In real time, on the go
  • With plenty convenient integrations with services such as QuickBooks or Paychex

What do you say about giving it a try for free and getting those costs settled once and for all? We reinvent project cost management tools. You draw the benefits.

Announcing email notifications for late submissions and approvals

We are glad to announce a new and exciting addition to our Timesheets module. From now on employees will receive an email notification if a timesheet was not created or submitted. In addition, approvers will get a reminder when timesheets are pending approval. This new addition will save valuable time to supervisors and managers. Enjoy time tracking!

You are welcome to contact us any time with suggestions and questions – just write us a comment to this post or send an email.

About Cronforce

Cronforce is a leading provider of cloud-based Business Execution Software, and delivers time tracking, vacations management, budget controlling and workforce planning solutions for organizations of all sizes. A one of a kind fusion of dashboards and business tools it provides you and your clients with real-time overview and reports on business and project developments. Cronforce facilitates day-to-day business and enables managers to make data-driven decisions and increase efficiency. With Cronforce you can access your data easily, anywhere and any time! Cronforce is free to test and use (check our free and paid plans). 

The Cronforce.com Team