Keeping track of headcount

Economy | Tue 3 Mar | Author – Business & Finance

Ian Stone outlines how to keep your company afloat in spite of shifting staff.

Grant Thornton’s latest International Business report (IBR) highlights that Irish businesses are the most optimistic for growth in Europe. Off the back of strong recent economic growth, the job market is booming, particularly in banking and financial services, where the number of roles increased 41% year-on-year in Q4 2014.

In January this year, news agency Reuters reported that professionals moving to these new jobs in 2014 boosted salaries by an average of 18% and as soon as news gets around, you can be sure recruiters will see an increase in the number of people banging at their doors. It is not just market makers and traders who are in demand. There are plenty of openings for those who work in back office positions too. Increasing regulation in all parts of the market has put compliance professionals at the top of the hiring agenda, closely followed by IT executives, especially those with experience of leading business transformation projects.

Like the ‘curate’s egg’, this is both good and bad news for financial services companies. On one hand, it is always good to be ramping up on resources to address the needs of a rising market; on the other hand, some of their best people will inevitably be among those making career moves. If a single member of a large back office department suddenly leaves, a company can cover their workload by offering extra hours to the rest of the team or hiring temporary staff. Both of these options will have some impact on operating expenses.

However, if someone in a key position suddenly takes off without warning, it is a much more serious matter, particularly if the company is temporarily unable to execute putting significant revenue streams at risk.

Succession planning and human capital management can mitigate some of these issues, but to prevent the sudden surprises that anger boards and their investors, companies should also review their planning and budgeting processes. Agility and insight are important capabilities for managing during times of uncertainty and fortunately, you can build them into your planning processes. As a first step, you should examine your use of spreadsheets. They are laborious to use, prone to errors and have none of the immediacy of a modern, real time, planning solution.

At the same time, there are considerable benefits from building dynamic planning models that link key individuals and their activity directly with the revenue streams which they are responsible for generating. Similarly, modeling the workload and productivity of support functions can identify headcount requirements and their cost.

Update any piece of data in such a dynamic model and the results will ripple right through to the profit and loss account, giving better visibility into future and a deeper understanding of the causality behind the numbers. None of this is new; you may already be doing it. However, if it is on disparate spreadsheets, you will never enjoy the benefits others gain when they turn it into a unified process in a single solution.

The Irish economy is poised with fantastic growth prospects on the horizon, but with this comes the caveat of greater turbulence in the jobs market as valuable employees look to take advantage of the new wealth of lucrative opportunities available. Organisations must be ready for this, and have the right processes and procedures in place to mitigate against these fluctuations.

Ian StoneIan Stone is the managing director for the UK and Ireland at Anaplan. Stone’s role includes responsibility for sales, pre-sales, marketing, consulting, support and operations, while day-to-day he aims to ensure that Anaplan’s customer focus is driven throughout his region.

Prior to joining Anaplan, Stone held positions with Business Objects and Cognos before going on to found Vue Analytics – a reseller dedicated to bringing the Anaplan platform to the UK market. Following a successful launch Anaplan acquired Vue Analytics and in 2013, he was appointed to his current role in the organisation.

Stone has over 15 years’ experience working in the Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and is widely considered an expert in the application of EPM across the sales function.