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Strategic HR Plan Components and Timeline: Deep Dive.

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A Strategic HR Plan is a detailed blueprint involving the development and execution of initiatives that align the workforce with an organization's goals. It helps emphasize proactive culture and talent management, ensuring optimal efficiency and adaptability in a rapidly changing business environment by dynamically crafting people-centric strategies.

The Strategic HR plan encompasses both a process and a tool essential for organizing and maximizing talent and staying competitive. It outlines an organization’s comprehensive approach to strategic human capital management, detailing how it intends to achieve its HR goals. The plan typically focuses on the immediate to medium-term, covering the planning and execution of the identified strategies.

The terms "Strategic HR Plan", “Strategic HR Roadmap”, and "HR Strategic Plan" are often used interchangeably. Still, they represent constructs with slightly different focuses depending on the context in which they're used.

The Strategic HR Plan is derived from and helps action the full spectrum of strategic HR management. It emphasizes all strategic HR functions and engagement with the business as a plan that aligns the HR management goals with the organization's overall strategic objectives. It involves defining proactive HR policies and activities that support or drive strategic business aims, like talent acquisition and development strategies that enable an organization to meet its future staffing needs, or initiatives to create a company culture that fosters innovation. Consequently, it represents a highly unique and tailored approach and document for each organization.

A Strategic HR Roadmap is a higher-level document that provides clear visualization of prioritized strategic HR initiatives over different time horizons, showcasing the sequence and interrelation of these initiatives. It includes major HR initiatives and shows their progression and interdependencies without diving deep into the specifics of each. The roadmap typically spans short, medium, and long-term timeframes, giving a bird's eye view of the journey ahead in strategic HR planning. It is a dynamic tool, often revisited and revised as circumstances change, progress is assessed, and the business environment evolves.

Wowledge provides an intelligent strategic HR roadmap generator —freely available to all members— that creates a dynamic roadmap for organizations based on a variety of customizable characteristics and the specific challenges that the company might be facing. It connects all the step-by-step guides needed to detail plans further or begin executing the implementation of each of the initiatives identified.

The HR Strategic Plan, on the other hand, is used more specifically to enable HR Strategy with emphasis on the HR function itself and its capabilities. It involves setting goals for the HR organization, planning activities, initiatives, and programs that HR will undertake to support not just the organization's objectives, but also the efficiency and effectiveness of the HR function. The process leverages outcomes of various discovery activities and translates resulting insights into HR objectives, goals, owners, and measurement strategies. This structured approach yields a formal document and plan that should be communicated widely to stakeholders and influences the governance of the HR function.

In all three cases across plans, the overall purpose is about aligning human resources strategy with the company's overall goals and objectives, but the focus and level of specificity changes in response to the specific purposes and processes they action to complement each other as part of an integrated HR-driven planning process.

Strategic HR Plan components

When designing a Strategic HR Plan, the document should encompass the full range of considerations, components, and aspects to ensure that it holistically captures the entirety of the human resource management strategy. The essential elements that should be part of such a plan include:

  • Executive Summary: A brief overview of the plan's objectives, key strategies, and expected outcomes.
  • Organizational Overview: Details about the organization, its mission, vision, values, and current workforce profile.
  • HR Organization External and Internal Analysis: Review of economic, industry, and labor market trends, competitive landscape, and legislative changes that might impact HR, as well as a breakdown of the organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to HR. This will help in identifying potential challenges and areas of opportunity.
  • HR Strategic Objectives: Clearly defined goals that the HR function intends to achieve that will help bridge any gaps identified. These can be input from the more comprehensive HR strategy process and plan.
  • Specific HR or Talent Management Strategies: Depending on the organizational objectives, these might include strategies and goals related to Talent Acquisition and Management, succession planning and internal mobility, Learning and Development, leadership development, compensation and benefits, performance management, workforce planning and analytics, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and organizational culture and engagement among others.
  • HR Technology & Systems: Tools and software for various HR administrative and talent functions, such as HRIS, ATS, and LMS. Plans for technology upgrades or migrations.
  • Stakeholder Communication & Change Management: Strategies for communicating HR initiatives to stakeholders. Plans for managing organizational changes and ensuring smooth transitions.
  • Budget & Resources: Estimation of costs associated with each strategy, allocating resources accordingly. This may include costs for recruitment, training programs, technology upgrades, and other HR initiatives. This section should also include any staffing or other resource requirements.
  • Monitoring & Evaluation: Key performance indicators (KPIs) to regularly track and manage performance against the primary HR and talent goals and objectives, processes, and practices and adjust the plan(s) as needed. This should also describe feedback loops and review mechanisms.
  • Action Plan: A detailed breakdown of plans, actions, timelines, responsibilities, and expected outcomes for each strategy.

A document designed with these components will provide a comprehensive framework for the organization's HR-driven strategies, ensuring that every aspect of strategic human resource management is adequately planned for and executed.

Sample Strategic HR Plan

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The strategic HR plan is a living document that should evolve in response to the internal and external factors impacting the company. Regular reviews and adjustments ensure that HR strategies continue to support the organization's mission.

The timeline to create and update a Strategic HR Plan

The timing of creating, reviewing, and updating a strategic HR plan is crucial for its successful execution to ensure alignment with the business cycle. The proper timing will help in budgeting, resource allocation, and ensuring stakeholder buy-in.

Creating a strategic HR plan towards the end of the fiscal year is typically recommended, aligning it with the organization's annual budgeting and planning cycle. This ensures that HR strategies and initiatives have the necessary funds in the upcoming year's budget. Nevertheless, another aspect to consider is that during this time, the business strategy might be in development as well and therefore, there might be a need to sync the timing or revisit it once the business strategy has been finalized to ensure HR strategies support business objectives.

The duration to create a strategic HR plan varies depending on the organization's size, complexity, and existing HR maturity. Generally, it can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks. This involves data gathering, stakeholder interviews, strategy formulation, and documentation. Time should be allotted for stakeholder (business leadership) presentations, review, refinement, and buy-in.

Once the plan is in place, it is recommended to conduct reviews with a certain frequency. A high-level review every quarter is recommended. This helps in assessing the progress of initiatives and making necessary adjustments in line with any changes in business strategy or external factors. Then, it is vital to conduct a detailed review once a year to evaluate the success of the year's HR initiatives and to refine strategies for the upcoming year.

As part of the annual review, the plan should be updated to reflect new priorities, strategies, and initiatives. There might also be times when there's a significant change in the business, such as mergers, acquisitions, or entering a new market when it will be necessary to revisit and make updates. There are also external factors to consider that might trigger updates to the plan, such as changes in labor laws, significant shifts in the job market, or societal events. While it's crucial to have a clear plan properly communicated, it's equally important to remain flexible as unforeseen challenges or opportunities might arise, requiring shifts in HR priorities.

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Enabling Practices & Resources

Core HR Strategy Practices to Define a Foundational Direction for the HR Function.

An HR Strategy defines the process of identifying business-based human resource (HR) tactics that will constitute a comprehensive multi-year approach to the management of the HR function's structure, governance, programs, policies, and practices.

Developing a Base Strategy that Provides Guidance on HR Direction, Initiatives, Objectives, and Goals.

Developing a plan involves leveraging the outcomes of the various discovery activities, organizing them into a logical flow, and translating those insights into HR responses and objectives.

Establishing a Core Talent Management Strategy to Set Priorities and a Strategic Roadmap.

As a company defines its business strategy, each function must align its objectives and actions to support its strategic goals. Talent management strategy is a key process that the HR function follows to accomplish this directive by identifying priorities and setting up plans to advance talent management practices.

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