Strategic Human Resource Planning (SHRM): Guide to Human Resources & Management

A screenshot of a strategic human resource planning software interface showing a Gantt chart with tasks and timelines for various employees. Highlights include design, development, and rebranding projects across a monthly calendar view.

Strategic human resource planning (SHRM) is a proactive process that aligns human resource capabilities with long-term business goals.

In this guide, we’ll go through the basics of why this foward-thinking approach is so important for resource planning success. This includes its definition, the main steps, and best business practices.

Key Takeaways

  • Strategic HR management (SHRM) is a key step to ensuring that businesses are resilient and sustainable in the long run.
  • Key steps of the process include: analyzing current capacity, forecasting needs, gap analysis, HR strategy implementation and monitoring.
  • Many of the challenges of SHRM, such as resistance to change or tracking KPIs, can be addressed by implementing a modern ERP software solution.

What Is Strategic Human Resource Planning?

Strategic human resource planning is part of the broader human resource planning (HRP) strategy. This process targets long-term objectives, spanning from one to five years, and ensures that businesses have enough capacity to meet future needs.

Strategic HR planning must be aligned with short-term resource planning, which handles daily concerns, such as employee schedules and workloads. Long-term strategies should also be aligned across departments, such as the finances or management, to ensure that initiatives contribute to shared organizational goals.

See more: What Is Human Resource Planning?

Why Businesses Need Strategic HRP

Some of the critical business questions that strategic HRP addresses can include:

  • Will you have enough human resources for future needs?
  • Which type of talent will you need (regarding skills, seniority, etc.)
  • Which conflicts or gaps could appear in your business workflows?
  • Do you have contingency plans for various risk factors?

Additionally, it can cover broader concerns, such as the need for organizational flexibility or continuous improvement. As an ongoing process, strategic management provides the perfect answer for businesses to tackle and address complex issues.

5 Main Steps of the Strategic HR Planning Process

The four main steps of strategic HRM include analyzing current capacity, needs forecasting, gap analysis, and strategy development and implementation.

1. Analyzing Current Capacity

This step involves analyzing both internal and external business circumstances that are important for future demand. Internal factors usually include details about your current employees, including their productivity, specific skills, availability, and engagement levels. External factors encompass market trends, economic conditions, and industry-specific demands that could influence future resource requirements.

Learn more: Capacity Model Examples

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2. Needs Forecasting

Accurate needs forecasting is one of the most challenging parts of the developing workforce plans. It involves predicting the skills, overall capacity, and roles needed to keep a business relevant during changing market conditions and technological advancements. Therefore, it requires a thorough understanding of your human capital and the industry.

Needs forecasting includes:

  • Supply forecasting: Assesses the current workforce and external labor market trends to identify whether there will be an excess or shortage of talent in the future.
  • Demand forecasting: Focuses more on demand, i.e., quantifying future labor requirements to ensure that business goals will be met.

3. Gap Analysis

Gap analysis takes the first two steps of the human resource management process to pinpoint specific areas of improvement — it compares the current workforce capabilities with future needs to identify conflicts or discrepancies.

For example, a retail chain looking to expand its online presence might consider its current capacity, and realize that it has enough technical roles to go into e-commerce. However, by conducting needs forecasting of the competitors, it may recognize the need for marketing professionals skilled in SEO or digital marketing to drive more of their customer base to their website.

4. Strategy Development

The next step involves developing specific strategies to address resource conflicts and help your business reach its goals. Some of these may include:

  • Talent management strategies can be developed to address issues with workforce management. It can include processes such as recruiting, retaining, and developing employees.
  • Employee engagement strategies are usually developed to tackle low morale and productivity. Organizational strategies might include improving collaboration, manager-to-employee feedback, or other capacity building examples.
  • Development programs are a specific part of talent management, aimed to address skill gaps through upskilling or reskilling employees. Strategies may include mentoring by senior employees, workshops, or other training opportunities.
  • Succession planning is utilized to mitigate the risk of key positions becoming vacant unexpectedly. It usually involves identifying high-risk positions and then selecting and preparing potential employees to fill them in the future.

Learn more about workload management.

5. Implementation and Monitoring

To ensure that your strategies are effective across time, it’s necessary to closely monitor progress, usually by analyzing various key capacity performance indicators (KPIs). Setting desired targets can be a good way of determining if you’re on the right track — for example, an agency with low productivity might set its desired utilization rates at 80%.

A screenshot of a strategic human resource planning software displaying a time tracking summary. The table shows department names, employee photos, and columns for billable hours, total hours worked, and billable percentage, with color-coded efficiency rates for quick assessment.

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However, it’s equally important to keep in mind that some benefits of successful ERP can be difficult to quantify or determine in a short amount of time. This can include better workplace culture or increased employee satisfaction.

See more: ERP benefits for businesses

Documenting Your Strategic HR Plan

The strategic HR document should include an outline of the organization’s human resource objectives, the strategies for achieving them, and the steps for implementation. Putting your initiatives into writing can help drive alignment across various teams and ensure that everything is progressing according to plan.

How and Where to Create Documentation?

According to research by Forrester, 97% of organizations have minimal or no digitally documented processes. While traditional documentation can be better than no documentation, consider the benefits of automating information gathering and sharing with ERP software solutions.

We used to have a project management tool, a time tracking tool, a support tool, a way we handled opportunities and sales-driven processes. Those were all separate tools that we had, and it wasn’t good. It also meant that all that data was being lost every time we switched between tools, or we had to find a way to normalize the data between them. And now, the fact that it’s all in one, it’s really a game changer.


For example, the resource and agency management tool Productive can help you automate the work scheduling process with its resource planning model template, provide real-time reporting on utilization rates, manage employee availability and time off, and more.

Another great feature you can consider is collaborative documentation with AI content creation. This can help you keep all essential project data on a single platform.


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Challenges & Best Practices for Strategic HRP

Some of the main challenges of strategic HRP include ensuring buy-in at all organizational levels, handling resistance to change, efficiently monitoring performance, and fostering continuous improvement.

Getting Business-Wide Buy-In

Organizational changes need to be effected from the top to the ground-level staff. Getting buy-in for new initiatives from leaders and other key stakeholders is essential to get the most out of your HRP initiatives. Silos can cause issues for adoption and cause miscommunications across teams, where one part of the company may not be aware of the changes or understand their role in implementation.

Overcoming Resistance to Change

According to Deloitte, some of the biggest roadblocks to new initiatives include resistance to change (82%) and inadequate sponsorship (72%). Both can be addressed with clear communication and transparency, so that all employees understand why and how initiatives are being implemented. Asigning change ambassadors within teams can facilitate a smoother transition.

Learn more: Efficient resource management for multiple projects

Reviewing and Analyzing Progress

Good initiatives can stumble and fall if there’s no way to measure actual performance. Selecting the right key performance indicators and implementing a way to analyze them is important for the success of HRP initiatives. For example, a consulting firm that has issues with turnover might implement additional benefits or hire more staff to balance workloads — the KPIs to be monitored would be employee satisfaction, the utilization rate, and the attrition rate.

A screenshot of a strategic human resource planning software showing a rebranding campaign's progress with a bar and line graph. The visual includes weekly hours worked, budget details with invoiced amounts, and time metrics such as quantity worked and remaining hours.

Productive can forecast KPIs for professional services agencies, like revenue and profit margins

Incremental Changes and Continuous Innovation

Another reason why monitoring KPIs is so important is that incremental but timely improvements are always better than extensive changes. Smaller adjustments allow businesses to remain flexible and agile to adapt to market demands and internal changes without causing disruptions.

The Role of Analytics & HRP Software

Finally, most, if not all challenges mentioned above can be streamlined with the right tools for resource planning and HR management.

The benefits of using such tools include:

  • Improved timeline estimation (60%)
  • More effective use of resources (55%)
  • Enhanced team communication (49%)
  • More accurate metrics (38%)

There are many potential options on the market, but consider using a comprehensive software for your strategic planning. These types of solutions can give you a competitive advantage with benefits such as centralized workflows, unified data, and reduced costs for tech stacks.

A screenshot of a strategic human resource planning software showing individual employee work schedules. Bars represent hours allocated to tasks such as website development and rebranding projects against a weekly timeline, with vacation and personal time visibly marked.

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As an all-in-one solution tailored to agencies of all shapes and sizes, Productive can help you manage both day-to-day resource management and create strategic plans. Key features include: resource allocation, employee performance management, real-time reporting, project budgeting, agency workflow automations, and much more.

Learn more about Productive by booking a demo today.


What are the 4 HR strategies?

The 4 HR strategies include talent acquisition and retention, learning and development, performance management, and workforce planning and forecasting (check out our workforce planning definition). Each strategy addresses a part of the human resource planning process and contributes to achieving organizational success.

What is strategic resource planning?

Strategic resource planning is a part of human resource management that examines the capacity and needs of your future workforce for sustainable business growth. It’s focused on ensuring that your business has the critical skills for meeting business goals over a long period of time.

What are the 5 steps in human resource planning?

The 5 main steps in human resource planning include: analyzing current HR availability, forecasting future needs, gap analysis, developing strategies for human resource management, and implementing and monitoring your initiatives.

What is SHRM and its importance?

SHRM or strategic human resources management is a forward-looking approach to managing human resources and aligning HR practices with organizational goals. It allows businesses to remain competitive, sustainable, and flexible in dynamic market conditions.

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Lucija Bakić

Content Specialist

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