4 steps to improve headcount planning

Mike Gonzalez

Mike Gonzalez

4 minutes

4 steps to improve headcount planning


4 steps to improve how you plan and manage headcount this year. 


Nearly everyone I talk with who just wrapped up annual planning struggled with headcount changes from when planning started to when the process ended. You take a snapshot of employees, reqs, and requests, but there’s a ton of change throughout a 1-3 month planning cycle. 

Maintain a single source of truth with regular syncs of information from your source systems (plans, ATS, HRIS, etc.). Any tracker, analysis, or planning should reference this data source, so everyone is always aligned. 


As much as a new year brings a clean slate, the reality is things will undoubtedly change, and our annual plans quickly become stale. Don’t track change requests (new headcount requests, swaps, transfers, backfills, etc.) in email or slack. Create a process that allows you to be in the know and keep a record of what was approved and when. 


Be thoughtful about how information flows from planned headcount to requisition to an employee. Maintaining a common thread across these systems and processes with unique IDs will reduce conflicts in your data and the need to reconcile manually.

Build dashboards for standard reports and give visibility into day-to-day performance. Businesses are concerned about under-hiring or overspending and the implications on growth, margins, and culture. Bring attention to key metrics and watch performance follow. 


Give hiring plan visibility to managers and recruiting. Most finance teams don’t have the resources to sit down with hiring managers, especially during planning season. Plans are centralized in FP&A systems that are too sensitive or complicated to share. Find ways to disseminate information to promote accountability and reduce conflicts. 

Empower budget-owners with tools that they can use to see the financial impact of their moves. It’s frustrating and inefficient to run an analysis every time someone wants to see a scenario. 

Headcount is the fundamental unit for Finance. It drives everything. It’s worth the time and investment to get right, no matter your stage.

Mike Gonzalez

My name is Mike Gonzalez. I'm an entrepreneur and fitness enthusiast. My mission is to inspire others to do great things by leading by example, sharing my story and learnings, and enabling underprivileged with resources. I'm currently the co-founder and CEO at Trace.

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