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Workforce planning software boosts influence of HR at Kimberly-Clark

HR manager at consumer products giant says using cloud-based Anaplan to manage head count gives HR a seat at the finance table and more say in strategic business planning.

HR at Kimberly-Clark Corp. is using cloud-based Anaplan to maintain a steady number of employees and work closely with finance leaders on strategic workforce planning.

Jim Miranda, manager of global workforce planning and analytics in HR at Kimberly-Clark, said the company built a model in Anaplan for planning and costs for 44,000 employees and about 12,000 contingent workers around the globe. It took the company three to four months to deploy Anaplan Inc.'s workforce planning software in late 2015.

Kimberly-Clark chose Anaplan for workforce planning over Workday and Visier, he said, primarily because the company's finance office was already using Anaplan for budget planning and forecasting and the tool was flexible.

HR gets a seat at the table

From an HR perspective, we have a seat at the table. We now do our planning with finance instead of finance doing the planning and telling us what we are going to do.
Jim Mirandamanager of global workforce planning and analytics, Kimberly-Clark

Miranda said Anaplan workforce planning software raised HR's profile inside the consumer products giant and allowed HR to play a more strategic role. He said Anaplan provides a companywide view of all employees and future plans for those employees, allowing for retirement planning and talent acquisition.

"From an HR perspective, we have a seat at the table," Miranda said. "We now do our planning with finance instead of finance doing the planning and telling us what we are going to do."

Miranda said he is the only person who uses the workforce planning software for modeling. Another 75 to 80 HR professionals use it for reporting and planning in unison with finance.

Based in Dallas, Kimberly-Clark owns brands such as Kleenex, Huggies and Scott paper products. Miranda started using Anaplan after his company spun off its healthcare business and the CEO wanted a way to control head count.

HR business partners input plans for head count directly into Anaplan and use the tool to make real-time changes to their 24-month staffing plans, he said, adding that Anaplan provides a live review of staffing level changes and an ability to use the plans for position control.

Lesson learned

When he first began using Anaplan, Miranda said he learned an important lesson after deciding to apply an Excel add-in tool instead of having users load data directly into Anaplan, which is the way Anaplan is designed to be used.

He said he chose to use the Excel add-in tool when he experienced some initial resistance from people to use Anaplan. He sent spreadsheets to various HR business partners around the globe, who filled them out and sent them back for loading into Anaplan.

While the Excel add-in allowed for a quick, six-week initial planning process with limited training and enabled him to meet deadlines for a plan for 2016 and 2017, it required significant effort on the part of his team.

"The tool was not particularly stable at that time and this caused a lot of work behind the scenes to get data loaded correctly," he said.

The lesson learned, Miranda said, is to use Anaplan the way it is designed, not with an add-in.

Although the Excel add-in did have a benefit of limiting initial user licenses until Kimberly-Clark could better establish who should use Anaplan directly, he said, "It is much better to actually educate the people [who] are going to be using it to do it properly than to try to make it work with a workaround, which is what we did."

Anaplan model undergoes three iterations

That first model in Anaplan contained no financial information and was strictly for planning how many people would work at the company and where they would work.

Jim Miranda, manager of global workforce planning and analytics, Kimberly-ClarkJim Miranda

"Once we did that, we started meeting with finance people more extensively. They convinced us that if we add costs into the data, then we could have one budgeting process instead of an HR process and a finance process, so we did a second iteration of the model where we added in costs to the scope."

This year, Miranda began the process of creating a third iteration of the model, in addition to adding in a significantly larger number of data points for workers.

"We built a spoke-and-hub-type model where we have a centralized hub for our executive reporting and rollup consolidation of modeling and budget plan. And then each of our five significant business units in our [Selling, General and Administrative Expenses] functions [has] a separate model where they do their planning and budgeting."

Anaplan helps with retirement planning

The business software is helping in some key ways, Miranda said.

Anaplan allows Kimberly-Clark to achieve a steady head count, he said, so it can plan for costs based on a very stable number of employees, he said. It also allows for workforce planning for retirement risks, especially in the U.S.

With Anaplan, the company can forecast how fast it needs to replace skilled trades such as electricians and pipe fitters who are starting to retire at manufacturing plants, he said.

The company reached out to HR professionals at affected plants and started to work with them to implement strategies such as apprenticeship programs, partnerships with local trade and vocational schools and development of lower-skilled employees for higher-level roles.

The company, he said, is enacting similar plans in Europe, where the same retirements of skilled workers are set to occur about a decade later than the U.S.

Anaplan helps identify language issue

Anaplan also helped identify a need for more Portuguese-speaking supervisors and HR professionals in Latin America, after people trained at Kimberly-Clark mills in Brazil began moving to positions at other mills in Latin America, he said. Most of Latin America speaks Spanish, but Portuguese is the main language in Brazil.

"We are starting to put in place a plan to get more Portuguese-language awareness in our Latin American operations simply based on that one analysis," he said.

HR is also using the workforce planning software to pilot a program in North America to establish more discipline in hiring. When HR receives requests to fill positions through the talent acquisition process, it validates that the position was in the budget plan and, if it was, talent acquisition moves forward and fills it. If not, then a process is followed for a possible exception, he said.

"If you do not put position control in place, managers have the ability to fill positions that are outside of their budget. The head count could creep up over time which is how companies end up having to do reductions in force."

'Courage to move forward'

By tapping Anaplan for workforce planning, Miranda said he is using it "way out of the norm" from the software vendor's traditional base in planning, budgeting and forecasting.

"I am probably Anaplan's biggest fan and I understand there is some competition for that title. They have been incredibly supportive and made it very easy for me to have the courage to move forward and do what I envisioned. I could not recommend them more highly."

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