9 Things to Consider when Choosing a Talent Analytics Partner

May 06, 2016


As business leaders come to value their investment in people, they are turning to HR data analytics to guide their decisions. They are asking HR leaders to take on analytics as an essential component of their portfolio.

In spite of what you may read in the blogs, your world will not end next week if you don’t implement advanced predictive analytics today. It will take time to build a robust analytics capability. What is most important is to start with a strategy and build a solid foundation.

Start from Where You Are

Our priority in developing analytics capability in any organization is a cohesive strategy and structured data governance. But before you can frame a strategy, you need an honest assessment of current capacity.

The Bersin by Deloitte Talent Analytics Maturity Model gives us a framework for the assessment. A typical organization is capable at several levels depending on the function and need. Your marketing analytics maturity may be at the top level while talent analytics is only beginning to get off the ground.


Almost all of the people we talk to about people analytics are at the operational reporting level. What that means is they are using ad hoc reporting to manage day to day activities. The focus is on what has happened in the past and what is going on now.

You are where you are, and it might be exactly where you need to be. However, if your business needs to improve performance, planning, and decision-making, it may be time to lay the groundwork for growth. The right approach at the basic level is to strategize, standardize, and integrate operational reporting, then introduce advanced reporting methods.


The Analytical Skills Gap

Most HR organizations don’t have the analytical expertise to move up the growth curve. People don’t gravitate toward professional work in human resources because they love math and statistics.

Lack of analytics skill leaves HR with three alternatives:

  • Reskill. You may have people in the organization with analytical expertise and the desire to learn, but it could take time.
  • Reorganize. Businesses around the world are rethinking their organizations, and this is an excellent opportunity to change the skill mix in HR. However, competence in talent analytics is a new body of knowledge. Skilled practitioners are scarce and expensive.
  • Retain a Partner. The quickest and most cost-effective path may be to hire a talent analytics consulting firm. Size and capability range from single consulting data analysts to massive global companies. Choose an organization that matches the scope of your plan.

We recommend all three. Hire a good partner who can help you design and execute your strategy while your team’s capability grows. That will put you on the fast track.

Select the Right Partner

A consulting partner must have a broad range of skills in technology, human capital management, and statistical analysis, and the ability to form a solid partnership.

  • First, find a consultant who seeks to understand where you are and where you want to go. Choose one who knows the wisdom of taking one step at a time.
  • Assess the cultural fit. Glitches are inevitable, so you need to be sure you have a partner who will work well with you when an issue arises.
  • Choose a candidate who patiently answers your naïve questions. Arrogance or condescension should alert you to potential problems ahead.
  • Experience in your industry will be helpful. Seek a consultant who understands the talent challenges in your line of business.
  • Ask what technology tools they use and why. The best candidate will start with “it depends” and explain how certain situations demand different tools.
  • Explore experience in talent management. Do they use professional practitioners or a technical consultant who read a book?
  • Inquire about statistical methods and why they choose the methods they do. For example, there is no one-size-fits-all way to perform regression analysis. Hundreds of methods exist, but some analysts only use the tool they know.
  • Request an explanation of how they will determine what methods to use to establish the validity of their models and why.
  • Nobody has perfect data. Ask what they will do to cope with messy and incomplete information.

Human capital analytics is fast becoming a business necessity. Choosing the right partner will help you advance your capability to make decisions that will have a direct impact on your business.

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.


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