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How Advanced Reporting Can Build a Bridge to People Analytics

Sep 07, 2016

People-analytics (2)

Almost all human capital management platforms today provide tools for advanced reporting. Vendors are responding to demand for information, and competition is driving them to improve their reporting functions. This article is about how to use that capability to create momentum for data-driven HR.

According to the Bersin Talent Management Maturity Model, How_Advanced_Reporting_Can_Build_a_Bridge_to_People_Analytics_IB.jpg organizations in the Advanced Reporting stage of analytics maturity are proficient in these activities:

  • Proactive reporting for decision making.
  • Measurement of  results  and comparison with trends and benchmarks.
  • Delivering customizable self-service dashboards to decision-makers.

At this level, we turn the focus from internal operational reporting to helping business leaders make decisions that impact results. The measurements change from "What happened?" to "How will this affect the business?"

Prerequisites

Operating at the advanced level requires that your operational reporting is functioning well. At minimum, we recommend you have these practices in place:

  • Your data clean and well-organized.
  • You have at least begun to integrate talent management platforms with each other and with core HR systems.
  • You have automated your recurring reports so you can devote time to more advanced reporting and analytics.
  • Your organization has a cross-functional data team.

Using Advanced Reporting to Bridge Analytics Gaps

Developing your advanced reporting will close four gaps that exist in many organizations today: an HR credibility gap, an analytics culture gap, an analytics skills gap, and a funding gap.

D14_Pixentia People Analytics_LPThe HR Credibility Gap

Many business leaders today perceive that HR data is not credible and is not aligned with business needs. Having lived through the era of legacy ERP systems and clunky, disconnected applications, we understand the influence of history.

Advanced analytics is an opportunity to overturn the perception. If you deliver fast, accurate information to the people who need it, the attitude will change.

The Analytics Culture Gap

We in the business world have a lifetime of making gut decisions, and we place a high value on people with “good judgment.” Using data to improve decision-making can feel like we are giving up control.

Create a data-driven culture by valuing and practicing the principle of making decisions with the best available information. Understand that when a logic-driven decision doesn’t “feel” right, there may be factors at work we don’t understand. You can allow human judgment into the process without giving up the value of logical analysis.

The right path it is to fold analytics culture into organizational culture, including decision-making as a rigorous, data-driven process.

The Analytics Skills Gap

There is no quick fix to the skills gap, and if you slept through your economics and statistics learning, you need a refresher. We don’t recommend you rush out to hire a data scientist. If you are only now refining your ability to deliver accurate information for decision-making, you are not ready to make that leap. However, you need to assemble a team with the following capabilities suggested by Dussert and Volini,[1] whether it is inside or outside your enterprise:

  • strategic thinking and industry expertise to understand and communicate the vision to stakeholders at every level,
  • experience and expertise in each business function,
  • data visualization expertise,
  • skills in data management and governance, and
  • technical infrastructure and systems management capability.

If you already have these skills in your organization, seek to engage them as business partners. If you don’t, you can engage an analytics consulting partner while you build your team skills.

The Analytics Funding Gap

Many CFOs are questioning the value of analytics after significant investments didn’t pay off. We recommend an entirely different approach: think big, start small.[2] Use small successes to show the value of the information you bring to a decision. Those small successes will help you build the momentum for larger efforts.

How to Get Started with Advanced Reporting

The best advice we can give for getting started is this: don’t go it alone. Use the assets and expertise that already exists in your organization. Gather them together and take these five steps to success:

  1. Assess the information you have. Study the data models in your talent platforms and how the data can help business decision-making.
  2. Benchmark your talent metrics against industry norms to get an indicator of where you might begin, but don’t let benchmarks alone drive your decision. Your business leaders should do that.
  3. Conduct a needs assessment. Work with line of business leaders throughout the organization to understand their information needs.
  4. Use the tools in your talent platform or data warehouse to develop the reports your people need. Once you have data outputs that meet their requirements, automate the reports.
  5. Where it makes sense to do so, integrate data feeds into other business platforms for reporting.
  6. Use your needs analysis to develop talent dashboards for employees, managers, and executives. If your talent platforms do not have the capability to configure and deliver dashboards, there are many solutions available. Before you jump into a solution, call us. We would be glad to talk with you about our experience with the leading analytics platforms.

Next Steps

In a future article, we will discuss how you can use statistical analysis to solve business problems. If you want to learn more about how you can use analytics right now, read our free e-book:

The Datafication of HR: Migrating from Operational Metrics to People Analytics

Find out how you can start the conversation about people and performance by impacting business results.

References: 

1. Dussert, Bertrand and Erica Volini: (Webinar) The informed Executive: Improving Organizational Agility Through Workforce Analytics. Oracle Corp. Feburary 4, 2016.

2. Isson, Jean Paul, and Jesse Harriott. People Analytics in the Era of Big Data: Changing the Way You Attract, Acquire, Develop, and Retain Talent. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2016. Print.

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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