With a Little Help From My Friends: HR and HRIT Partnerships for Workforce Analytics
Last Thursday (March 6), Marcus Joseph – a principal consultant with the SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics & Planning team – and I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on workforce analytics at the Minnesota HR Tech Expo, operated by LEHRN, in Minneapolis. We knew the audience was likely to be a mix of HRIT and HR professionals; thus, decided to take a slightly different approach than the standard “why Workforce Analytics, why now?”.
Instead, we posed the question of “across which activities can HRIT and HR partner to more effectively build and deploy a capability for workforce analytics?”
We looked at five such HRIT/HR partnership activities, sharing our perspective and using a question to guide audience discussion (in the session itself, we divided the five questions into two breakouts):
1. Governance Procedures for the Data ETL Process: As described in a SuccessFactors data management workshop, a governance program “encompasses the people, processes, and information technology required to create a consistent and proper handling of an organization’s data across the business enterprise.” We shared a sample governance model, featuring HRIT/HR management of data sources, transfer processes, business logic, and end-user access. We also briefly talked through an example of a customer who had deployed the SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics application but encountered significant resistance, due to the lack of cross-functional standards on metrics definition.
Audience Question: What data management (storage, transfer, maintenance) issues might hinder your use of workforce analytics, and what cross-functional governance models have worked/could work to address them?
2. Managing an Integrated Dataset: Noting that, on any given day, your managers might be asking any of a hundred questions on workforce strategy (e.g., what are our best sources of hire as measured by productivity output?), HRIT and HR have the opportunity to collaborate on identifying and integrated multiple datasets, to speed the delivery of data-driven answers. Of course, it is then incumbent on HR to educate the organization on data quality (the timeliness, accuracy, and applicability of which will differ from reporting to analytics to workforce planning).
Audience Question: Which of your firm’s data sources (not “systems”) contain data with the highest and lowest data quality? Why? What challenges have you faced with creating a “single version of the truth” – standard sources, formulas, business logic, etc.?
3. Evaluating Multi-Channel Delivery Options: Of course, users access and consume workforce data in a range of ways; however, in focusing solely on technology options – business leaders can just as easily ignore analytics on an iPad as they can a static dashboard – we can overlook nuanced differences in how audiences want to receive analytics and what they will do next to explore the underlying data. For example, individuals responsible for assessing high-level trends may prefer snapshot data with qualitative interpretations and future predictions, whereas analysts may wish to go data-mining. In each case, the delivery option will be different.
Audience Question: What channels does your organization use currently to deliver data to end-users? What channels would you like to see adopted, that will drive utilization?
4. Information Retailing: Here, Marcus examined the shift from traditional HRIT/HR collaborations, in which a goal is to “manufacture” a workforce analytics asset, to a consumer-focused “retail” strategy; giving thought to how best to “sell” analytics and drive user adoption. As such, HRIT and HR organizations are putting more stock in delivery capabilities such as graphic design, data visualization, and storytelling.
Audience Question: Think of an example you’ve experienced where data was turned into a story that was successfully marketed to the target audience. What characterized the final product?
5. Empowering the User: Finally, Marcus discussed the concept of mass customization, wherein technologies deliver goods and services to meet individual customer needs with mass production efficiency. In a consumer-led world, it is near impossible for HRIT and HR to control the utilization of workforce analytics data and tools; instead, users expect flexible applications that deliver an optimal experience (not one characterized by limited functionality or clunky design). Using a museum analogy, we often act like workforce analytics tour guides – in an effort to please as many as possible, we select a few specific topics and cover them in a depth that is too much for some and not enough for others. On the other hand, we could be more like the curator, creating a broad, flexible experience that users can engage with according to their individual wants and needs.
Audience Question: What is an example of a solution that you have experienced where enabling you as the end-user greatly enhanced the resulting impact?
To conclude the session, we ended by asking attendees to write down an answer to this question, used to focus attention on how workforce analytics data can be applied: “I would like to know whether my firm’s investment in _________________ has resulted in ______________________?”
The framework is still a work-in-progress, so feedback is welcome on the activities and the perspectives therein.
For those of you going to SAP Insider/HR2014 this week, I would be happy to discuss how SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics can help organizations like yours with metrics, reporting, and analytics. Feel free to email me at email@example.com.