5 Beliefs that can derail your progress in People Analytics   [Part 2]

Last week, we explored the first two beliefs, barriers and excuses that can impede your progress when it comes to People Analytics, and what you can do about them.

This week, we will discuss numbers 3&4. Here’s a recap of the 5:

  1. People Analytics is really complex - do we have to go it alone?
  2. People Analytics means advanced statistics, mathematics and predictive models - and this scares the heck out of us.
  3. Can't my (new) HR Systems provide these analytics?
  4. IT is the Go-To group for business intelligence and analytics in our company.
  5. I don’t have the budget.
  6. HOLIDAY BONUS - To be revealed :)

3.  Can't my (new) HR Systems provide these analytics?

This is a great question and it’s one that gets asked a lot. The short answer is no, HR and Talent systems on their own do not provide the insight that HR, Talent and business leaders increasingly require.

The reason is very simple – these systems transact on, and therefore only capture, a portion of the information required to understand outcomes associated with HR programs and activities.

For example, an ATS (or recruitment system) will only provide you single-dimension reporting on your recruitment activities, however a Talent Acquisition Analytics platform will combine information from your ATS, core HR system, performance systems and surveys to provide deep insight into both recruitment efficiency and recruitment effectiveness.

While our HR Tech landscapes are often multiple transactional HR and talent systems (and therefore, disconnected and multi-formatted data), the employee lifecycle is certainly not disconnected - it’s a continuous and intertwined journey from an HR, development, position, performance and pay perspective (amongst other things).

Therefore, to be most insightful and powerful for data-informed HR, your people data needs to come together into One Single View of the Truth which can be manipulated, sliced-and-diced to perform data discovery and visualization.

While there are many layers and components to this, a term which is frequently used is a “data warehouse”. The data warehouse has a fundamentally different purpose, design and technical architecture than that of a “transactional” HR system (and its related database).

And herein lies the reason why your HR systems struggle to provide you with powerful and connected workforce analytics. Let’s go into a bit more detail:  

  • HR and Talent systems are primarily designed to automate business processes. Analytics, therefore, is NOT the prime focus nor core capability of these solutions and, although each system claims to have “analytics/reporting”, the reality is these provide only basic reports on the processes and functionality that said-system automates. These reports may be sufficient for managing the process (efficiency) but they don’t provide the insight needed for HR Leaders to make smarter decisions.
  • Each system captures its own data. The reality is that any reporting that comes from these systems is disconnected from the rest, and therefore limited in business value. While it is difficult, time-consuming, and often futile to work in-house and try to make connections between the data sources, there is tremendous value and insight in doing so. For insightful talent and HR decisions, there needs to be integration across the disparate HR systems as well as those that hold people- and productivity-focused business results data.
  • Even if you run a HCM platform like an Ultipro, ORACLE, SuccessFactors or Workday, there are always additional sources of data which are of tremendous value - this could be engagement data, business productivity, financials, time, health and safety, billings/utilization and sales quota achievement. In addition, even though you’ve implemented a single, end-to-end platform, these are still primarily designed for transactional HR and the data isn’t stored in a way conducive to powerful analytics. Of note, approximately 50-60% of our customers at PeopleInsight run one of these end-to-end platforms as their transactional HR and talent system.

The bottom line is that many organizations have architected their HR technology landscape with the prime objective of automating processes - with management information (data driven HR) being much more of a secondary requirement (if you are lucky), and frequently, nothing more than an afterthought.

Here’s a great example from JOEY Restaurant Group of how data from multiple systems, including sales/revenue, HR, talent and secret shopper can be brought together to make more informed decisions on General Manager performance. Download the independently written Research Bulletin from Bersin by Deloitte which uses JOEY’s story to illustrate the value of such an approach.


4.  IT is the Go-To group for business intelligence and analytics in our company.

Isn’t BI their turf?

Well, the answer to this one is both yes and no. Yes, data integration falls within the domain of IT but there are a number of reasons why it can be challenging for IT to deliver a workforce analytics solution.

  • IT is often stretched thin by initiatives – and HR does not always top the list of priorities
  • IT is IT and, as such, they don’t have strong HR subject matter and HR metrics experience – it’s simply not their forte, so creating a custom solution is difficult
  • The requirement for IT to support systems they have built in-house can often result in cumbersome and slow processes to get modifications done. The reality is, they’re busy, just like you.
  • If and when IT engages on an HR Business Intelligence project, the first question they will likely ask you is….”what do you want?”. And you might not be ready to answer that question or have those requirements clear in your mind.
  • HR data is complex - especially from a BI perspective. Many IT-led data warehouses (focused on operational portions of the business) tend to be less complex in design than HR data warehouses given the nested, effective-date nature of HR records.  If you’ve ever run a report in your HR system and gone for a coffee while it is processing, you’ll understand that HR data structures are an extremely complex beast - and they must be designed and architected accordingly.

You may worry you’ll get resistance from IT in bringing in a 3rd party analytics provider but interestingly enough, in our experience, once IT is brought up to speed, engaged in the security reviews and the new reality of cloud-based business models. they are happy to work alongside HR to bring the solution to reality.

With cloud-based solutions there are no changes to your infrastructure required, no software downloads, no burden on internal systems, no need for IT to learn HR data and metrics, and no need for IT to worry once they have assessed the security and IT capabilities of the solution.

Bring the key stakeholders from IT into the early stages and they’ll have access to the information they need to come onside, and guess what? - they can even become some of your biggest supporters in getting to a workforce analytics solution.

Excuse the analogy, but IT often considers HR BI/Reporting/Analytics as an itch they have never been able to scratch.


Stay tuned next week for our finale to this blog series "5 beliefs that can derail your progress in People Analytics". 

Want to learn about PeopleInsight but don't have time right now to book a full demo? We get it. That's why we created this 10-minute demo video you can watch on your own terms.  Take a sneak peak at our solution now! 

10 Minute Demo People Analytics

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