This week we’ll tackle the importance of Data Integrity in successful people analytics. This is an excerpt from our Playbook 3 – A Practical Guide to Becoming Data Driven.
Process Control and Data Integrity
In your people analytics journey, when you consider process control and data integrity, keep these 3 points in mind:
- You don’t need perfect data to find material business issues and outcomes
- Your data cleansing activities will naturally occur and be more focused once you start using your data for driving decisions
- Acknowledge that data cleansing isn't an overnight fix - focus where is matters, when it matters.
Part of the iterative process will be recognizing that some, or much of your data, might be a wee-bit dirty.
First off, perfect data is rare (and impossible perhaps) - but you can still gain “deep” understanding into a material issue with far-from perfect data. You need to be upfront about this and note the known inaccuracies of your reporting, and a margin of error (for instance, +/- 15%) for your estimate. A $5M turnover issue is still material with or without a +/-15% margin of error.
Secondly, data is often incomplete, invalid or inaccurate because HR processes and HR systems activities have been typically executed for transactional purposes, versus decision-making purposes. Once you start using your HR data more frequently and materially for making decisions, its quality and your process controls will inevitably improve.
The reality is, when you need accurate data, your HR processes will become tighter and more focused on upfront data quality.
It's important to acknowledge this isn’t an overnight fix, and the best approach is to work towards improving data quality where it matters, when it matters. You shouldn't try to fix it all at once - exercise precision where you need it.
As you get started, in the first few months you will likely be using your “tools” to powerfully and rapidly identify where you need to spend time and effort on data cleansing and process control - and you’ll only do this with data segments that matter.
Data visualization tools – and their embedded filtering and segmentation capabilities – will actually help you identify areas that require attention.
It’s like having an x-ray machine into your data.
The best advice where data quality is concerned, is to just get going using your data IN A FOCUSED WAY. You'll want to enlist the support of your colleagues and leaders who can help you continually improve the quality, timeliness and completeness of that data you are most in need of.
Don’t try and do an enterprise-wide HR data cleansing project - it’s simply too much of a shotgun/one-size fits all approach and history tells us, value doesn’t get delivered in the areas you need to move the needle.
In our next 5MF we’ll move on to the third of our four anchor capabilities for success in people analytics: BI Tools & Technology.