Rocky Economy Drives Interest in Work Force Analytics

Ann All

Updated · Sep 06, 2011

Back in July, I wrote a post suggesting CIOs could provide business value by working with human resources professionals. HR is a largely untapped opportunity for CIOs, because HR has been slow to adopt software that can be used to improve employee recruitment, onboarding, performance management, training and other key HR functions.

I shared four suggestions from Adventis Consulting partner Alan Erskine, who stresses the importance of IT, HR and operations working together to create an integrated human capital management approach. The suggestions:

  • Ensure integrated applications for payroll, HR, resource management, and time and attendance are in place.
  • Create consistent rules for workforce planning and allocation for the entire organization to use.
  • Provide single-source reporting with consolidated resource and payroll data.
  • Provide support for what-if analysis on workforce size and utilization.

These all fit nicely under the umbrella of work force analytics. Writing on Deloitte’s HR Blog, John Houston says the rocky economy has created interest in work force analytics. There’s a growing realization that both revenue and expenses are closely connected to the work force, a trend that will become even more pronounced as the numbers of service-based jobs increase.

As with other business intelligence solutions, most companies are trying to determine whether they want a point solution designed to address a specific issue or whether they want to embrace a more comprehensive approach that encompasses people, data, processes, tools and governance. Houston offers three questions for companies to consider:

  • What are goals for the next six to 12 months?
  • How will workforce analytics yield a return on investment?
  • What kind of challenges will need to be overcome?

An IBM report, published back in 2009 but certainly still relevant, touches upon several key work force analytics challenges of which companies should be aware, including data consistency and systems integration. (Both of those will sound pretty familiar to anyone ever involved in any kind of BI initiative.) 

The report also includes, beginning on Page 21, five steps that can help companies overcome these work force analytics challenges:

  • Define top workforce challenges by asking questions such as “Which recruiting channels provide the most effective sales leaders after three years at the organization?” and “What are the factors that differentiate higher-performing managers from their more average peers?”
  • Identify data requirements and take steps to encourage consistent data collection methods.
  • Define a common workforce analytics platform. According to IBM, the platform should be able to integrate data from different HR, ERP, learning management, finance and sales systems into a common data warehouse where both standard and custom queries can be conducted.
  • Consider ease of use. In order to get HR professionals on board, the workforce analytics solution should be easy to use.
  • Include analytics in the broader HR picture. This just may be the most important of the five steps, though it’s one that likely won’t come until a bit later in the initiative. IBM stresses building broad analytics capabilities within the HR function through not only training but also recruiting people with analytic backgrounds into HR, rotating employees into HR from functions such as finance and customer service, and incorporating analytics into professional goals and responsibilities. Building data analysis skills within specific business functions provides one way for companies to deal with the data analysis skills shortage.


Ann All
Ann All

Public relations, digital marketing, journalism, copywriting. I have done it all so I am able to communicate any information in a professional manner. Recent work includes creating compelling digital content, and applying SEO strategies to increase website performance. I am a skilled copy editor who can manage budgets and people.

More Posts By Ann All