22.05.16 White paper

The Debate is Over

Read a blog post on HR or Talent Management in the past two years? You must have noticed. Everyone is talking about HR Analytics. Unfortunately, the operative word in that sentence is ‘talking’.

Nobody seems to doubt the advantages of having better insight into employee data. Everyone agrees predictive HR analytics are invaluable. All are convinced of the benefits of improved reporting for people metrics. So why are still talking about it?

Like you, we've read endless surveys, all uniformly reporting that analytics is essential, useful and urgently needed in HR. These surveys need to be updated. Perhaps they should stop asking "What are the benefits of analytics for HR?" and start asking "What's holding back HR teams from adopting analytics?" If the benefits are obvious, maybe we can make more progress if we shift focus to the barriers to adoption.

Why are we Scared?

We have informally been conducting our own type of survey. The sample is quite large but can't be quantified as it is drawn from the conversations with clients who we meet and work with every day. It is a biased sample, and not representative of all HR professionals. It consists only of people who have already taken the first steps towards implementing people analytics. It is not a perfect, scientific survey. But we think it is a highly relevant one.

So what is it that we hear from those about to embark on the analytics journey? What are the three worries that are at the forefront of their mind? We’ve made a list:

 
  1. Our team are not data scientists, we’re HR professionals. A lack of analytical skillsets in the HR team presents two perceived challenges – implementation and interpretation. Can the team successfully implement analytics if they are not analytical themselves? Can the team get value and insights from an analytical tool if they are not highly numerate?
  2. Our underlying data is too messy, it’s simply not accurate. Quite often the data sitting within ERP and HRMS systems, especially those manually maintained, is of a poor quality. The HR team worries that any investment in analytical capability would therefore be wasted.
  3. Our IT guys are busy, we can’t start another big project. Because analytics or anything related to business intelligence is a ‘data project’, IT will be brought in as a stakeholder. Getting the IT team’s attention is difficult and there are always concerns about the cost, timing and scale of any potential technology project.

The concerns are legitimate. As consultants, we worked through these concerns with our clients and it was often a slow and painful process. Anyone serious about HR analytics will need to address these points and be realistic about the journey ahead.

Our Response

Two years ago we were working as HR consultants, specialising in data analytics projects for businesses across different industries. We saw the barriers outlined above very clearly. The same barriers are the principle reason we started work on Qlearsite. We decided that technology could resolve all three.

If HR professionals are worried about acquiring analytical skills, we should provide tools that bridge that gap. Analytical software should be incredibly easy to use and require no training – a simple user interface and creative visuals help explain the insights hidden inside HR data.

If the data is messy, we should clean it. Software can automatically and intelligently resolve data conflicts and eliminate duplications. Furthermore, analytical tools should be flexible enough to adapt their approaches to fit with each businesses ‘data maturity’.

If IT is overwhelmed with work, let’s reduce the complexity of implementations. Analytical software should integrate with any ERP, without requiring lengthy customisation. Indeed, IT effort can be eliminated entirely if data is ingested using the standard formats of the ERP.

If HR is provided with the right tools, there really are no excuses. When properly equipped, HR Analytics will be easier than you think.

Final Thought

Businesses shouldn’t be held back by complexity. Barriers should be addressed and overcome. Especially if the rewards for doing so are proven and substantial. This is certainly the case with People Analytics – HR now has access to powerful, analytical software that is both simple to use and easy to install.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s stop talking about the benefits of HR Analytics. Let’s start experiencing them.

Say hello@qlearsite.com.

    

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