The Complex Job of Keeping HR Data Simple

September 10, 2014 Ray Rivera



The complex job of keeping HR data simple

If there is one thing that is clear about the future of HR, it is that it will need to exert much greater mastery over the fundamentals of creating business value. HR leadership of the future will need to have a deep understanding of the commercial operations of the business, including experience with sales, marketing, CRM, merchandising, and even supply chain. It will have to lead increasingly complex and global change management initiatives with even greater facility. And it will have to rely on both technology and technological know-how to perform analytics and execute on key initiatives.

As the workforce becomes more demographically and culturally diverse, HR will have to adapt, simultaneously taking a broad view of acquiring and developing talent, but a precise view of remaining compliant in all the regions it operates.

A fundamental part of transforming HR leadership to meet these challenges is coordinating these activities throughout the organization, and equipping all the parts for their special roles. HR can realize its aspirations of becoming a strategic partner to senior management by managing the resources that drive enterprise transformation. In particular, data that describes these activities is required from throughout the organization, as well as knowledge about the data. How can HR facilitate an effective data exchange with executives and corporate strategy?

Understanding the data needs of executives and corporate strategy

Acutely aware of shrinking opportunities for obtaining competitive advantage, executives seek to craft and guide long term workforce plans around the human capital which they can access and develop. Their aim is to extract the most business value from the company’s intangible assets, which is achieved by managing human capital with the same precision as other capital assets. Strategic value derives from knowing what a company’s secret weapons are, and how and when to use them.

Yet executives struggle with monitoring key metrics in one integrated display, saturation with unneeded data, and collating information from multiple sources. Such a cognitive overload prevents understanding complex relationships between people and teams, drilling down to root causes, and obtaining timely and consistent alerts for emerging problems.

Working right beside executives, corporate strategy aims to integrate human capital into the kind of strategic planning and analysis that business leaders use to chart their companies’ course. The result may include a blueprint of how the business can leverage its unique human capital to achieve competitive advantage.

But corporate strategy requires great amounts of quantitative information, and of such consistency and quality that it can cohere into a compelling story. Corporate strategists therefore struggle with translating strategy into workforce plans and specifying competencies. Additionally, they struggle with identifying workforce risks, including those associated with potential critical talent shortages, excessive HR costs due to ad-hoc interventions, and the opportunity costs of revenue streams foregone where right talent is not available.

Partners in talent

Regarding acquiring and developing talent, a partnership needs to develop between the CEO, HR executives, and business leaders. HR executives need to take on a greater role in succession planning, especially regarding the top talent.

Additionally, compliance is becoming a practice area that will expand into compensation, which in a global context will draw from local regulations around taxation, social insurance, employee separation, collective bargaining, accounting, and data governance, along with global norms of the broader labor economics of the global mobile talent elite. How compensation relates to employee performance promises to be especially salient for businesses operating in emerging markets, where local talent pools are tapped quickly.

HR leadership: Providing a simple way to approach a complex world

Management of business organizations has for over a century depended on measurable processes and behaviors, and the ability to direct information about the performance of those processes and behaviors to those who can influence action. Advances in process automation have resulted in large amounts of HR data, and the ability to store data cheaply enables new levels of insight.

However, data remaining in storage is of little benefit if it cannot be accessed readily and timely. Yet such advancements have necessitated developments in visualization and reporting tools than can render all the products of analytics—measurement, analysis, insight, and planning—consumable by all users.

As data gets bigger and infrastructure to manage it all more complex, HR leaders will manage these methods to assure that analytics remains focused on delivering results, and not more processes.

Appirio will be at Convergence EMEA, taking place at the Hilton London Metropole September 17-18. Join us at Cornerstone OnDemand’s 5th Annual client and partner conference, and connect with more than 500 of Cornerstone’s clients, partners, and employees. Neil Jensen, Appirio’s Practice Lead on HCM Strategy, will lead session that includes a case study of leveraging HR technologies to help businesses achieve competitive advantage. Registration is open at the Convergence EMEA website.


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