I have recently met Jonathan Ferrar former VP at IBM Smarter Workforce. Jonathan established HR Analytics within IBM, over 300,000 employees prior to becoming a thought leader and independent consultant.. He is also one of the top 50 influential leaders in HR Analytics. I asked him what HR professionals should you pay attention to when it comes to rolling out a HR analytics project and what typical pitfalls he sees.
“Create a culture where workforce analytics is considered a positive, essential element of the business.”
There are four core things that HR professionals really should focus on, in no particular order, these things are:
1. Focus on what the analytical roles are encased within the organization.
If you cannot describe those—the people, the roles, the skills you need, then it is going to be hard to do anything. There has been a lot written about the emerging role of the data scientist, those people that can do typical analytical analysis, understand data, recognize strengths and weaknesses, the different analytical methodology would apply to the appropriate. Having those skills is essential in the organization. But that is just one role, you might want the next person to be an expert in IT, you might want someone who is an expert in purely in statistics. You might want someone who is an expert HR professional that can understand the business, people issues. You might want a business consultant. Start with analytical role capabilities.
2. Secondly, data and technology is important and it is important to focus on those data skills and systems that are going to contribute to the most valuable analytical exercises.
Do not try and go to data nirvana, but understand the data sources you have got. Start with those you have got, and focus on the tools and technology that are going to provide you with that data. At the end of the day, Analytics is all about the data you have got, and how you get the data you need. Once you know what business problem you are trying to solve, start with the data you have got, start with the systems and focus on delivering quick wins from the data you have at hand.
3. The third is focus on security and privacy.
People data is a very sensitive topic. Therefore it is important to understand that you have adequate security protocols in place, privacy is understood, and various work councils are engaged. Make sure what you are doing in workforce analytics is open to the organization. What I mean by that is make sure it is transparent what you are doing, make sure your role is transparent, that analytics is taking place, that you have the right protocols in place. Know your capabilities, responsibilities, data technology, security and privacy.
4. And then the most important –the aspect of culture.
Create a culture where workforce analytics is considered a positive, essential element of the business. Communicate the vision why you are doing it. Engage the support of executive sponsorship, embedding the processes of analytics and the mindset around solving business problems in the HR function and in the business processes. From a pitfalls point of view, I’ve talked about some of them before. But if I was to give one—do not try and create data nirvana, this perfect set of data, before you do anything. You will never have a perfect set of data. It does not exist. There is always something new that you can bring to that data set.