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HR Data Management – Your Key to a Successful HCM Program and Analytics Strategy

Posted on: 24 May '11
Robert Finnis
Program Manager, Data and Analytic Services

Having an employee data plan relieves the pain many HR organizations are experiencing today around consistent reporting, regulatory compliance, implementing Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

It’s also a prerequisite for implementing a successful HR Data Analytics program.

Traditionally one might think “data” ownership falls exclusively under the auspices of the companies IT organization. Having worked with IT leaders for a number of years in both Financial and HR organizations I can say without hesitation – IT does not own the data. Simply put, IT’s role is that of a highly skilled Data Custodian. No disrespect intended to my friends in IT. They provide us with the highly skilled workers responsible for the storage, security, archiving, and making data available for use in a timely manner to all departments in the business.

HR in this case is the owner or steward of all employee data. As such, HR has the primary responsibility for ensuring appropriate oversight and integration of the data within their department and all its domains (i.e. HRMS, Workforce Management, Recruiting, Talent management, Learning, Compensation &Benefits).

In their book “Competing on Analytics” Thomas Davenport and Jeanne Harris call “Analytic Competitors” as the companies with the skills and support needed to use data effectively.

Strategic minded HR leaders must partner with their IT providers, both internal and outsourced, to leve-rage all the resources, tools and technologies needed to deliver HR services globally and HR strategy to the Leadership team. They must provide the resources and leadership needed to manage the following activities:

Data Mapping: For the newly enlightened, this can be the most challenging part of the data management process, requiring between 60 to 80% of the data management effort. But it delivers the highest ROI. A decade plus of industry consolidation followed by mergers and acquisitions have left a significant number of HR organizations managing employee data in multiple legacy and/or vendor systems, in various formats and an assortment of different databases. Many clients claim they underestimated this effort and the cost associated with getting it done. Forcing many to address their outstanding data problems with footnotes and asterisks in the companies staffing reports and marginalizing HR’s strategic value to the business.

Data quality: This is paramount for any HR data management system, as the value and integrity of any analysis or insight derived from the data depends on it. No strategic value can be assigned if the support-ing data is not cleansed and validated according to defined business rules. Today’s HR managers must develop both their knowledge and data management skills to effectively work with IT partners to create the business processes and procedures required to optimize tools like an “HR data dictionary”. This tool not only helps with data quality but ensures consistency in the terminology of the data between various domains and their respective vendor applications. For example, a simple description or abbreviation can have multiple meanings to separate vendors. Consider the wide variety of different pay types: Vendor A might think the abbreviation BP stands for base pay, while vendor B defines BP as bonus pay.

Data governance: Make sure someone in the HR organization is in charge of the way data is handled and prioritized, either through a committee, or by a designated “data owner or chief steward” assigned to resolve the data issues and has the responsibility for the reliability, availability and utilization of data throughout all the HR domains.

HR data will continue to be migrated to distributed vendor platforms with no end in sight. This trend makes creating and maintaining your companies HR employee data plan a business imperative. Regretta-bly, as the ailing global economy drags into year three we find many HR organizations dealing with a reduced workforce. Fortunately companies that may be struggling to catch up or with limited resources can partner with an experienced consulting firm who has the right combination of HR consulting resources, data management skills, and infrastructure to economically plan, design, map, extract, and load their data to create an in-house or SaaS solution, to support all their HR data needs.

MindTree is one of the few companies that bring domain, functional tools, and statistical expertise all under one roof. We are in the business of helping companies turn Data into Information and Information into Knowledge.

MindTree believes that organizations need to follow a three-step evaluation process:

  1. Data Strategy, where will data reside, what format will it be in, how is it validated and enhanced, and how can it be potentially monetized
  2. Business Intelligence, how can companies slice and dice the data and generate reports
  3. Analytics, how can companies extract their employee data, analyze employee skills, performance trends, uncover leadership candidates and staff to emerging markets

Most companies fail to add the third step (Analytics) to their employee data management strategy initiatives.

Our philosophy: Data Strategy + Business Intelligence + Analytics = Knowledge.

Are you getting the most out of your HR data?

Robert Finnis

Bob brings in 20 years of experience in Human Resources Information Systems and HR Consulting. His functioning area includes Project and Client lead for HR Analytics, Reporting, and HR Consulting with Mindtree - Data & Analytic Services. He has prior experience as Regional HRIS Director responsible for Employment Center, Learning, Benefits, Payroll, Pension and related services. His professional experience has seen him implement lead client HR Analytics and related consulting work for Fortune 1000 clients, as well as deliver advanced HCM data visualization tools and strategies to companies like PepsiCo, AIG, Arrow Electronics, P&G on Analytics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for areas such as Recruitment, Compensation, Performance Management, Promotion and Succession Planning, Attrition and Retention, Employee Segmentation, International Service Employees, etc. His ability to think strategically, manage globally and act tactically sees him as a primary interface with senior management, project sponsors, stakeholders and vendors. His article "HR Metrics: why they need to be used now" was published in the November 2010 edition of HR Magazine UK.

  • Canny Informatics

    All the covered points are very correct to implement effective Decision making system in Human Resource (HR).
    From the Data Mapping or Data Quality point of view it is also possible when transnational system might have been implemented long back and not upgraded with time.
    We at the Canny Informatics solve the same problem for one of the top 5 pharmaceutical organization in India where in organization structure needed automation in data mapping/quality while generating monthly MIS.
    – Gaurang Acharya