Building a workforce analytics function: The first 100 days

Smarter_Workforce_AvatarAs highlighted in the IBM Business Tech Trends study, the use of analytics is a key differentiating factor for leading businesses. With the huge quantity of people data in many organizations, the HR function could be at the forefront of realizing the benefits of this strategic capability, but many HR executives indicate they don’t know where to start.

Leading analyst Josh Bersin recently pointed out that HR is sitting on a large amount of untapped data but is only just starting to get its act together. According to “Inside the mind of Generation D,” a study of how organizations are using data and analytics, HR is currently one of the lowest ranked functions in terms of benefitting from analytics. Our own data also supports this point: a recent IBM Smarter Workforce Institute and Institute for Business Value report found that “less than 20 percent of organizations are able to apply predictive analytics to address important people issues.”

So, how can HR realize the huge benefits analytics offers?

Pulling together advice from dozens of experts in the area of workforce analytics, the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute just published a practical guide to building an analytically enabled HR function, with step-by-step recommendations for the first 100 days. Here are the highlights:

Phase I (first 30 days) – Setting your direction

  • Develop a vision that links people issues to business success
  • Be clear about the scope of analytics in your organization – for greater impact, emphasize advanced analytics, such as predictive capability – and identify a project that will deliver a quick win to demonstrate early success
  • Understand the cultural and legal perspectives on data privacy in your region
  • Identify executive stakeholders and understand their key business challenges

Phase II (30-60 days) – Defining your approach

  • Identify available data that can be analyzed to address business challenges
  • Do not wait for perfect data, but do rely on subject matter experts to assess data quality
  • Agree on procedures for accessing data and select the appropriate tools for analyzing the data
  • Consider the benefits of cloud technologies for delivering analytics software as a service and minimizing capital expenditures


Phase III (60-90 days) – Growing your capability

  • Ensure the HR analytics team has a balance of skills – HR expertise and business savvy, in addition to technical data and analytical skills
  • Complete a business case and think about the analytics function as an internal consultancy
  • Link analytics work to business outcomes
  • Spread the word about your analytics projects and the insights generated

The ongoing journey (Day 90 to 100 and beyond) – Implement!

  • Analyze the links between the different identified data sources
  • Guide the development of analytical models to link HR practices to workforce outcomes and, ultimately, business outcomes
  • Ensure that actions are taken based on insights delivered from workforce analytics
  • Evaluate the impact of interventions undertaken as a result of insights from workforce analytics

We are facing the “perfect storm” for workforce analytics. New cost-effective technologies, predictive capabilities, access to data and the desire for clearer links to business outcomes are coming together to create the ideal opportunity for HR to realize the benefits of analytics.

And the journey to workforce analytics success, the first 100 days and beyond, starts now …

Related information:

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