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Using data wisely can help you gain valuable insight into your people

July 8, 2013

By Dror Orbach

Does your company collect HR data and metrics? Do you know what to do with it once you have it? And most importantly, are the right people seeing it? In their SAP Insider article entitled “Move from HR Data Collection to Real Insights About Your People” (, Jean-Bernard Rolland and Kouros Behzad stress that, far too often, the HR department within organizations cannot easily access and interpret employee data across the enterprise, leaving crucial HR metrics often unseen by the very executives who have the most power to act on them.

HR departments are rarely actually short on data, thanks in part to the fact that many companies have invested heavily in improving and automating HR operations. According to the authors, decades of data is often collected around areas like employee performance, turnover and staffing levels. All of this data may reside in the company’s systems, but HR has traditionally lacked the user-friendly solutions to easily access the information and provide executive-level analysis or insights.

The article points out that too much data is rarely seen as a bad thing, but it can be wasted if it is not used, analyzed or viewed effectively. This is where advanced analytics software, tools and expertise can help SAP customers uncover the value of HR. If executives are given this information, it can help them make informed, strategic business decisions more quickly. Three key trends to establish advanced analytics capabilities in HR have recently emerged:

  1. Technology can now pull HR-related data out of disparate databases and systems, making information readily available to managers and executives in a visual, intuitive display.
  2. Many companies have already optimized their core HR processes as much as they can, and therefore require better insights and analytics to make the next step forward in HR effectiveness.
  3. The global economic crisis has fueled the demand for stronger HR analytics to support more efficient execution of the HR strategies that are part of the strategic objectives of the organization.

A key point I’d like to add to this is that in my opinion – affordability, processing power and ease of use are the really important elements that have changed. Data warehouses and analytical tools have existed for decades, but they were mostly in reach only for very large enterprises with deep pockets and teams of very highly-skilled (usually PhD-level)  statistical modellers.  The data being analyzed was usually days, if not weeks or months old.  Today’s technology makes it possible to analyze massive amounts of up-to-the-minute data from different sources very quickly without impacting transactional system response times.  Moreover, it allows important performance metrics to be viewed and explored via interactive dashboards and reports, which enable must faster executive decision-making at any time and from any location.

What about your company? Are you getting what you need out of your HR data?

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