In September 2011, I joined the Ceridian US team as its new vice president of Marketing Strategy and Industry Analyst Relations. My additional responsibilities include leading Ceridian's Dayforce Workforce Management marketing, customer advisory boards and customer satisfaction measurement activities. 

HR Thought Leader: Jayson Saba

jayson-saba.jpgIn September 2011, I joined the Ceridian US team as its new vice president of Marketing Strategy and Industry Analyst Relations. My additional responsibilities include leading Ceridian's Dayforce Workforce Management marketing, customer advisory boards and customer satisfaction measurement activities.

I most recently served as the lead research analyst for Workforce Management and Core HR within the HCM practice at Aberdeen Group. Previous to Aberdeen, I helped launch a major self-service suite of employee benefits tools and retirement management solutions at Fidelity. And like most analysts, I had the opportunity to write many research papers -- almost a hundred including a few that were coauthored. I also have also contributed to several leading industry publications including the Economist, Talent Management magazine, Workforce Management magazine, and HRO Today. Thank you all for the opportunity and the privilege. Now that the formalities (a.k.a street creds) are out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.

Recently, I authored research reports that highlighted best-in-class practices in the areas of scheduling, timekeeping and analytics. During the last few months at Aberdeen leading up to my new role at Ceridian, I received numerous inquiries regarding the use of analytics/business intelligence tools in human capital management. Analytics specifically impact workforce management. These tools effectively optimize the deployment of our people in a way that drives business outcomes without killing the payroll budget.

First, for the purposes of this post, I want to define analytics as the tools used in finding, retrieving and analyzing workforce data in a way that enables decision-makers to make more intelligent business decisions. The first emphasis here is on business because measuring for the sake of measuring will not take you too far without being able to correlate it to business performance. The second emphasis is on data. Companies must ensure that this data is up to date and that it can be accessed real time. Aberdeen's data shows that organizations that currently integrate business data with workforce management data are three times as likely as others to achieve best-in-class performance in overall human capital management. Research has also shown that using analytics in workforce management (scheduling, timekeeping and task management) yields significant gains including 20 percent reduction in unbudgeted overtime, 13 percent better capacity utilization and twice the improvement in customer satisfaction.

Nonetheless, companies must adopt some organizational best practices and process capabilities to ensure effective use of analytics: 

  • Have one source of truth. This is one of the biggest challenges that companies face today when it comes to using business intelligence tools. Some organizations have several HR information systems or ERPs and accessing simple headcount and payroll data can be monumental. Whether it's establishing one system of record or implementing tools that can retrieve the data from multiple sources, it is critical to know where the most current data resides.
  • Work with the business. Collaborating with operational units ensures that companies are measuring the metrics that correspond to business pain points. Defining these metrics upfront not only helps companies identify areas (problems) that impact these indicators (symptoms), but it also enables stakeholders to defend these initiatives by giving HR the ability to show that what's being measured is what the business agreed to. Whether it is absenteeism, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, overtime costs or other issues, the business is continuously being tasked with improving one or more of these metrics.
  • Establish accountability. In order to ensure that the output of these tools is usable, companies must ensure that operational managers on the front end are validating the data input. One way to do so is to get buy-in from the executive levels and communicate that if these stakeholders "can't see it, then it won't be recognized" so to speak.
  • Empower the managers. Once the tools are built, train decision makers on how to use them. Providing self-service access to these dashboards will help relieve HR of the tactical burden associated with performing these tasks. It's important, however, to take into consideration privacy and security permissions when granting such access.

As with any tool, effectiveness relies on the people, process and data. Wrapping an investment in analytics with the right capabilities can yield unquestionable gains in the area of workforce management and further enable alignment of people strategy with business goals.

Interested in connecting with me? Follow me on Twitter @jaysonsaba or connect on LinkedIn.