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Businesses' fascination with having lots of “big data” has caused them to overlook the more powerful “small data,” which focusing on using HR data to make wise, strategic talent decisions. Gain insight into how to make strategic decisions using “small data.”   



Beyond Big Data: 4 Steps to Small Data Success

While the business world is abuzz with "big data," gathering data from multiple sources is only the first step of the analytics process. More important than aggregating data is using the information to make informed business decisions.

Our fascination with having lots of “big data” has caused us to overlook the more powerful “small data,” which focusing on using HR data to make wise, strategic talent decisions.

Data, data everywhere

While big data focuses on gathering as much data as possible, the truth is that the majority of the reports often go unread and the information unused. This is due to the fact that most of the time there’s no real strategy around the metrics being measured.

Small data, on the other hand, focuses on using insights from data to guide HR strategies. With the use of cloud-based HCM systems, companies can aggregate HR and business data to identify people trends and use this information to make informed business decisions.

“To be successful, analytics programs must be developed in collaboration with the C-suite. They must reflect the overarching goals that drive, and issues that affect, an organization’s performance. Building data programs based on this broader perspective lets HR professionals, business leaders and management make informed, faster, data-driven decisions on any issue that affects a company’s workforce,” said Susan Gartner, senior product manager of talent acquisition at Ceridian.

4 simple steps to small data success

Big data is just the first step of analytics. The true power of data is using "smal data" to make strategic decisions.





Small data can be particularly useful in helping organizations effectively manage their workforce. Referred to as people analytics, people-related data improves and positively influences management, business and HR decisions throughout the entire company. As a budding practice that shows great promise, companies are using people analytics to maximize employee engagement, retention, and recruiting.

“If you don’t have systems of measurement set up, it’s very difficult to understand and manage the issues that impact your business. The good news is that getting started doesn’t have to be overly complicated – you can do it with a simple framework,” said Greg Trok, vice president of consulting services at Ceridian.

Step 1: Start with good data

Good analytics start with good data. Begin by developing a process for good data collection:

  1. Determine the information you need and develop processes for capturing it quickly.
  2. Eliminate inconsistencies whenever possible by using a standard format for information like employee titles, addresses and hire dates.
  3. Develop a single source of truth for your data so that all reports are pulled from one centralized location rather than from multiple platforms.

Step 2: Choose key HR metrics to track

Avoid analysis paralysis by focusing on quick wins; i.e. HR metrics like employee turnover that are relatively easy to track and analyze. Talk to stakeholders who will benefit from this data tracking and analysis. What factors do they think influence this metric? What are the challenges associated with the data? How would success be measured? This step will help you determine the big picture, which may reveal other issues that need to be addressed.

Step 3: Connect HR data to broader business goals

Train managers and HR professionals to verify their “gut” feelings with data so that decisions are based on rational thinking, not just hunches. Ensure that every HR initiative is directly linked to an organization goal and a desirable business result. Using HR data to address broader business goals will go a long way toward building the case for investment in analytics.

Step 4: Create an analytics action plan

A variety of cloud-based software solutions, like Dayforce HCM, are available to provide highly configurable, robust analytics and reporting capabilities. Prioritize your data initiatives and focus on analytics that will demonstrate tangible value. If your top analytic is expensive to track, start with smaller yet meaningful goals and expand the program as you achieve success and build credibility.

With a strategic approach to analytics, your department can quantify the value of your talent decisions. This insight will help your organization not only recruit the best talent but keep them with your organization for a long time to come.