Data Driven HR starts with…wait for it…measuring data!

In the past few years, after being involved in about a dozen HR technology projects, I can say one thing with certainty, I am yet to meet a 100% data driven HR function.

I am going to start by making clear, THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT verbal HR admonishing, but ABOUT making the HR function more VALUABLE and WANTED in the organisation. It is also ABOUT proving HR Technology business cases are easier to justify. And when HR is more valued, they not just have a seat at the table, they are invited to have the best seat at the table.


So how does it all begin…3 simple steps!

  1.  Documented processes (with technologies used) with volumes, speed, people involved (suppliers and customers), inputs and outputs (popularly referred to as SIPOC diagram): This shouldn’t be a surprise but in case it is, this is where HR needs to begin. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a business analyst or the right software and skills or loads of consultants giving you bench-marking data on how your peers do it. While all of the above does make the process quicker or easier or both, an easy way to start is with some butcher paper, some sticky notes and pens and of course HR folk. Once business processes are mapped and written, it can easily go into a MS Word flowchart or any free mapping software. The idea is simple, once business and HR know how things are done, who does it, how long it takes, what goes in and out of each step, and how many times the whole process is repeated, it is easy to calculate the following:
    • how long everything takes,
    • what HR processes cost to the company and
    • what can be saved by using technology.
  2.  Technology inventory, costs and ownership: This has to be one of the easiest step that HR functions can do right now and should not require hiring of any consultants or resources. Creating a simple table (or diagram or map) of what HR technologies are currently in use, what do they cost to the HR function and the organisation and hence who owns them. There is no other way to say it, if you don’t have this, don’t waste your time going to meetings with consultants or even internal stakeholders like ICT, Finance and end-users. For these stakeholders to take on the quest for new technologies seriously, this is the bare minimum. You can learn more about the type of costs involved in calculating the Total Cost of Ownership (commonly referred to as TCO) here. Some great resources including templates are available through ZDNET and Matt H. Evans website.
  3.  People costs: Last but not the least, at least 75% of most businesses costs are to do with people. So inputting that information into your process inventory along with the costs of the people executing each step should be easy. This will tell the company exactly how much each HR process costs and what the maintenance cost is. As HR this should not be a foreign concept. The challenge usually is having the processes documented in the first place which goes back to Step 1 above!

All the above steps lead to clearly measuring people, process and technology data which paves the way for making data driven decisions.

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