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Putting Analytics to Work

May 30, 2003
Related Topics: Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS/HRIS), Strategic Planning, Featured Article
Marcia Barkley, president of MBarkley Consulting in Sacramento, California,believes that workforce analytics will change the face of the organization. Here’sher take on what companies should be looking at and how they can navigate thisnew frontier.

Workforce: What is the driving force behind workforce analytics?

Barkley: Analytics has been around for some time within finance, customerrelationship management, and other areas. It has a proven track record. But ithas only been within the last couple of years that the area of HR and humancapital has begun to receive attention. It’s a softarea, so many people haven’t tried to tackle it. But as vendorssuch as PeopleSoft, Oracle, SAP, and others have introduced applications, exposure and acceptance is growing.

WF: Which organizations should use workforce analytics?

Barkley: HR-related metrics can provide significant value to anyorganization. The more accurate questions are: who can afford it--the softwareis still relatively expensive--and who’s ready to implement it. The realityis that implementation tends to be more complex andtime-consuming than for many other applications. That’s not becausethe software is inherently more complex or difficult to install. It’s becausein order to make best use of that software, an organization must pull togetherdata from many different sources. That translates into identifying data sources,data inconsistencies, and so forth.

WF: What are the key benefits of these applications?

Barkley: Organizations have an opportunity to transform basic data intointelligence and knowledge. They can find new ways to analyze business issuesand make better decisions--based on specific goals and objectives.

WF: What is the leading use for workforce analytics?

Barkley: Much of the focus is on compensation. These applications canindicate the actual impact of pay increases by showing therelationship with employee performance. They can help acompany model how different changes in incentive and benefits could affectproductivity among different employee segments. Another question this softwarecan help answer is, Do the employees in the top quartile of the salary rangeproduce proportionally more than those paid in the middle or bottomof the range?

WF: What factors go into choosing a vendor and product?

Barkley: ERP vendors offer products that are most valuable for companies already using their applications. Integration can be relativelysimple and, as a result, less expensive. However,companies that have disparate data sitting in an array ofsystems will probably require a product that can bridge all the differentenvironments.

WF: What is the future of workforce analytics?

Barkley: It is an inevitable part of the HR business. Unless HR departmentsface this fact and understand and embrace the change that comes with it, someother group within the organization will take the reins and gain the resultinginfluence and power. This is a way for HR to get a seat at the boardroom table.

Workforce, June 2003, p. 15 -- Subscribe Now!

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