Attracting and retaining the best talent is widely recognised to be an important success factor, if not the success factor, when it comes to achieving competitive advantage. “Unfortunately, too many companies continue to rely on poor information when it comes to manage their vital human resources,” says Brendon Gass, Director at SmartHR, a locally developed HR software solution suite.
“Many HR departments still see their primary function as administrative, using spreadsheets to collect employee data—and this is what executives are expected to use when they try to match the talent at their disposal with the execution of their strategies,” says Gass. “However, people are multi-dimensional, and this is information that cannot easily be represented only in rows and columns.”
Spreadsheet data vs relational data
The kind of information that is needed to make important strategic decisions would include drawing from multiple records from leave to performance reports, skills, training and so on. Only then will the executive be able to assess how to marshal his or her resources to advance the business strategy.
There are other disadvantages to managing HR data on spreadsheets. One is that they have to be manually updated, which not only introduces error but is expensive. It’s also never clear how current the information is—and nor is there any way to record changes or to link to supporting documentation. Typically, too, spreadsheets tend to proliferate within the company’s various silos, so employee information is fragmented—obtaining a holistic view of the employee is virtually impossible.
Security is also an issue. HR information is typically highly sensitive, and yet spreadsheets have limited security options.
“It’s the difference between lots of data and smart data,” Gass says.
Kill the spreadsheet, invest in smarter solution
Gass explains that the only way to manage this kind of smart data is to invest in a modern HR system that automates much of the data collection and that can be accessed on all digital platforms, including mobile. “This data is much easier to gather and keep. It reduces costs significantly because it does not require expensive resources to update spreadsheets manually,” he says. “Most important of all, it can be used by powerful analytics software to give executives the quality insights into the workforce they need to make decisions that make sense in both the short and long term.”
“A company’s human capital is expensive to acquire and train, and its success is entirely dependent on employees’ skills and attitude,” Gass concludes. “Without updated, accurate and analysable information about their most critical asset, companies simply cannot make the right strategic decisions.”