The triangle of accuracy in HR analytics
As a strategic partner to management, the information and insights HR offers are a crucial part of performance planning across the business.
Brendon Gass, CEO of SmartHR, a popular South African HRMS, says that modern HR departments are therefore under pressure to make sure their data is relevant, complete, compliant and actionable. “Above all, it must be accurate, so that HR analytics can empower workforce managers to make game-changing decisions.”
To ensure the highest accuracy, Gass suggests a balanced triangle of complementary forces: right strategy, faithful processes and meaningful presentation.
The foundation for accurate HR analytics is a sound strategy that is designed, planned and built around its organisation’s intelligence requirements. “If analytics don’t align with corporate goals from the start,” says Gass, “they are inherently inaccurate. It’s important that HR collaborates with the rest of management to discover their needs and devise metrics by which to gauge their success.”
Those KPIs should precisely depict the highest state of performance the company can reasonably achieve with the resources at its disposal. From these high-level metrics, HR can determine what data will be needed, how it will be cleansed and validated, to what level it will be summarised, and how far users can drill down into its details.
But right strategy is meaningless without data management processes to back it up
Adherence to the processes by which HR data is captured, validated, stored, relayed and consolidated has an unquestionable influence on its accuracy.
Says Gass, “HR can reduce human error by minimising the amount of data capture performed by people and by simplifying procedures and workflows by which it is processed.” This can be readily achieved by automating time-consuming validation, cross-checking, approvals and more.
Employee self-service functionality built into an HRMS prevents time delays or context gaps between actual events and information recording, a common cause of errors. This can include mobile functionality for roaming staff or kiosks for blue collar workers, to provide on-the-spot data logging.
While faithful processes are as vital as right strategy, both are rendered ineffective by flawed presentation.
With two sides of the triangle in place, the last leg ensures that the meaning of HR data is easily interpreted. When misunderstood information is acted on, the wrong outcomes are inevitable.
Coming full circle, we return to the metrics by which success is to be measured. That set of measurements will differ according to the needs of each company. So their presentation, whether graphical or textual, should be focused, simple, and conveniently available at the point of decision.
“Not only reports but also data analysis tools should be kept at management’s fingertips to maximise the insight they can achieve at a moment’s notice,” advises Gass.
Further, managers expect to be able to customise presentation on HR dashboards, views and reports to meet their personal intelligence needs.
The best HRIS solutions allow action to be taken directly from the insights gained.
Many analytics tools offer a “wow factor” through impressive visualisations. But if the underlying data isn’t accurate, the insights gained, decisions made and actions taken will be ineffective.
“By strengthening the analytics triangle of accuracy,” concludes Gass, “HR can provide high-quality information and assure management that its strategic decisions will have maximum impact.”