Reporting & metrics - are you creating landfill?

landfillLet’s talk about reporting and metrics.

I know we all write reports of various kinds and I also know that many of them are headed for landfill before the ink is dry. Heaven knows, I’ve done my share over the years!

The emerging story of HR and big data is fascinating and worth paying attention to. It is supported by rapid advances in technology and the increasing specialization of HR roles. Josh Bersin has written an excellent article on this topic http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130103145751-131079-ap...

In this blog I look rather at the timeless fundamentals of bringing focused, data driven support to bear in HR partnering. There are two reasons why this topic is important:

Firstly: HR teams are under pressure to add value by directly supporting the achievement of organisational goals.

Secondly: HR teams are under pressure to demonstrate the value of their efforts.

So how can we use reporting and metrics to help HR create value and how can we do it in a way that grabs the customer's attention?

1. Start with the customer.

As with any good professional service provision, we start with the customer. What is the customer trying to do and what are they key issues that face them? By way of illustration, let me use the example of an Information Services group that I supported recently:

The IS group planned to improve efficiency by channelling all customer contact through the service centre, they planned to ensure that the capital delivery teams were sufficiently resourced and growing their capitalization rate and they needed to make sure that they were able to support, but ultimately rationalise, the systems used by the organisation. The HR team wrote these goals down as part of the HR plan for that business unit. This created the focus required for step 2:

2. Identify HR information relevant to the customer’s goals

Working with the IS leaders I looked at a few key topics:

  • Coverage per competency of key systems, looking for systems that were both  critical and under-resourced. This lead to action plans to address shortfalls.
  • Competency sets that were likely to be phased out and the employee relations implications of doing this.
  • Key and critical roles, likelihood of incumbent leaving and risk posed by the loss of incumbents, action plans to mitigate the risk.

I reported on these issues every month to the IS leadership team and they paid close attention because the issues had direct impact on their business objectives.

3. Monitor the radar for the customer

In the background I also kept track of a range of “dashboard” metrics such as staff turnover, staff availability, new starters, employees leaving, employee relations issues, OH&S issues and progress in delivering HR projects for this group. These were only brought to the attention of the customer if they started to be a problem.

Organisations have different levels of HR system capability (in the example above we were working in quite a manual environment). As Josh Bersin points out, technology is moving rapidly forward with the development of cloud solutions and mobile systems. The amount of available information and reporting is growing steadily and it will require data-savvy HR specialists to help managers to identify the important stuff amongst the flood of data.

Some practical implementation issues for HR leaders:

  • Remember to use a consistent reporting and metric format across the organisation. This allows easier consolidation into a corporate view.
  • Where specific measures are used, be explicit about the definitions (even the old basics like "staff turnover" can be open to different interpretations).
  • As far as possible, make the systems provide the numbers, leaving you free to communicate the meaning to your customer.
  • As Josh Bersin points out: expect talent management and workforce planning tools to become more readily available, and look for mobile solutions in the coming year.

Next time we'll have a look at measuring the effectiveness of HR.

Have a good week!

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