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Workforce Analytics: Two Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Jumping Into SuccessFactors Reporting

swimming.jpgI recently attended a two-day SuccessFactors VIP Event at Allstate for customers interested in reporting and analytics.If you haven’t had a chance to attend one of these events, I highly recommend it – it is a great opportunity to learn more about the SuccessFactors suite of products, hear what other customers are doing, and network with peers.

During the two days, I had the opportunity to talk with customers from many different industries, company sizes, and locations. The two most common questions that I heard over and over again were:

  1. Both of these questions seem relatively straightforward and uncomplicated on the surface, but I found myself saying “it depends” quite a bit. Let’s start with the first question to give you some background on why I say that.Which reporting tool or report should I use?
  2. How do I know that I’m measuring the right things?

Which reporting tool or report should I use?

If you’re a SuccessFactors customer, you have many “standard” or “out of the box” options available to help you get started, but often that’s not enough. You also have many options to create your own reports and analytics using SuccessFactors tools, but that can be overwhelming, too, because there is a lot to choose from and they all do very different things. So before you start creating anything, I recommend answering these simple questions:

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. Why do they need this data?
  3. What are they going to do with this data? What is the business need?
  4. How often do they need this data?
  5. How will they get access to this data?

The answers to these questions will inform the design and delivery of your reports – you’ve basically made the decisions about what you report on, how you get started and what tools you should use.

Often, as data analysts/report writers, we get pigeonholed into creating what we’ve previously created instead of focusing on the business needs for the data and analysis. If we ask these simple questions first, then getting started becomes easier because we know what we need to create. After deciding what we need to create and why, we can come back to the bigger question of which reporting tool we should use. Most frequently, the answer is a standard or out of the box report that can be tweaked in a direction that aligns with our organization’s needs.

Now onto the second question.

How do I know that I’m measuring the right things?

This question should be considered early on when making talent management decisions. Reporting and analytics should be an integral part of any new process or change in process discussions that are occurring in your organization. Knowing your business strategy, how it connects to this new process/technology, and ultimately what you need to measure will ensure success. As I mentioned before, it sounds simple on the surface, but it takes a lot of time and energy to get it right.

While I was speaking with customers, I happened to share the story of an organization that I had worked with to help them identify what they needed to measure. I’ll call them Organization Alpha for my story below.

Organization Alpha was a utilities company and the business strategy was they needed to grow revenue by 10% over the next 5 years. They weren’t planning to move into any new customer markets and they were not planning to increase customers, so how were they planning to grow revenue? The strategy was relatively simple: move to smart meter technologies. This meant there would be a decrease in the number of workers needed to go out to homes and check meters, and an increase in skill level for the current workforce. Also part of the strategy was to hire a number of new workers to read the smart meters from a centralized location. Key items for measurement for this company over the 5 years included:

  • How many employees were provided a severance package? What was the overall cost of that severance package?
  • How long did it take to reskill the employees the organization decided to retain?
  • How did Organization Alpha ensure it was able to accurately track the employees who were being redeployed as well as the ones that were recently brought in? (Job codes/Job families were critical to this)
  • How many employees did the organization need to hire? How quickly could they have them ready for their new jobs?
  • Did the organization manage to grow revenue by 10% over 5 years?

There were many more questions that ultimately concerned this customer, but being able to identify the key questions and how they impacted the business strategy ensured the organization knew it was measuring the right things.

So again, when I say “it depends,” it really does mean you have to understand your organization, your business strategy and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you know those, then the rest falls into place and we can help you anywhere along the journey.

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Read our other posts on workforce analytics.

Jamie Strnisha

Jamie Strnisha is a consultant with the Workforce Analytics practice.

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