Data-Driven HR And Strategic Alignment

Ananya Huria

If your HR organization is like many today, your team takes seriously the imperative to improve performance through data analysis and insight. From recruiting and screening new staff to resource management and policy administration, HR uses data to make decisions and plan its way forward.

Indeed, HR organizations are increasingly sophisticated in how they leverage data to optimize workforce processes and engage employees. Your own HR team may use dashboards to track workforce-related KPIs – or even machine learning to detect patterns in the data and tease out insights.

Yet for all the data sophistication of today’s HR organizations, one issue stands in the way.

The problem of business silos

HR is a horizontal business unit – one that spans the entire business. Ideally, you want visibility into all lines of business (LoBs) to understand workforce requirements and respond effectively in a way that drives business strategy.

When HR operates within its own silo, it is difficult for its planning assumptions to make their way out to the rest of the business. When other LoBs run in silos, it’s difficult for HR to make plans based on what’s really happening on the ground.

Silos, of course, are not built intentionally. They tend to develop as people within a line of business share data internally, typically in the form of spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are unwieldy, individualistic tools that are difficult to control. They proliferate across teams and morph into different versions of reality. Time is spent fumbling with data, and meetings are focused, far too often, on arguing over which numbers are the right numbers.

Consolidation on a single platform

What’s needed is a unified platform that consolidates data into a single source of truth. This can give HR visibility across finance, R&D, marketing, sales, operations, supply chain, customer service, and more. This platform should focus on the following:

  • Seamless access: When enterprise data is consolidated on a single platform across business units, you can manage administrative rights programmatically – giving HR people secure access to the data they need without the hassles associated with siloed data stores.
  • Automated data management: When HR wants to work with the data from, say, the supply chain group, gone are the data preparation chores. No more joining tables to create new views. Transformations are automated. Data is available on demand.
  • Analytics on demand: With a platform that supports robust analytics, HR people can run simulations that show the consequences of decisions and actions, enabling HR to act as a partner and adviser to the business. And with embedded artificial intelligence and machine learning, HR can interrogate large data sets to uncover patterns in the data and reveal insights.
  • Real-time reporting and dashboards: With all data streaming into a centralized point, powerful HR dashboards that track KPIs in real time become possible. When integrated into the backend systems from which the underlying data is drawn, HR people can also drill down to investigate issues and discover new insights.
  • Better planning: Consolidation on a single platform allows for collaborative enterprise planning where silos are broken down, allowing HR to understand what other LoBs are doing and to plan accordingly – all in the interest of corporate strategy.

Real-world data visibility and strategic alignment

The level of visibility and insight described here is not simply an aspiration. Leading companies are realizing it right now.

Here’s an example. One SAP customer, before consolidating on a single platform and without a single view of the business across HR, financials, supply chain, and R&D, had limited ability to execute strategies at the enterprise level. Now, the company can harmonize its data in a single view. Executives have a digital boardroom with KPIs relevant to enterprise strategy that update in real time. This facilitates fast and effective collaboration, enabling managers to generate insights sooner and make decisions quicker.

This company is not alone. Many forward-thinking enterprises across a wide range of industries are realizing their intelligent enterprise goals by improving data connectedness and consolidating their view into data in a standardized way that drives a single source of truth.

Want to experience the human revolution first-hand? For more information on how you can use people analytics software from SAP to more effectively manage your total workforce, read the gold guide or try the SAP Analytics Cloud solution free for 30 days.

For more on this topic, please read Three Keys To Collaborative Enterprise Planning for HR on the Digitalist.

Ananya Huria

About Ananya Huria

Ananya Huria is part of the Global Product Marketing team for SAP Analytics. In 2018, she co-founded Current Mindfulness, a platform designed to integrate mindfulness into today’s corporate culture. Her passion lies in branding and producing content for digital products. She has a master's degree in digital media with global experience, having worked in London, Dubai, and the U.S. She is currently based in Vancouver, Canada.