February 21, 2017

HR and IT combine efforts on workforce analytics

Human resources is, by definition, all about managing people — historically considered the softer side of business. But companies are increasingly tying staffing decisions directly to specific business problems, strategies and goals, an approach popularized in part by tech companies such as Google. And to do that, they need data — lots of data.

Enter workforce analytics systems. These applications mix HR data with information from sales, finance and other business operations to create reports and forecasts that C-suite executives can use to, for example, determine the best way to allocate funds for compensation, nip increases in turnover or figure out why sales reps in one office close deals twice as often as others.

But for workforce analytics to do what it’s supposed to, HR professionals have to collaborate with colleagues from other parts of the business, including IT. It’s unusual for organizations to start an analytics program without IT’s help, because the many HR systems involved can make it a complicated undertaking.

Some HR groups team up with representatives from IT on workforce analytics projects; others have internal IT staff. “In either case, you need IT people to help you. I don’t think that’ll ever go away,” says Josh Bersin, an HR technology expert, and principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a division of Deloitte.

But things can get tricky. HR hasn’t completely overcome the stereotype that its people aren’t good with numbers. That’s a misperception that can lead IT and other departments to discredit data that originates in HR and, as a result, downplay efforts to launch workforce analytics initiatives.

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