Two models of reporting and analytics dominate HR departments these days. The first in a devolved approach – individual HR managers, or functional teams are responsible for their own reporting. The other is less common, a central HR reporting team.
Whilst the adoption of the second can quickly slip to the former if speed, availability and quality aren’t addressed it probably is the most suitable model. It fits well into a general Ulrich-type model of business-aligned generalists and central specialist functions. Done well it reduces infrastructure needs and training costs.
Reporting is one of those activities that always takes more time than management assumes and the fact that, especially in the devolved model time allocated to it is hidden suggests that it costs far more than expected. Furthermore, put in a well-designed charging model and much activity which is inessential is reduced.
When doing a reporting assessment one of the things we try and quantify / cost is the resource cost that a client is using to produce reporting or analytics. Typically these are people being taken off activities where they can produce more value.
Driving more efficient reporting and analytics
Centralizing reporting and analytics leads to economies of scale. The first stage is often achieved by identifying and removing duplicated activities.
Centralization also enables more highly-skilled teams who can use their expertise to reduce time-needed to complete an activity. This is often done at the same time as enabling technology to be used in a more effective manner.
Whilst some analytics and reporting can be pre-packaged into simple-to-use tools most firms find they need customization to meet their own needs. As their appetite, and the demands of the business increases off-the-shelf solutions fit less and less of their needs. Unfortunately the tools that are needed to create really great analytics require quite specialized skill-sets to get the most out of. These skills are not usually found in HR departments.
Finally with the newer, higher skills and more capable technology then automation becomes possible to further reduce cost and time. For one client we have developed reporting for their global employee opinion survey which enables us to produce a set of country and department specific presentations within hours of the survey closing. In other instances we can automatically produce and email weekly updates to specified generalists based on their functions.
In many ways the steps that we recommend taking follows the path that industrialization has taken in most areas. How do you get there? There are two possible tracks. First is to build yourself a central function, recruit the needed skills (IT, statistics, operational research, information design, business analysts), invest in the technology and the associated training.
The alternative path is one which OrganizationView is pioneering: outsource reporting and analytics to someone who can bring an existing team and infrastructure. We can implement a centralized team in a short timescale enabling you to reduce time and cost quickly and effectively.