HR Analytics Gives Alabama Firm Better Insight - InformationWeek

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6/3/2015
03:26 PM
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HR Analytics Gives Alabama Firm Better Insight

The HR analytics field is getting crowded. Here's how the chief HR officer at an Alabama company chose one solution and gained better insight over the business.

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When it comes to figuring out a company's finances, getting a handle on payroll and employee expenses is critical. That's why getting the analysis of those expenses right is so important.

Cathy Hulsey is chief human resources officer for EPL, Inc., a Birmingham, Ala., software company in business since 1977. EPL, with 76 employees, is a company that would be defined as small-to-medium-sized.

Even so, in a telephone interview with InformationWeek, Hulsey said that getting basic numbers on HR factors was intensely time-consuming. "I had to do it the old-fashioned way: Put everything in the spreadsheet and make sure everything lined up. Sometimes it would take a whole day to get the final numbers."

(Image: geralt via Pixabay)

(Image: geralt via Pixabay)

EPL became a customer of ADP for payroll and HR services in 2013. Hulsey said that she began to look for analytics support and ultimately narrowed her consideration to a pair of options, ADP and a competitor she declined to name. She was offered a chance to look at the ADP analytics suite and accepted the opportunity. When asked about the integration process, Hulsey said, "Adding the analytics was very easy. It was literally a flip of a switch: Once we said 'yes' the dashboard literally just showed up at my log-in."

Analytics around HR has become a more competitive market, largely because it is one business area that has seen the least uptake in previous iterations.

In a November 2014 article at Forbes.com, Josh Bersin wrote that recent research indicated that only 4% of HR departments are using predictive analytics, though it's an issue that more than 60% struggle with. Recent product and service announcements from companies including SAP, Oracle, IBM, Skillsoft, and ADP show that enterprise software vendors have recognized that an opening exists for advanced analytics as part of an enterprise software toolkit.

In most cases, the HR analytics are tied to other modules in an overall enterprise management suite. In ADP's case, the analytics are tied to the services the company offers in payroll and human resources management.

[ The options for HR analytics keep increasing. Read Workday Brings 'Insights' To Talent Management. ]

Hulsey said that using the ADP Datacloud allows for the forward-looking analytics that she needs to have as part of the executive team.

"Right now we're putting together a three-year strategic plan. We're looking at the data going forward -- looking at financials and workforce planning perspectives," she said. Hulsey said that every department in the company wants a higher head-count, but analyzing trends allows her to look at more than simple current and future department sizes. "Aligning personnel with strategic perspectives we can now look at retirement, recruitment, turn-over, total compensation, and other things," she said.

The data analysis isn't restricted to Hulsey's control panel.

"Each manager has access to these analytics through the ADP portal for their team. In, say, network support, you can look at your team members and see the average age, the average earnings, and use the information to see if they're getting the performance and see if there needs to be improvement," she said. "It lets us know whether there are things they need to be working on."

Hulsey also mentioned diversity and employee retention as areas that can be analyzed and corrected through the software's use.

In EPL, Hulsey says that it's not that the analysis couldn't happen before the ADP Datacloud was available, but that now the analysis can happen more quickly and more often. As an executive with "a seat at the table," those objective numbers are critical to her part of the conversation. "It's not that I couldn't do it before, it would just take more time," she said, adding, "I'm fortunate to be at a company that believes HR deserves a seat at the table, but with that comes responsibility. This tool helps me bring evidence to the battle."

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
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Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2015 | 1:29:16 PM
Re: Capital Intensive and Human Capital Intensive
Brian,

Truth be told most Companies don't learn until they make some Miscalculation or the other repeatedly.

Its only when that Happens (and they lose Big Money in the process) do they start acting sensibly and start to take care of their Employees well.

HR can be a Science and can benefit the Company if its done right.

The Issue is how many Corporations do HR Correctly today?
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
7/4/2015 | 10:33:51 PM
Re: Capital Intensive and Human Capital Intensive
@Ashu001, well said. Moving forward into the future, it is one of our biggest challenges to determine whether employees with job security that enables employees to plan long term, will deliver maximum productivity to the organization or no job security and the risks that it entails for individuals will enable employees to push their limits and productivity higher.

And, the corporation has the most to lose by a miscalculation -- create a greater name of stable jobs and the corporation will crumble under its own weight and creating a greater number of unstable jobs will result in their always being a shortage of STEM skills in the labor market.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
7/4/2015 | 1:18:11 PM
Re: Capital Intensive and Human Capital Intensive
Brian,

I particularly loved your initial points here-

For instance, if an organization would like to better understand its revenue then, churn rates are viewed. Similarly, churn rates of employees can play an important role at the cost side because, training new employees be a huge cost for the organization.

So true and so realistic you are!!!


However,in most Large Corporations these rules rarely apply.

They are most Happy to Hire and fire at the Drop of a hat today.

Why is that the case?

The Higher degree of Automation and informality that has creeped into most Management Best Practices and Processes.

Lets say ;someone is'nt performally optimally for the last 2-3 months after being a consistent performer for last 10 years.

Have you tried to determine Why that is the case today?

What is stopping him from performing to the best as he used to before?

Most Large Corporations don't take that trouble today.

Sad but true reality.

 

 
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
7/2/2015 | 12:36:01 AM
Re: Capital Intensive and Human Capital Intensive
@Brian.Dean, I would say it like never ending process... as we evolve with technology in hand... or do technology changing us???
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
6/10/2015 | 8:46:03 AM
Re: Capital Intensive and Human Capital Intensive
@Curt, you mentioned a great trade-off in the business world and I have often wondered whether the fears of executives are completely justified. There is safety in numbers but, the collapse of entire environments does not provide safety as it is the unique business that seems to survive. The Tulip trade and the collapse of the 2008 housing bubble are a few examples. The massive corn industry of the US has a similar trade-off, the seed variety that offers the highest per acre yield also offers the highest per acre profits but, a single variety is more susceptible to disease or a pest attack that could lead to output collapsing. However, executives in the corn industry are handling the trade-offs in an extremely brave fashion as they have research facilities that can fight a disease or pest attack in real-time and underground seed vaults for future requirements. 

Millennials have a steep road to climb. Firstly, because the baby boomers and generation x have generally set the bar pretty high and secondly, because it is becoming extremely difficult to define leisure time from work time. The Wright Brothers main work was bicycle repair and their leisure time was devoted towards creating powered flight -- it's their leisure time activity that changed the world and economy.

Granted, the Wright Brothers example is an extreme case. However, Youtubers that are creating "How to" tutorial videos in their leisure time, etc., are also changing the world and economy, and can be viewed in the same light. 
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
6/9/2015 | 10:44:15 AM
Re: Capital Intensive and Human Capital Intensive
@Brian.Dean, it's very true -- at a certain level of analytics we tend to view all businesses and all employees the same. I think one of the reasons behind this is fear: executives are afraid that, if they treat their business as unique and things don't go swimmingly, they'll be blamed and suffer the consequences. If, on the other hand, they point to "business research" as justification for their actions, they're often shielded from the worst consequences.

In the US we have a number of cultural things working, as well. In general, we distrust leisure time and those who enjoy it -- "Idle hands are the devil's workshop," and all that. When I look at my own history I know there's a point at which I do value time off over a few more dollars in the paycheck and I get the feeling this is even more true for my son's generation. It's going to be interesting, indeed, to see how HR practices change to meet the needs of the millenials.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
6/9/2015 | 10:26:36 AM
Re: Automation tasks
@kstaron, you raise an interesting point, and one that we tend not to talk about in IT: When would it be more cost-effective to go back to the "old fashioned" way of hiring a person to do a task rather than paying a software vendor for the automated solution?

For the last three decades one of the basic justifications for IT spending has been reduced head-count: Is it possible that it would be cheaper to simply pay someone to work with a spreadsheet?

I know that people are expensive but I think this is a great question that's asked far less often than it should be.
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/9/2015 | 9:15:00 AM
Re: Capital Intensive and Human Capital Intensive
@Ashu001 could not agree more interesting... same hope on my end...
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
6/8/2015 | 9:10:14 PM
Re: Capital Intensive and Human Capital Intensive
I completely agree as a method and its related analytical tools are required to be in place before an organization can gain its benefits. For instance, if an organization would like to better understand its revenue then, churn rates are viewed. Similarly, churn rates of employees can play an important role at the cost side because, training new employees be a huge cost for the organization.

Administrations point-of-view is also very important in determining the fashion in which everything plays out. If administrations holds a view that employees have a natural tendency to skip work/productivity then, the tools employed would be vastly different than, if the view is that employees have a natural tendency to excel in work and productivity (Theory X and Theory Y). 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
6/8/2015 | 1:02:03 PM
Re: Capital Intensive and Human Capital Intensive
Curt,

In larger corporations there is no such co-relation(between Happiness and Financial Success) for the simple reason there is a larger degree of Automation involved in them.

For SMBs however the story is different(for a multitude of reasons ) particularly the fact that its often the Owners/founders who themselves are running the show more often than not.

Still this would definitely be another Good Dataset to look at going ahead.

Regards

Ashish.
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