Article: What makes a successful Workforce Analytics program?

Workforce Management System

What makes a successful Workforce Analytics program?

With Workforce Analytics & Predictive data sciences catching the fancy of the CHROs, a successful Workforce Planning and Analytics program needs more than just thought
What makes a successful Workforce Analytics program?

If we want to realize the true impact of our Analytics, we need to put mechanisms and forums in place where we have those decisions taken, actioned and followed up with


While presenting at various conferences, I begin by asking if anyone has heard of, let alone studied a Workforce Planning and Analytics course.  As expected, no one raises their hand. Ask this question to ten Workforce Planners, and you will get ten different answers. Reason: We are in the pioneering days of this field. Data extraction, related technology systems, reporting, dashboards, basic Analytics, statistical predictive modeling, headcount planning, human capital action plans, workforce strategy are all thrown in the mix.  However, lately, Workforce Analytics and Predictive statistical data sciences seem to have caught the fancy of a lot of CHROs’ investments as something to experiment with.

In conversations with stalwart Workforce Analysts, I am truly impressed at their almost heroic endeavors at building some truly “cool” models that predict some people outcomes or provide behavioral correlations. All this, with limited resources and little understanding or appreciation from the rest of the HR community of what it really takes or for that matter, means. At the same time, when I ask the following questions, I have more often than not, found the answers wanting;

  • What different decisions were made as a result of those models? 
  • If any of those decisions were actually implemented across the organization?
  • If implemented, did it make meaningful differences? 
  • Were those differences tracked and “played back”?

Quite often, people don’t even get to the first stage. In the face of such great odds of success, how should we define Workforce Planning and Analytics? What should we do to make a difference? Which situations can we learn from?

I frequently turn to Financial Planning and Analysis groups as a model to follow. Today, FP&A groups have become the stewards of most financial decisions for a company. While they don’t necessarily take the decisions themselves, they facilitate them, have the required governance mechanisms in place and a regular cadence of updates for monitoring and course correction. 

Similarly, if we want to realize the true impact of our Analytics, we need to put in mechanisms and forums in place where we have those decisions taken, actioned and followed up with. 

Accordingly, I have started looking at our body of work (What Workforce Planning and Analytics strives to become?) as follows:

“To be the stewards of all workforce decisions that enables the achievement of business’s strategic goals”. This can be done by: 

  • Helping the businesses create their Workforce Plans that addresses specific business objectives
  • Putting in place a mechanism for HR and the businesses to have a handshake and jointly “Approve” the workforce plans
  • Review changes to those plans and monitor “achievement” on a periodic basis (say quarterly), and communicate course corrective actions

What comprises a Workforce Plan and the types of decisions varies and depends upon the need of the business and/or the current situation with the workforce and can be as expansive as types of roles to invest or divest in, compensation actions to retain a certain type of skill-set that is pivotal or the job level/location of the next position to hire for.

However, this is easier said than done. It requires a significant amount of influencing and a “Consulting sale” starting with the head of the business and the CHRO, based on “urgent” business needs – The Burning Platform and Call to Action. More importantly, the more we have focused our Analytics endeavors in solving for specific business problems with a people dimension, the more we have made the “sale”. Making the sale is only the first part. Subsequently, providing methodologies, frameworks, questions and consulting to the business leaders to help them create their plans and then establish the Governance and review mechanism is where the rest of the magic lies. 

Disclaimer: The arguments made in the column are the author’s personal views and do not represent Visa’s

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Topics: Workforce Management System, HR Analytics, #PredictiveHRAnalytics

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