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August 31, 2017
What’s an HR leader to do to make a shift to digital HR? Good data is critical.
By: David Pereles

Data is everywhere, and growing fast.

Much like people accumulate photographs and greeting cards over the years, so do businesses with employee data. There’s value in that data—if it’s good data—but what to do with it all, and how to start?

In today’s human resources, this is a particularly pressing challenge as businesses move to the cloud.

HR leaders are trying to get their hands around the data that exists for their employees—national IDs, personal information, emergency contacts, job information, etc.—that for years resided in multiple legacy systems.

As they transition to new, cloud-based systems, they need data that’s clean and updated to gain actionable insights that helps the business make a successful journey to all-digital HR. Problem is, not all of the data is correct, and it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to fix. Even data that may be correct still may need to be updated.

HR leaders grapple with fundamental questions: What’s the value of a new system if the information in there isn’t accurate? How do I make sure my employee data is accurate so the transition is worth the time and money invested?

People have expectations of a new HR system, but if the data is bad, the expectations won’t be met and we might have failed before we even had a chance to start. How do I use the tools available to get the best possible results?

Fortunately, there is a way forward (as we’ve seen in our work helping companies modernize HR through SAP’s SuccessFactors HR solutions).

Quality Matters

We’ve witnessed a few themes emerging recently.

Data quality is an important consideration when moving forward with HR transformation. But first, we must acknowledge that the existing data may not be correct. We must assume there is work to do to improve the quality of the data. Even if you have the best analytical and reporting capabilities in the world, if the data isn’t right, you will be unable to use the results.

A second critical consideration: audit and compliance. How to apply rules and logic to make sure I’m inputting the correct information? The data may be “complete,” but not accurate.

We’ve seen companies achieve results by using, for example, the Accenture HR Audit & Compliance-as-a-Service tool. Through proactive reporting capabilities, the tool automatically checks data in SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central against predefined and customized rules, helping reduce errors and boost compliance. HR leaders can examine job relationships and core employee data to find discrepancies and missing information, “without executing a bunch of ad hoc reports,” ,” as one leader told us.

Such a platform, the executive added, helps us “run simple” and focus attention on the more strategic issues facing the company.

If you’re considering moving to the cloud for HR, start working on your data as soon as possible. Don’t overestimate how clean your data is. Some HR officers look at their data and, well… it’s not what they’d hoped to see, to put it mildly. It’s a wake-up call.

Why does HR need to go digital? One reason among many is to enable employees to take control of and responsibility for their own information. SAP SuccessFactors allows them to give their employees the ability to take ownership of their data through self-service. Who better to make sure their information is correct than the employee themselves.

Keep It Clean

All of this is predicated on having clean information. But considering the broader business climate—especially the tight markets for skilled talent (unemployment in the U.S. recently touched a 16-year low) - it’s worth doing.

Better management of HR-related data, by incorporating analytics and other digital tools that interpret and enlighten, can help improve decisions on retentions, promotions, salaries/payroll, succession planning and more. Good, quantifiable employee information is essential for a business to identify and nurture its next wave of leaders.

HR must move beyond its traditional transactional function into a role that delivers consumer-inspired employee “experiences” and helps fuel growth and competitiveness for the business.

By advancing your HR toward an analytics-driven, cloud-enabled tomorrow—what we call New IT—you’re well on your way to building the business that’s both fully digital and puts your people in the best possible position to succeed.

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