Opinion

Three ways to simplify HR reporting

Editor's note: The following is a guest contribution by Amit Patel, vice president of product development for ADP, an HR management and payroll software company.

Thoreau was on the right track.  He may have been talking about lifestyle choices, but his mantra — "Simplify, Simplify" — is spot on for HR leaders managing the time-consuming, complex and, at times, overwhelming task of compiling and analyzing HR data.

Part of any HR leader's daily routine is asking data specialists to compile reports that analyze the changing size, structure and cost of their workforce. Leaders rely heavily on these data specialists to gather the information that provides insight into how human capital management investments are contributing to an organizations’ overall business goals.

It's a bit daunting, to be sure.

Traditionally, HR reporting has been mission critical within organizations, but it often involves complex tasks requiring highly trained specialists. Now, those tasks can be done in less than a minute. Using new technologies, HR leaders can build a report, easily access and display the data in it, and perform analysis on it. 

There are three ways that simplified reporting can help HR managers streamline data, while freeing up data specialists to focus on broader strategic business initiatives:

  1. Save time.  Traditionally, creating a report on workflow or to support job requisition and onboarding can be a lengthy process. When asked to do so, HR managers must identify the data needed; figure out what kind of report to build; extract information from the HR database; and, use it to inform workforce activity. 

    Simplified reporting tools can now help those managers focus on the most meaningful fields, help group those fields into logical categories and generate a quick reply or answer to data queries. Simplified reporting tools allow managers to pick relevant fields, join data tables and define complex queries to obtain all the related data needed to complete an effective — and quick — analysis.
  2. Gain insights. By using the data from companies with similar profiles, organizations can benefit from artificial intelligence (AI) that can recommend and run reports that will provide added insights into workforce trends. A simplified reporting tool that uses AI — the facet of computer science where a system literally can "learn" patterns and choices, and then repeat them without being prompted — can present HR users with data elements they need to make the best decision. 

    It also can help identify potential workforce areas of concern that may need to be addressed by looking for inconsistencies in HR data. By drilling down into the data details, simplified reporting can help HR managers formulate recommendations that can improve that area of concern and contribute to business success.
  3. Look ahead.  A report is only as good as the data that's used to create it and more valuable if it provides those reports quickly and in context. Simplified reporting can deliver insights about an organization and use benchmarking to provide additional market context. Both tools — benchmarking and reporting — can be used as part of a broader strategy to gain insights from data. For example, aggregated and anonymous data can provide comparisons from other companies with similar profiles that can help immediately spot workforce issues and trends that can be applied to an organization’s decision-making process. 

    Getting an anonymous glimpse into the data of other businesses provide organizations with valuable perspective: What reports are other businesses building? How are they defining them? How can an organization use their example to build reports to help become more proactive and more of a strategic contributor? 

The ultimate goal of simplified reporting is to help HR leaders create useful and effective reports more quickly that they can absorb, interpret and act on.

Reporting is no longer a reactive task for HR managers. They now can run a report in literally five minutes, making data analysis an integral part of the decision-making process. They can instantly see trend data that, in the past, would take days to compile and require a second meeting to review.  

So, let's give a nod to Thoreau. He may have been talking about life on Walden Pond, but he sure had the right idea about HR data.  

Filed Under: HR Tech & Analytics
Top image credit: Flickr user reynermedia