Recently, we assisted a large healthcare organization in the automation of monthly HR analytics processing. Today, the organization operates at over 280 locations with over 32,000 associates.
The HR organization faced a daunting task: prepare several spreadsheet versions of key HR metrics for reporting each month. Additionally, the only way an HR business partner could review month-to-month trends was to manually wrangle the spreadsheets together and formulate their own analysis. Moreover, several data sources had to be merged in order to calculate certain HR metrics. This process was inherently open to human error (which might remain undiscovered for weeks) on top of being time-consuming and tedious for the analysts involved.
A Path Forward
Upon our engagement with the client, we were able to recommend a method of continuous improvement and agile product delivery. Rather than throwing one big version over the fence followed by one big hand-off session, our client chose a path of incremental product delivery that allowed us to deploy a version of the software each week. This method helped our client deliver value faster to their end users while continuously improving the product based on customer feedback.
A SQL Server data lake already housed various normalized HR data sources and was refreshed nightly, so we knew we had a good start. What we didn’t know at the time was that we were not permitted to integrate with these data sources unless we used the organization’s propriety tools. An analysis of those tools revealed that they would not be robust enough to satisfy the requirements of an enterprise data mart.
We needed to find a way forward. While working with the organization’s analytics support team, we managed to agree upon some industry-standard tooling (which the organization already owned) to help us move the project forward and provide state-of-the-art processing and automation to meet requirements. With the right foundation in place, we were able to create the framework for an extensible HR analytics solution to serve both HR business partners and non-HR personnel.
While the data architecture was in its planning stages, we began working with our client to pre-visualize the data that would ultimately be presented in an interactive dashboard. We shared several mockups and working demos and the collaborative process started to take shape on what would become the first of many dashboard layers. An interactive and self-guided experience was agreed upon, one that would let users start with a high-level metric experience and then “drill-down” to demographic or details data as needed.
We also took care to bring any business rules and complex calculations to server-side processing so that users would experience the highest-quality performance while navigating the dashboard. Many reusable data objects were created that could source other dashboards and user self-service activities.
Our commitment to the project’s success didn’t end with the sale. In addition to meeting our clients’ technical requirements, we managed to coach our customers on industry best practices for design as well as performance optimization along the way. Moreover, we were able to share adoption-best practices that communicated the new solution to their internal customers as well as assist in monitoring ongoing usage and adoption after the user training sessions.
We created a 100% customized JIRA Kanban wall for our client so we could share status of deliverables during the lifecycle of the project. This tool was essential for communications and allowed the client to prioritize the work assigned to our development team. Quotes were given for each deliverable so that our client could prioritize the enhancements that were most important to them while effectively managing their budget. Also, we managed to create a training environment that would mimic the production system. Upon training, our users could try new things or understand existing functionality without the fear of effecting any of the other environments, including production.
Ultimately, we had an enterprise-class system that allowed HR business partners to utilize a robust and highly interactive dashboard with data that is refreshed automatically from several sources each day. This automation freed the HR Analytics team to manage other areas of the business and focus on new initiatives. The adoption analytics we put in place show a steady stream of new users each week, while ongoing training sessions reveal HR peers sharing their ideas and insights with one another. As the HR landscape continuously changes for many organizations, we were able to set the foundation with an extensible system that can be continuously improved to meet the needs for healthcare HR analytics.
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