Sunday, January 10, 2010

HR Systems, Data Integrity and Math 101

A quick multiple choice question to make a point:

When the typical Line or Department Manager receives a data extract from their primary HR System, perhaps to kickoff a Salary/Performance/Focal Review process with their employees, any data issues noted in that data extract are dealt with in the following manner:

(a) The Line Manager receiving the data extract completes a data correction form on-line for all employees with incorrect data, and requests a revised data extract.

(b) The Line Manager calls or emails their HR contact and advises them of the issue … such as an employee in the wrong department, or with an incorrect title or employment status … and requests a revised data extract.

(c) The Line Manager, in the interest of time (particularly if they have many employees in their charge) makes the appropriate corrections in their own personal excel spreadsheet of employee data, and makes a note to inform HR.

If you selected ‘C’ above, you are clearly not alone. Offline spreadsheets of employee/job/organizational data are often maintained by Department Heads in many large organizations today because of some level of distrust of the data provided by their central HR System, and/or the recognition that they want to rely on a system or data repository that they 100% control and actually own!

Offline spreadsheets maintained by Line Managers are the Achilles’ heel of the HR Technology domain. The cost associated with hundreds of Line Managers (or their staff members) having to maintain these “rogue spreadsheets” of employee data -- coupled with the cost to the organization of perpetually reconciling multiple sources of the same employee data -- can translate into millions in larger organizations.

Data Integrity and "Math 101"

- While there are hundreds of pieces of information maintained in a robust HR system or HR-ERP (including historical data), there may be only 25 workforce-related data elements that the average line manager (i.e., department or business unit head) really cares about when making critical workforce or employee decisions.

- An organization of 2,500 employees with a very modest data inaccuracy or obsolescence rate of only 3%, is dealing with 1,875 pieces of “high-value” employee information that are incorrect (2,500 employees x 25 data elements x .03). A considerably larger 10,000 employee organization with the same very modest data inaccuracy rate would be dealing with 7,500 pieces of high-value employee information that are incorrect and unreliable ... 7,500!!!

Data Integrity Feedback Loop: Line Managers should have a very quick, automated mechanism for advising HR that certain employee data may be wrong … including a Feedback Loop which confirms back to the “Data Challenger” that the data issue they surfaced is being researched and, if necessary, corrected IN THE RIGHT PLACE.

This will create a sense of HR system ownership outside the HR department, and gradually begin to put duplicate data repositories out of business.

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