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Accelerating Your Journey to Creating HR Analytics Value

Updated: Jul 10, 2018

In mid-July, Professor Andy Charlwood from the University of Leeds and Nigel Dias from 3n Strategy will host a webinar on the findings of their recently published HR analytics strategy report.


Six years ago, 3n Strategy devised a framework that broke HR analytics functions down into six strategic development areas. These areas were (and are) based on our strategic HR data practice methodology, which we use whilst working with organisations to design their complete HR analytics strategies. In 2015, we designed a tool which asked HR analytics leaders to respond to 28 questions (now 37), measuring their strengths and weaknesses across all six areas, providing recommendations for where to invest time and resources. Whilst at a conference, Patrick Coolen and Auke IJsselstein from ABN AMRO suggested that we democratise the tool, benchmarking everyone in the room against each other - and the HR Analytics ThinkTank was born.


In 2018, the ThinkTank has grown beyond any one conference, with over 100 HR analytics leaders allowing us to analyse their journeys over the last three years. Partnering with the academic brainpower of the University of Leeds, led by Professor Andy Charlwood, the ThinkTank can now examine topics such as:

  1. What value are different HR analytics functions creating?

  2. What types of investments into HR analytics create that value?

  3. What type of value can be created in less than 12 months, 1-2 years, 2-3 years and 4+ years?

  4. What can organisations do (supported by evidence) to speed up that journey to HR analytics value?


Note: The ThinkTank has just published a paper, entitled 'How do organisations successfully build HR analytics functions?'. If you would like to receive a copy (and join the ThinkTank - it's free), please complete this form. If you would like to attend a free webinar with Professor Andy Charlwood and myself, please register here.





Before you accelerate your journey, do you know what that journey is?

One of the biggest blockers to creating HR analytics value is the inability to articulate what HR analytics value is. In last year's researched, we decided to validate if 'descriptive', 'diagnostic', 'predictive' and 'prescriptive' maturities made sense, and what those differences made in practicality. 77% of our research community considered themselves to be 'descriptive' or 'diagnostic', and when pressed, struggled to explain what more advanced analytics value was.


Remember! When it comes down to it, the value HR analytics will add to your business is directly linked to how much it will improve the way your organisation makes people-decisions. Or more specifically, the way in which is answers a question about your people - if your use of HR data and metrics isn't helping someone to answer the right question, at the right time, which the right level of insights, then it isn't adding the value it should (or shouldn't) be.


There is no shortage of best practice advice about how HR analytics 'ought' to be done - our research showed this advice suffers from some key limitations

Types of HR Analytics Function

Whilst we wanted to test the notions of 'descriptive' to 'prescriptive' analytics, we wanted to explore in more detail if we could identify trends in how different types of functions came into existence, and how they have grown into their current state. We wanted to explore the now increasingly common hypothesis that advanced HR analytics functions need to deliver less mature and more mature analytics.


Our findings, which can be found in more detail in the final report, suggest that there are five analytics typologies:

  1. Basic Reporting

  2. Automated Advanced Reporting

  3. Advanced BI

  4. Basic People Insight

  5. Advanced People Insight


What obstacles slow your journey to HR analytics value?

As can be seen in the Executive Highlights video below (or by reading the report), there are a number of obstacles that slow the adoption of HR analytics by businesses. One of the biggest obstacles focused not on who the HR analytics function's stakeholder was - most functions were sponsored by the most senior HR person in the business - but what they understand about the HR analytics function itself - a finding which echoed the findings of the 2016 data.


Stakeholders with weaker knowledge of HR analytics were less able to drive the success of their analytics functions - less able to articulate the value they would create, less able to help them build the teams they needed, less able to open the right technical doors, and more. Stakeholders with a better understanding of HR analytics were more able to move past reporting to more advanced uses of HR data.


For functions looking to create more advanced value, answering HR questions using more advanced analytical techniques, it is crucial to make sure your senior stakeholder understands HR analytics beyond high level jargon.



Where to start?

Journeys are defined by where you are going, and where you start from. Whilst we can use the profiling tool to identify where HR analytics functions are currently at in their journey, it is useful to analyse what areas of HR are currently being analysed, and what will be analysed in the future.


Again, reflective of our 2016 report, there are areas of analytics which organisations prioritise first, and which lend themselves more easily to analysis. Why? Some organisations attack more topic areas of HR first, such as diversity, whilst some are more easy to analyse in terms of data and statistical capabilities.



The acceleration of achieving HR analytics value is not necessarily hard - the functions that did classify themselves as more advanced were on average 29 months old, which was just 8 more older than the average HR analytics function last year. In the research, we explore in more detail what the differences might be.


The HR Analytics ThinkTank community seems to be struggling with two main issues:

  1. Defining HR analytics value - they struggle to define the value that analytics will create for their business, and therefore cannot unlock the value that our ThinkTank Webinar speakers (below) have been able to unlock

  2. Using advanced analytics - The participants whose functions were able to create analytics value but didn't get as much traction as they hoped


These topics, and many more, are examined in the current report, and will be explored in even more detail in the next. To take part in the research, and gain free access to all research, webinars, and resources, please take part in this years research by clicking here.


Previous ThinkTank Speakers: