Ideas and insights for today’s people-centered leaders.



Deliver Business Impact: Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics™

Over the last few years as I’ve met HR executives, leaders and practitioners who want to learn more about people analytics, I have concluded that I nearly always get asked these three questions:

    • How can I improve my impact?
    • How can I create more value?
    • What should I focus on?

Clearly, the answers vary depending upon the situation, level of experience of the person, business challenges, and industry. However, when I reviewed all the work over the last few years in clients and organisations around the world, I realised that the answers can be summarised into nine dimensions which are grouped into three categories: foundational aspects, resources needed and value gained.

And so David Green and I created the Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics™ model, which is now being used by many organisations to help gain impact in the discipline of People Analytics.


The foundational aspects of people management revolve around having the right elements in place up front to enable success in the future before the work becomes too complex.


Having the right structures in place to help with data standards, ethics, and privacy and the selection of projects and analytics work will ensure you have a greater chance of being successful. Start with the end in mind and set yourself up for success.


Starting with the business challenges that are most important and then managing work and projects once you know ‘why’ you are doing it will help you get more from analytics. This dimension focuses on what methodologies are most important to provide simplicity and avoid confusion. As an example, at a 2018 CIPD event in Northern Ireland, I was asked “What one thing would you recommend to do?” for a HR leader in pursuing analytics…my answer “Focus on your business challenges first!


Understanding the people, functions, and groups that are most important and communicating regularly, appropriately, and with clarity will ensure greater impact and value. There are seven types of stakeholders that we recommend in this model to focus on.


The resources that are needed to develop solutions and deliver impact from people analytics are people (or skills), technology and data.


Understanding the people you need to deliver credible results means ensuring that you have access to skills in several areas. In fact, there are Six Skills for Success. These may be built in your team, sourced from elsewhere in the business or hired on an ‘as needed’ basis from outside of your company.


Sourcing, deploying and using technology for analytics is complicated by the fact there are literally thousands of vendors. Your technology needs will be across visualisation, business intelligence, statistics, machine learning, and AI amongst others. They will include both hardware, software and delivered on premises, ‘as a service’ or as a hybrid. The approach here is to recommend those categories of technology to focus on by understanding what your needs are, rather than focusing on ‘the next shiny thing’.


Knowing, using, integrating, managing and securing people and business data is essential if anything else is going to be done at all. This dimension is important to understand standards, security, data options and what you need to answer your most pressing challenges. It also covers the need to focus on internal and external data sources and how to analyse your situation and decide what additional data to gather to improve your analysis.


The value you derive from your people analytics activities will be determined by those with whom you interact.

Workforce Experiences

Deploying analytics solutions with the ultimate benefit of the workforce is the most satisfying part of people analytics. This dimension of the model focuses on understanding your appetite and ability to focus analytics on those that benefit the most — the employees/workers and managers themselves — through personalisation, recommendation algorithms, the consumerisation of HR and democratisation of data to managers. As an example, Nielsen offered analytical value not just in financial terms, but by highlighting the benefits of career change to employees and sharing a video about what, how and why attrition analytics matters.

Business Outcomes

Delivering insights through effective people analytics will ensure your executives and leaders are informed with insights to make decisions. These insights can be about productivity, cost optimisation or revenue enhancement. Whatever they are this dimension ensures that the business will gain organisational benefit from people analytics in the future.


Deploying analytics is easier and more impactful when the culture of HR and the organisation overall is receptive to analytical insights. How to strive for a strong analytics culture is important and most often requested. “How can my team be more quantitative?” and “How can I train my HR business partners?” are two of the most frequent questions I hear.

Bring it All Together

Use this Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics model as a roadmap for your success with people analytics. Start by assessing which dimensions your function currently has and what kind of impact this is having on your operations. If any elements are lacking or not having an impact, build them into your roadmap and strengthen them as you work your way through the foundation up to value. As you build up each dimension within your people analytics function, be sure to also periodically review the outcomes being produced by previous dimensions. To ensure true excellence, your people analytics function must always be producing value to your business.

A version of this post originally appeared on My HR Future.

About the author: Jonathan Ferrar

Jonathan Ferrar is a respected consultant, speaker, and author in HR strategy, workforce analytics, and the Future of Work. He advises clients on how to establish human resources strategies that will improve business performance and make HR more relevant. He was listed as one of the global Top HR Analytics Influencers on LinkedIn in 2014, one of the People Analytics Experts to Follow in 2016 by Jibe, and one of the Experts in People Analytics in 2017 by Fairsail-Sage. Before he started his own consultancy business (OchreRock Ltd), Jonathan worked for more than 25 years in corporate business in both the United Kingdom and the United States. He holds degrees from the University of Cambridge and a postgraduate diploma from Kingston Business School. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (Chartered FCIPD).

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