Challenges

To take on the challenges of a fast-growing City and workforce, the City’s HR team needed to provide up-to-date workforce insights to enable fact-based decision-making. Because the City’s population is growing at an unprecedented rate, the City needs to ensure it can expand its key infrastructure and services with the right skills and talent. The City tracks data related to a wide variety of job functions—everything from garbage collection to firefighting and financial planning—so it needs to monitor workforce capacity and other critical HR topics in an efficient way.

Until recently, the HR team was parsing together monthly reports with data pulled from PeopleSoft and other systems. Not only was this time consuming, but the static spreadsheets and reports did not give the City’s leadership team the ability to drill down into key issues, such as talent acquisition, worker safety, and employee retention.

The HR team also needed to modernize its practices for workforce capacity planning. Once a year, they would assemble a printed binder that covered headcount by dimensions such as age, gender, and tenure, as well as the City’s wide range of job categories. This process was lengthy and because it was done on an annual basis it was out of date as soon as it was printed.

“We want to be able to put data into the hands of our senior management team as well as our HR Business Partners and enable them to have the information they need to make decisions. Visier allows us to do that.”

Kirsten Anderson, Acting Director, Workforce Analytics and Business Solutions

Solution

The City’s HR Research, Statistics and Reporting team sought a better way to leverage data to make workforce decisions and plan for the future. They began searching for a people analytics solution that would help the municipality link HR practices with strategic objectives, such as implementing cost control measures for overtime, building a solid recruitment pipeline, and retaining in-demand employees.

The City of Edmonton went through a rigorous RFP selection process, and had a number of key technology requirements. The solution had to be SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). With a SaaS model, the City could reduce or eliminate expensive upgrade costs typically associated with HR solutions, ensure ongoing technology support and always have the most up to date version of the application in place.

The City also needed an HR Management system-agnostic solution. Having started a modernization program for all of its HR technology systems—covering everything from learning and development to performance management to safety management—the City wanted to ensure the people analytics solution it selected could bring in any data, from any source, without the City paying extra fees.

TCOW-per-compensation-type
Data visualization of breakdown of actual total cost of workforce by compensation type. *Fictional data used for customer privacy.

Capabilities

After a rigorous search for the right vendor, the City selected Visier. The City began the rollout of Visier in December of 2014, beginning with senior HR managers, followed by other HR positions.

The City’s HR team is using the solution—which comes pre-built with hundreds of workforce metrics, analytics, and visualizations, covering a wide range of HR topic areas—to analyze over three years of employee data. Once the roll-out is complete, the solution will also be used by the City’s approximately 200 senior leaders, such as the City Manager, General Managers, Branch Managers, and Directors, in addition to the HR team.

“Visier could unify all of our data, from any source, which was a big win for us. With other vendors, we would have to potentially pay tens of thousands of dollars to try and integrate new types of data when it came time to implement a new system. With Visier, we can procure other systems and bring in their data for analysis, without worrying about data integration fees,”

Kirsten Anderson, head of the City’s HR Research, Statistics and Reporting team.

The City has replaced static reports with interactive visualizations that let teams drill down into workforce data, enabling the City’s leadership to make decisions based on accurate, up-to-date insights into critical workforce trends.

“A key decision criteria for us was the intuitive nature of Visier,” explains Anderson. “Part of our vision is to put data-driven insights into the hands of every manager and HR practitioner, many of whom are new to analytics. It was critical that the solution we selected be easy and intuitive for all users, not just the analysts.”

Visier enables the HR team to quickly answer complex questions because the solution is powered by in-memory technology, which can process very large numbers of employee records without the need to create a data warehouse. This means the City’s HR team can instantly answer questions on-demand and stay on top of trends as the City’s workforce rapidly changes to meet evolving demands for skills and labour.

“With Visier, we can procure other systems and bring in their data for analysis, without worrying about data integration fees.”

Head Of HR Research, Statistics And Reporting Team, City Of Edmonton

Benefits

With a self-service analytics-based planning function in place for HR, the City of Edmonton can optimize workforce spending, as well as make better decisions about critical workforce issues.

The right workforce—now and for the year 2020

Before the City had an analytics-based planning solution in place, it was relying on headcount numbers to make workforce capacity decisions. Now, instead of simply looking at headcount net change, the City can instantly ask more multidimensional questions of its data.

This gives the organization better visibility into how many people are new to their roles and whether there are any shortfalls in capacity due to ramp up time. The City can use metrics that combine several different data sources to deliver the right kind of insight to make decisions related to hiring, promotions and training

Better decisions about workforce safety

The municipality now has the information it needs to efficiently identify the root causes of safety incidences. Before Visier, the HR team used to report this information via static spreadsheets and documents. Leaders could see the total number of incidents, but could not drill down into key areas such as job function, age, or tenure.

With Visier, they can now look at safety incidents through different dimensions, providing a clearer view of what action is needed to address potential issues.

The City anticipates that this will not only support the important goal of maintaining worker safety, but also contribute to cost savings: the City pays lower premiums on workers’ compensation insurance if they improve their safety performance.

With a people analytics solution in place, the City of Edmonton’s HR team is transforming itself into a fact-based discipline, helping the City build a robust workforce through a period of rapid growth.