The challenge

Engage leaders to address their needs and identify potential value

When you work at a company in the analytics business, you would think getting buy-in for a people analytics solution would be easy. Data-driven insights are a necessity for making strategic workforce decisions, and at Experian, there was already significant demand from the business for more workforce data.

But despite the sure-fire proposition, the people analytics team at Experian took nothing for granted. Before seeking a wider mandate to invest in a people analytics solution, the team wisely decided to first build support across the organization—by identifying workforce issues and doing extensive pre-work to show how workforce analytics could address them.

Sales was one area of the business where the team found a strong appetite for workforce analytics. Sales leaders wanted better insights about their employees, and the analytics team chose as its first tactic to deliver a concise two-pager to the top executive in charge of sales. As compact as the document was, the insights in it were transformational compared to the information the executive previously had access to.

Beyond providing the basics—like headcount, organization structure, and roles—the two-pager also analyzed attrition, movement, and lateral promotions, and showed how the sales force was split by other key demographics such as salary grade and performance level.

Turnover—and the need to reduce it—was another issue that was front and center for business leaders at Experian. To articulate potential value, the team created a cost model that showed how reducing turnover by one percent would create over $6 million in savings.

By showing that better retention would reduce costs for hiring and onboarding—and cut down on lost productivity—the team secured the support of the business. After implementing Visier, Experian has since reduced voluntary turnover by two percent globally, and the analytics team has parlayed that win into success with additional workforce initiatives.

Experian chose a potentially risky big-bang approach to roll out a people analytics solution to 400 users in its HR function—but with a clear plan in place, it has ultimately produced significant results, including a two-percent reduction in voluntary turnover.

The analytics team has also engaged with the broader HR leadership team to promote the use of workforce data and analytics to add value to the organization. HR leaders have made “being insight led” a pillar of their workforce strategy, making it clear to everyone in HR that data should be front and center in the drive to optimize the workforce.

Lay the groundwork for a people analytics solution

Experian began its people analytics journey long before implementing a technology solution. Three years ago, Olly Britnell joined Experian as Head of Global Workforce Analytics. For the first six months of his tenure, Britnell and a small group of data specialists reviewed and streamlined all the data in the company’s management information systems. They also mapped the company’s people strategy to its overall business strategy.

The team then established a set of 15 to 20 workforce metrics that were key to the people strategy—such as headcount, attrition, promotions and lateral moves, and key performance indicators for development and diversity— reaching consensus with stakeholders both on what metrics to include and how to define them.

After defining each metric, the analytics team worked to get global alignment. They held short, focused workshops with global HR teams to educate them on the key metrics and their definitions. They encouraged HR teams to think strategically, asking each group to connect their business strategy to their HR strategy and define key workforce measures.

After working with each regional HR team on how to think and lead with data-driven insights, the analytics team built a dashboard of workforce insights for HR leaders and HR business partners and then rolled it out.

Data visualization showing employee movement breakdown for top talent in August 2018 at a fictional organization
Data visualization showing employee movement breakdown at a fictional organization

Instead of boiling the ocean and considering every possible data point, the analytics team gained credibility with HR by focusing on the most important workforce metrics. And by working to achieve global alignment on metrics and definitions—before choosing a people analytics solution—the team created a foundation for success, making it easy to streamline data for onboarding into the new solution.

Resignation_Drivers
Visualization of characteristics affecting resignation rate (sample data)

Make HR business partners your business champions

Britnell calls HR business partners at Experian the face of the analytics team to the business. Working with HR business partners is a priority for his team, he says, because they deliver insights to the rest of the business.

The team has identified two to four HR business partners in each region—based on their ability to understand workforce metrics and tell a good story—to function as workforce analytics champions. This select group of HR business partners, for instance, took part in an early pilot and began to promote the value of data-driven insights within their regions.

By leveraging this network of peers throughout the organization, Britnell and his team were able to secure buy-in for their work from across the organization. HR business partners also act as champions for the team’s more recent work on predictive analytics, and they also help test and validate work done by the analytics team.

During the launch of Visier, champions were responsible for communicating six key messages to HR colleagues about the new workforce analytics solution.

  1. The solution supports the goal of HR to be led by insights.
  2. As a global solution, it drives consistency and puts workforce data at your fingertips.
  3. The solution gives you easier access to workforce insights, enabling you to better support business decisions and action.
  4. The solution makes you stronger business partners by allowing you to rely on data and insights—not just intuition—to dispel myths.
  5. The solution increases the visibility and transparency of workforce metrics, helping drive actions and ongoing improvement.
  6. The solution is innovative, intuitive, and user friendly

Why Experian chose Visier

When choosing a people analytics solution, Experian looked at several options that included a number of business intelligence vendors. In the end, Experian selected Visier because “it gave us out-of-the-box content,” says Olly Britnell.

“Because Visier is built specifically for HR, a lot of the hard work around definitions and setup are already done.”

Olly Britnell, Head of Global Workforce Analytics, Experian

Visier’s Topic Guidebook, which delivers off-the-shelf answers to key workforce issues, was a key differentiator, he says.

The analytics team

The global analytics team at Experian, including leaders for each region, comprises nine people. Their roles and responsibilities highlight the complexity of rolling out workforce analytics across a global organization. Success requires a broad range of skills, varying from relationship management and project management to expertise in data, statistics, and consulting. The team now acts as a center of excellence in the global HR function, serving HR business partners distributed throughout the organization.

Results

Since implementing Visier, the analytics team has used the insights to help support the business in exceeding its goals for reducing turnover at Experian, used Visier to help optimize spans of control and management layers in support of organizational design initiatives, and capitalized on Visier’s self-service capabilities to carve out more time for work on sophisticated analytics and predictive models.

Furthermore, the team has succeeded in providing segmented insights on gender diversity across the globe quickly, easily, and consistently—helping boost the credibility of HR.

In fact, increasing HR’s credibility is what the team sees as its biggest success with workforce analytics. Before Visier, HR was seen as a poor cousin to Finance because key HR metrics like headcount didn’t align with metrics from Finance. Now, however, HR business partners are empowered with accurate workforce insights whenever they need them.

In meetings, for instance, HR business partners can pull up insights directly from Visier that show where the business is and uncover workforce challenges. The ability to be data-driven increases the influence and impact of the HR function, making HR the de facto source of truth for HR and people data. In turn, the analytics team increases its ability to drive change around initiatives that involve people analytics.