McKesson had a need, driven by their CHRO, to make more data-driven people decisions. They had completed an HR transformation several years ago, part of which was designed to further develop HR business partners into true strategic partners for the business. As part of this transformation, they had to inform and arm the business with data they needed to make people and business decisions.
McKesson stood up a workforce intelligence group of about five analysts, situated within the corporate Talent Management organization. The group existed as a centralized resource, primarily supporting Corporate HR at first.
As a result, McKesson began to go from making decisions about the workforce based on intuition to gaining the ability to come to the table with data, just like other functions such as finance or their major business units. However, these workforce insights were not yet embedded in the business.
At McKesson, each business unit had very capable analysts working with business leaders to help them make data-driven decisions. However, they were disconnected.
Furthermore, each analyst was focused on their business unit and not necessarily on the enterprise. Each group also had different goals, often with their own dashboards and metrics. This was further complicated by the challenge that there were different approaches, different analytics tools, and different information being used across the groups. While each had good governance, there was a lack of efficiency and an inability to scale analytics efforts. This ultimately meant it was difficult to drive results across the enterprise.
“By increasing the consistency of our tools and processes across the enterprise, we create the space for the business to be different where it matters.”RJ Milnor, Vice President of Workforce Planning and Analytics
Establish a People Analytics Center of Excellence
When RJ Milnor, Vice President of Workforce Planning and Analytics, joined McKesson, one of his first initiatives was to establish a workforce intelligence center of excellence. He saw a need to leverage the business knowledge and different analytics strengths of the distributed analysts to create an effective, scalable, and sustainable people analytics capability across the enterprise.
Milnor also recognized that while the business units were quite different, with different customers and products, the analytics they needed were actually very alike. By creating a COE, he could create the space for the analysts to be effective yet different where it mattered.
McKesson realized an opportunity to drive more standardization where they could, establishing further discipline and a structure for delivering consistent data to support workforce decisions. By building the COE, McKesson would create a community, enhance coordination, and enable information sharing on best practices.
Each company is a little different in their people analytics approach. At McKesson, the COE took about 9 months to fully implement. This spanned from model design and development in Q4 2017, to fully staffing and integrating the COE in Q3 2018.
This COE now serves the entire enterprise. Their stakeholders are across the board—including HR (Business Partners and COEs such as Talent Management, Total Rewards, and Shared Services), Business Unit leaders, IT, Finance, Legal, Communications, Senior Leadership, and employees.
The Value of the COE
While still early into the COE initiative, the value is already apparent. The COE has become a place where people can come for business-relevant analysis and insights. The center can triage requests (using a prioritization matrix) and help stakeholders understand what might be (and not be) an analytic question. For the first time, the analysts can talk together across the groups.
As a result, analytics efforts are now more strategic. There are synergies in this new shared services model and service levels are beginning to improve.
Through the COE, McKesson discovered there were sometimes differences in data definitions between groups. The collaboration—and close business partnership—of the COE is enabling McKesson to align around common definitions and develop a clear and consistent understanding of the use cases when different approaches might be appropriate.
The team has also grown over the past year, more than doubling in size while adding to the breadth and depth of their capabilities. The business unit analysts have become more consultative. With the COE acting as a community of analysts, McKesson has essentially created an accelerator of innovation.
There is new technology, new code, and new models to explore. Members can learn from each other. They can also hear more about McKesson as a whole, rather than just focusing most of their time on their individual business units. As a result, they have more insight, and they have enriched their career opportunities. Perhaps the most important lesson they have learned with the establishment of the COE is to think of each other as partners.
The value of Visier
The center has become a place where the group asks, why aren’t we using Visier for an effort? They have been able to take about 1,000 hours of work out of the group’s efforts by reducing redundancy. For example, monthly headcount reports done in each business unit, in their own format, and with different attributes and columns have now been standardized. There is now less confusion and risk of misinterpretation.
They have also been able to apply automation to reduce time. The COE worked with IT to automate their ETLs, driving greater consistency and saving time. In one example, data that used to take 40 hours to bring together now takes less than a day.
With Visier, McKesson is moving to a common platform for people analytics and insights. One of the biggest values they add is to get information to the groups that need it most in the way that makes most sense. They can now apply a “fit for purpose” approach, using Visier to find the “what” and “so what” and to get the data directly to their broad set of stakeholders including their HRBPs. They have been able to double Visier utilization since they can concentrate on a core set of tools and communicate in one voice, in an advisory capacity.
This can also affect behavior, helping drive a data mindset within the HR function. For example, HRBPs now have direct access to workforce data and insights that allow them to test their hypotheses. They have immediate access to workforce information to answer a quick question or can test root causes with data to identify possible actions.
McKesson is democratizing data in a meaningful way, empowering the function to leverage their understanding of the business. Visier is a partner in all of this. Milnor likens their transition to “moving from calling OnStar to know the speed your car is traveling, to looking at the dashboard for yourself.”
Stakeholders used to contact the workforce analysts for relatively straightforward requests–such as headcount–which created a focus on reporting among the analyst teams. These stakeholders can now go into Visier and easily find this information themselves. The analysts are now engaged in a much different capacity, drilling deeper into these cases when necessary and developing next steps. As a result, McKesson’s analysts are now true business advisors.