Gary Russo leads Providence’s Workforce Intelligence team, a group responsible for both people analytics and workforce planning initiatives. With a goal to build a culture of evidence-based decision-making within HR and among business leaders, Russo’s team needed a solution to overcome the lack of trust around HR data and the technical issues contributing to the divide.
At the same time, the organization was grappling with the complexity of merging two large systems with distinctly different technology, processes, and information culture. They realized that aligning data and metrics to an actionable state might be impossible using their current tools, even with significant increases to headcount and expertise.
Failing to meet the need
Providence Health & Services had a Tableau-based HR dashboard, but it couldn’t keep up with the business needs. The dashboard was challenged to blend many data sources (as Russo puts it, “a pile of systems”), resulting in a steep learning curve for users to understand and use the information correctly. User satisfaction suffered from accessibility and speed issues, and high-skill labor was continually redirected to ongoing maintenance.
At the time of the merger, Providence did not have a standard HR dashboard. Applying the same dashboard strategy to an even larger and more complex set of data meant no advancements towards stronger evidence based decision making. The executive team knew they needed better results and were open to a new solution.
The Providence team reviewed everything from ERP reporting/ visualization modules to very technical solutions that included AI. They chose Visier as their people analytics solution since it provided a ‘facilitated journey’ that would drive their organization towards a data-driven culture more quickly.
Further, they found Visier was the strongest solution that looked beyond the HR lens. It proved capable of incorporating business outcomes like patient safety, quality of care, and financial budgets, and marrying this information with people data to create a complete picture–essential to the strategic decision-making they aimed for.
Making the business case
The Workforce Intelligence team needed to demonstrate that a people analytics technology investment would generate hard cost-savings. First, they identified savings from not having to expand physical hardware to support and expand Tableau usage. Then they showed how leader and analyst working hours could be redirected to higher value activities by reducing or removing the time spent seeking and cleaning basic information.
The team also showed the anticipated returns from reducing turnover and optimizing workforce spend using Visier. Providence’s legacy analytics tools made it difficult for leaders to understand the individual actions they needed to take. This hindered meaningful decisions that could translate to improved financial returns.
Further, some of the core features of Visier, like the resignation drivers chart, filled a known critical need that would have been slow and expensive to develop internally. Finally, the ability to combine Providence’s historical data with Visier’s impressive planning module created financial opportunities in pipeline creation and workforce planning.
It takes a village
To get alignment behind the Visier project across different functions, Russo collaborated with other leaders to build a roadmap and strategy to show how people analytics would be beneficial to multiple departments. He looked to common problems, such as budgeting processes that would benefit from more comprehensive information about people and costs.
Russo gathered feedback about data challenges from leaders of various HR divisions (such as Talent Acquisition and Total Rewards) and other business functions (Finance, Legal, Nursing/Operations) and created early excitement by demonstrating how Visier would help.
In fact, the collaboration between HR and Finance created a critical, unified voice in support of the value Visier could provide. Finance, as well as other business stakeholders engaged throughout the process, became advocates on HR’s behalf, increasing credibility of the entire initiative. Finance’s close partnership and edits while evaluating the hard cost-savings of Visier helped usher the budget request through several rounds of intense scrutiny.
“Finance should be your first [analytics] partner because there’s a necessary link between the functions. Data is the common language that allows strong alignment conversations, and early Finance buy-in avoids complications later in a project. Legal is the immediate second stop. Creating a water-tight data access philosophy is essential.”Gary Russo, Director of HR Workforce Intelligence
The Providence team approached the Visier launch in a series of waves that would let them rapidly integrate direct feedback from their users. The first rollout of Visier was to about 80 of Providence’s field HR executives and high-skill analysts. These users were trained to use Visier and then asked to provide feedback. The initial users nominated another 50 non-HR leaders/analysts to go through the same process and provide similar feedback from their unique perspectives.
Within just a few months, all of field HR and HR leadership were given access and introduced to Visier – a group of about 1,000 people. Shortly after, all leaders with at least one direct report were also granted access. Finally, additional users such as analysts and executive assistants were added to ensure data is flowing where the business needs it.
Today, a little over a year since project kick-off, Visier access and training has been made available to over 13,000 users across the organization.
Visier is also introduced with a suite of videos and on-demand exercises. These show leaders why Visier is specifically useful to them (e.g. “see which of your employees were hired in the last 90 days”) and then, how they can use Visier to get to that information. This learning program is meant to provide immediate personal value to each user and build a strong foundation for “next action” conversations.
Training at scale
Ongoing training and support are needed for both Visier adoption and to hone data-driven thinking and skills. To scale with the growing number of users, the Workforce Intelligence team transitioned live session training to a hybrid model including a self-service curriculum.
The on-demand material is also being expanded to include data and evidence-based decision-making learning, such as how to think through problems, ask the right business questions, find the most effective visualization to make a point, and more. Live web-based training is still delivered to HR twice a month, giving field facing HR a forum to keep up-to-date with changes and additions, and to raise questions.
The training curriculum has been especially beneficial to the HR business partners. They have become more comfortable with their data, and as a result, are more confident in their role as a go-to resource for workforce questions and decision support.
Despite the size of Providence and its impressive rollout plans, the Workforce Intelligence team is just three people.
Russo is directly responsible for people analytics and change management, while his colleagues focus on strengthening Providence’s workforce planning. The small team is closely partnered with HR Information Services and collaborates with other teams, such as Compensation and Finance. To better scale their work, they actively participate in HR data governance and continually seek cross-functional relationships that enable an organization-wide data-driven culture.
The Workforce Intelligence team surveyed about 150 users from the initial rollout to ask about their experiences with data before Visier and again after implementation. The improvement has been like night and day. The group’s net promoter score went from a score of -43 to +50 after introducing Visier!
Users also responded more positively around topics such as data accessibility, relevance, and actionability after transitioning to Visier.
Implementing Visier drove conversations needed to develop a standard of metric definitions. Visier now acts as the data hub–analysts can even export information right from the solution, trusting that the data contained within is already clean and credible.
Furthermore, having one platform with one set of metric definitions means quicker time to insights. In meetings, HRBPs are empowered to go from talking strategy to diving into tactics without needing to leave Visier.