Making HR analytics improvements with “conditions” in mind

For a new HR system implementation, companies will want to remember the sort of company improvements that won’t seem direct or obvious. In an article for CFO, professor John Boudreau looks at the way human capital management systems can be improved by reframing a situation so it doesn’t seem to be a straight line. Citing a study of automobile plants published in 2004, he says that analytics concerns can too easily fall into a problematic format of “straight line” logic.

This is a reference to the theories of philosopher George Boole, who Boudreau argues presents a complex look at the needs of different situations based off of theoretical conditions. This is relevant to HR because the answers to systems problems doesn’t always rely on simply optimizing different positive factors: instead, he says that HR managers should look at the conditions that define high performance and how to achieve them.

“Many investments in human capital don’t follow a straight line,” he says. “More is not always better. Effects depend on other conditions. As tempting as the straight line may be, wise leaders will approach their human capital data and analytics thinking about configurations as ‘it depends.'”

Even though there is room for use analytics use to grow, many HR executives are likely aware of its importance to performance. A global 2013 IBM study of more than 340 CHROs found that 16 percent of organizations are mostly deploying analytics for workforce productivity, twice as many as those using them for performance management evaluations.

While smart HRIS software systems can help solve management issues, they need to be based on the problem areas most pressing to a company. Collaborating with consultants will help HR departments find the vendors that take the best approach to true success across the board, not just on a “straight line.”

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