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Tracey Smith

Numerical Insights LLC


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Don’t get overwhelmed into inaction – analytics success can come to every company


In a recent Deloitte survey on HR Analytics, a shockingly realistic number was presented. The results showed that 8% of respondents report that they have usable data at their disposal.

It’s a shocking statistic given that other surveys claim that anywhere from 75-86% of executives think HR Analytics is an important topic. Together, these results show us that most companies recognize a need for analytics, but very few feel that they are in a position to act on that desire.

This article will help you understand why things are the way they are in the HR Analytics world and what actions you can take today.

We must be realistic.

First, we need to realistic. Put aside the hype of large consulting companies and vendors who make it look like you can make one purchase and everything will suddenly come together. The world doesn’t work that way.

I’ve watched too make companies fall prey to the unrealistic expectations communicated to them by ambitious sales people.

The reality is that in most companies, there exists more than one HR system and they don’t speak with each other very well (see image below).

Larger companies are taking the approach of building a data warehouse to “echo” their data into a centralized system and then attaching data visualization systems to that data warehouse. The next reality is that even if you build a central data warehouse, each data visualization system has a restriction on the “data connections” available.

Visualization vendors are getting better at this over time, but the reality is that in my own work, I am still forced to avoid live connections and take snapshots of my data periodically. Therefore, most dashboards aren’t exactly live, but as current as my last snapshot. The good news is, rarely is a real-time connection crucial with HR data.

For smaller companies, there is a solution. Ignore the hype of huge vendor solutions that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. No-one said your solution had to solve everything about everything today. That’s neither realistic nor a cost effective endeavour.

Instead, determine which business problems are impacting you the most:

  • What data would support decision-making in trying to solve those issues?
  • Do you need a one-time analysis or are there data sets you need to make available to your employees to make their analysis easier?

To provide an example of this, Numerical Insights has clients who often need to know the latest labour information in their area, wages in the market by job role, rates of unemployment, rates of inflation and where they can find new graduates with specific types of degrees.

To serve these clients, we built an online and mobile-friendly portal to gather this information, schedule data updates, and to present it in user-friendly dashboards. (See image below).

This solution did not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars so similar applications are well within reach of smaller companies or larger companies with smaller budgets.

Because large vendors have large budgets, the amount of marketing of these solutions can often make HR leaders feel that their only two choices are to make this huge purchase or make no progress in data and analytics at all.

I hope that the one example I have provided above gives you a realistic view that you can make progress in HR analytics without a massive budget.

I have been quoted many times saying that the key to success in HR analytics is focus and prioritisation. By this statement, I mean to say that if you spend time truly determining which problems are worth answering with analytics, HR can provide value to the business without breaking the piggy bank.

Until next time,


This article was written by Tracey Smith, President of Numerical insights LLC

Tracey Smith is an internationally recognized business author, speaker and analytics consultant. She is one of the most highly respected voices when it comes to business analytics and HR analytics. She is the author of multiple business books and hundreds of articles in a variety of publications. Tracey has worked with and advised organizations, both well-known and little-known, on how to use data analytics to impact the bottom line. If you would like to talk to Tracey about consulting work or speaking engagements, please visit  or contact Tracey Smith through LinkedIn. Also, please visit Tracey’s Amazon Author Page

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