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Stacey Harris


VP of Research And Analytics

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Rethinking your workforce management solution – what the data says


The Sierra-Cedar 2014-2015 HR Systems Survey White Paper, 17th Annual Edition, took a close look this year at how organisations are leveraging one of the most overlooked areas of HR Technology: the workforce management solutions set.

These HR applications are used to allocate the actual work of employees and a growing number of contingent workers, and capture the day to day movement of a workforce to promote seamless operations as well as provide historical data for reporting, analysis, and compliance purposes.

'Time and attendance'

Time and attendance applications continue to be the most widely adopted solution in this workforce management category, with 80% adoption globally and 63% adoption across Europe today, and survey respondents forecast steady growth for the next three years. In previous years, we saw time and attendance applications primarily adopted at high levels by organisations with large hourly and part-time workforces such as those in retail, manufacturing, and healthcare. Today, we also see organisations in other sectors such as financial services, high-tech, and business services with higher adoption levels due to the increased need to track time and work activities of highly skilled workforces on specific projects or accounts.

'Scheduling and budgeting'

Workforce/labor scheduling solutions, as well as workforce/labour budgeting are often overlooked for their important roles in helping organisations ensure they have allocated the right skills, placed them in the right location, and at the right time. In this area as well, industries such as financial services, high-tech, and business services with heavy project management requirements, as well as highly specialised skills, will often leverage sophisticated workforce management scheduling and labor allocation solutions to help plan, schedule, and manage projects efficiently.

Key components are often scheduling tools that connect tightly to core HRMS, talent management, and business intelligence solutions.

'Absence and leave management'

Absence and leave management often round out these technology solutions. These applications must consider regional labour laws and reporting requirements, and Sierra-Cedar found the highest levels of adoption in both EMEA as well as APAC in these solutions. Many organisations outsource these organisational processes, but for those that manage them internally, a flexible solution updated regularly for regional regulations is a critical tool for managing risk. Any modern workforce management solution should handle these for your organisation.

Connecting workforce management, talent management, and business intelligence applications

Each of the Workforce Management applications, run separately, can help an organisation stay in compliance and run efficiently. Sierra-Cedar research, however, finds those organisations with higher than average adoption of all Workforce Management applications lead in multiple ways over those that adopt only a few individual applications. They are:

  • More strategic–68% more likely to be viewed by all levels of management as contributing strategic value to their organisation
  • More mature–their average HR process maturity level is 2.6 versus 2.2 on a three-point scale
  • More automated–they adopt almost twice as many overall HR applications

Each year we also ask organisations about the increase or decrease of specific HR, talent, and business outcomes. Our research found a link between organisations leveraging full suites of Workforce Management, talent management, and business intelligence tools and improved HR, talent, and business outcomes across ALL possible outcomes. We often see certain application adoptions linked to improved HR outcomes, or a few talent outcomes, maybe one or two business outcomes – but it is rare to see all outcomes improve.

In addition, these organisations also achieve higher financial outcomes in the form of 31% higher return on equity.  

So what is happening with these organisations? It is also important to note that these organisations are three times more likely to integrate data from their workforce management and talent management applications and their HRMS environment. These are organisations that are looking strategically at their workforces, and using data to inform their decision-making process.

For years we have been struggling to find the real business impact of implementing talent management solutions, only to come up with indirect cost savings and improved engagement metrics. Not bad outcomes, but often less relevant to our business partners. It is the connection of the talent management data with the workforce management data that turns the conversation from an HR discussion to an operations discussion. When workforce management is elevated from a transactional system to the same level of strategic importance as an organisation’s talent management solution, then HR has the tools they need to optimise the workforce. We believe this integration effort is the next big push for all HR organisations to focus on, similar to the integration push that many high-performance organisations have been making across their talent management applications.

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Stacey Harris

VP of Research And Analytics

Read more from Stacey Harris