Global research launched today by SuccessFactors, an SAP Company, reveals that organisations are wasting, on average, 17 hours per week to produce HR reports. More time is being devoted to delivering reports back to the organisation as respondents cite increased demand for workforce metrics (72%) in the last five years.

The global research commissioned by SuccessFactors and conducted by the international research firm, Vanson Bourne, surveyed 1,300 HR, finance and IT managers and found that almost three quarters (72%) of organisations say their employees are increasingly geographically dispersed. As a result, a further 51% of organisations globally are finding the connection of multiple data sets challenging as they grapple with disparate systems and both structured and unstructured data, making reporting increasingly troublesome. As a result, just under a quarter (22%) of global survey respondents consider themselves to be ‘very effective’ when it comes to workforce analytics.

“Having the right people, in the right roles, focused on the right things is increasingly recognised as a competitive advantage for companies of every size.  On demand, accurate information on the workforce at all times is also business critical, and required of each company’s board and leadership,” said Shawn Price, president, SuccessFactors, SAP Cloud. “Delays in developing detailed reports on your people will impact HR’s ability to deliver strategic value to the business. The speed and global nature of today’s workplaces demand cloud workforce analytics tools that can quickly analyse your current workforce and provide valuable insights so you can predict who you need and where you need them and put the plans in place to address those needs.”

The Impact of Globalisation

As a result of a globally distributed workforce, half (51%) of organisations use different HR systems for different territories, and of those, 47% have a different system in each country. This has led to the management of multiple systems across different networks and geographies, becoming a challenge for four out of ten (39%) organisations. Whilst the need to have an HR system which adapts to local needs remains one of the biggest challenges for almost half (45%) of organisations surveyed.

The global make-up of organisations is also having an impact on employees and their demand for access to information on the move.  Employees want an average of 47% of business applications to be available on mobile devices. These issues form part of the reasoning behind organisations looking to streamline processes, additionally just under half (49%) of organisations see reducing cost as one of the key reasons for reviewing core HR systems.

The Role of Technology and Cloud

Eight in ten (81%) organisations believe that cloud computing can bring benefits to the HR department; specifically allowing HR systems to grow more flexibly and react more quickly to what the organisation requires. Respondents cite specific benefits; enabling HR system to scale rapidly (32%), reducing the need for costly upgrades (32%) and ensuring that the system is up-to-date (31%). Despite the increased focus on cloud-based solutions, the relationship between HR and IT remains important, with two thirds (62%) of organisations saying their HR department is increasing its dependence upon the IT department. With the growing requirement in the business for HR reporting and analytics, this dependence is set to remain. However, with good workforce analytics and planning tools in the hands of the HR department, they will be able to increasingly take control of this without needing to rely on IT and business analysts.

“Changes in workforce demographics and changes in the way people expect to be able to work add increasing complexity to the demands on HR systems,” said Price. “Not only are businesses now expected to provide access to business applications anywhere, any time and on any device, but they also need to address how to create high performing, interconnected remote teams through tools which allow for effective collaboration.”

Aligning Lines of Business

Almost a third (32%) of organisations see having a single source of truth as one of the biggest challenges for running and maintaining their core HR system. This is no surprise bearing in mind that 42% believe that finding a single system which is appropriate to their needs is a challenge.  This leads to situations where organisations are connecting multiple data sets together. Of those organisations where sufficient data is not always provided, analytics fail to make an impact on corporate policy due to lack of depth (38%), inaccurate data (39%) or reporting that does not align with reporting elsewhere in the organisation (37%).

Although HR reports are in higher demand, different roles within organisations have differing views on the analytics that HR is able to produce. This is in terms of both how the department inherently works and what insights they can derive from the information currently available to them. Over half (55%) of ITDMs believe structuring and conducting analyses with the current HR reporting system to be challenging, compared to 45% of HRDMs and 42% of FDMs. In terms of output, a third (33%) of ITDMs say that their HR systems always provide them with sufficient data to measure business strategy, compared to a quarter (24%) of HRDMs, and just 12% of FDMs.

Price continues: “All lines of business benefit from greater insight and understanding of their workforce. Today’s challenge is creating an HCM strategy that allows different business units the insights needed to proactively manage their people. The result is an HR organisation that spends less time creating reports that give nothing more than a glimpse of the past, and more time understanding what is needed for tomorrow – delivering state-of-the-art HCM for the business.”

Concerns Over Compliance

Over half of organisations (53%) are fully confident about their HR systems being fully compliant, with a further third believing they are, in fact, fully compliant; respondents based in the USA and Germany are the most confident. Of those organisations that have divisions in different countries, three quarters (75%) allow for local variation on compliance issues and, of these, almost all use their HR system to help with this in all or most (93%) of the countries in which they operate.  However, of those organisations that allow local variation, only a third (34%) say this is a ‘very simple’ process, illustrating that the majority do have challenges to overcome. This is further seen in the fact that for just over a third (36%), compliance issues are a key reason that organisations will review their core HR system.