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Analytics Boost for Consultants

11/13/13

Analytics in consulting is not about reporting, dashboards or complex math. It is the link that enables consultants to identify top people drivers of business results.

Consultants achieve their maximum potential only when they uncover strategic options and present them confidently before the leadership team.

Consultants have traditionally used efficiency-oriented measurements such as cost of labor, absenteeism, time to hire, recruitment costs, training costs, including intangibles such as employee satisfaction/engagement, training effectiveness, competency management and such. However, consultants drop the ball by failing to effectively manage the volumes of data collected and then failed to uncover the key drivers of true business results.

ANALYTICS RAISE THE BAR

Analytics raise the bar for consultants to allow creating real value for a business client. It’s the reporting of metrics to deeper analytics. Analytics is not the same as measuring and reporting metrics. Metrics represent past performance. Analytics establish causal relationships and help predict future value.

CAUSALITY IS DIFFERENT FROM CORRELATION

Causality is very different from correlation. For example, there may be a strong correlation between certain training programs and employee engagement. However, a deeper probe may reveal that these programs are not causing engagement. The same often also holds true for a better-than-market compensation and employee engagement — strong correlation, but not causality.

There is yet another idea that our organizations are unique, our challenges are unique and, so, measurement and analytics are not applicable. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Statistics are what they are and careful analysis can be done, no matter how unique business may be.

LACK OF ANALYTICS MAY ACTUALLY TAKE US IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

In the absence of meaningful analytics, consultants may actually miss out on two grounds. One, unable to assess the return on a consulting investments; second, and perhaps more importantly, lack of analytics may actually take us in the wrong direction.

For instance, of the multitudes of low scores from a survey, how do you know which action to take that produces the greater ROI? Do you work on the lowest score? For that matter, how can you be sure every survey question has pertinent value impacting the bottom line? Imagine the frustration spending time, effort and money improving a low score and the impact is essentially “zero.”  Heads should roll!

METRICS ARE NOT ANALYTICS

It is important to understand the difference between measurements, metrics and human capital analytics. Measurement is data gathered regardless of reason. Metrics involve measurements for specific reason. Analytics are metrics that are analyzed to create value. Analytics are used to make smart business decisions.

Analytics refers to gaining actionable business intelligence and insight from people-related data within an organization. While analytics help generate predictable business outcomes, there is no guarantee that analytics delivers perfect version of the future. Circuit City, one of the companies that figured as “great” in the “good to great” study of Jim Collins, went out of business in 2008 and one of the biggest reasons for it was that it laid off over 3,000 experienced people to cut costs. This was an ‘easy decision’, but a detailed analytics would have given them a wake-up call as to the dangers of doing so. Circuit city is not alone. Many companies today resort to mindless retrenchment for short-term gains, only to find out that was a disastrous decision. Likewise, cutting training costs as the first step in cost-cutting has hurt many companies.

Analytics is not about reporting, dashboards or complex math. It is about data-derived insights that drive better business results. Since analytics is the missing link that enables us to identify the top people drivers of the business results, three primary statistical methods are used to link people factors and business results — multivariate analysis, correlations and comparison of means/t-tests.  The InfoTool provides for all three analytics.

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