I’ve been obsessed with data and analytics for as long as I can remember. Early in my career, I had a burning desire to obtain as many facts and perspectives as possible to inform my decision-making process. Perhaps it was the eye-opening experience of listening to a group of managers evaluate their team’s performance based on flawed metrics and skewed data. Or maybe it was the numerous meetings I attended where impactful decisions were made without any data at all. Accurate data is the detail you need to tell compelling stories and make responsible conclusions in the workplace.
When it comes to your organization’s workforce management, how well would you say you are doing? Such a broad question tends to elicit responses such as “It depends on who you ask” or “It depends on the department or service line.” While most customers I’ve worked with over the years have understood the significance of harnessing data to improve decision making across the organization and achieve better business results, only a small percentage fully reap the benefits it has to offer.
I recently sat down with Marc Sasser, an analytics management consultant here at Kronos®, to tap into his expertise. Marc has been helping customers for decades and has over 30 years of experience in healthcare operations improvement. Whether you are embarking on the implementation of an analytics solution, are curious about the Workforce Analytics™ Gold Standard Reports, or are looking to enhance your existing analytics solution, this article will share valuable insights to help you along your Kronos journey.
When it comes to implementing Workforce Analytics, here are some common pitfalls Marc says customers should avoid:
- Executive Sponsors Disengaging Following the Sales Process: When executive sponsors hand a project over to technical teams upon signing the contract, end-users (business leaders, operational executives, and frontline managers) are often omitted from critical decision-making discussions throughout the project. The result surfaces after go-live when end-users mistrust the productivity data and perceive a lack of reporting value to the organization. Keeping executive sponsors involved ensures that the right team members are involved in the right stages of the project. Another aspect of the executive sponsors’ continuing role is to lead the organization through the change and ensure that there are accountable measures in place. There should be a rhythm to asking the right questions of department managers (i.e., what happened yesterday or the last pay period) and timing those conversations appropriately. Asking a department manager, “What happened last month?” according to Marc, is like asking someone why they drove more miles last month than the previous month and expecting a precise explanation. We can all agree that it is easier to remember details from yesterday than to accurately recall details from events that took place over the course of several weeks. As a side note, Marc referenced the Variance Improvement Planning (VIP) tool that is available in Workforce Analytics for Healthcare™. * This functionality helps facilitate the communication between executives and management on a biweekly basis. If a threshold established by the organization is exceeded, the manager of the department is prompted to explain the variance and outlines the steps they are taking to address the variance.
- Skimping on Training: It’s common for customers to want to save money on their implementation, and the first place they usually look for savings is in training costs. However, Marc cautions against this. “With instructor-led training, a management consultant goes on site and trains groups of department managers. This is the most effective path to ensure depth of understanding for end-users. The consultant brings his or her career expertise and shares real-life customer scenarios throughout the training, something that is often not passed down to managers in a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach.”
Customers who have already implemented Workforce Analytics often ask which reports are considered the Kronos Gold Standard.
- Six Pay Period Trend Report:* This is one of Marc’s favorite reports. It is biweekly, so the hours are based on payroll. “To me, it’s like a report card. There’s nothing I can do about it now, but I know exactly what happened. I know the numbers are right, and that’s how I did.”
- 14-Day Trend Report:* In keeping with the educational analogy, Marc likens this report to weekly quizzes that you get in class. This operational report reflects how well you’re doing in the current pay period and allows you the opportunity to adjust along the way so that you know where you will be at the end of the pay period. Catherine Siladi, regional manager, workforce management at Trinity Health of New England concurs. “This is the report we require all managers to review and report on daily. It not only shows the productivity trend throughout the period but also offers data on how to get back on track before the period is over.”
- Analytics Core Reports: There are several core reports that Marc recommends will provide valuable insight to organizations, particularly in identifying outliers in your data. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Incidental Overtime (<15 min.)
- Hours by Employee
- Overtime as a % of Hours Paid
- Float In/Float Out
- Actual vs. Scheduled Hours
- Per Diem Employees working full-time hours
- Any reports related to Pay Codes
As Marc and I meet with customers and listen to their challenges, we learn that many organizations may not be tapping into the full benefits of Workforce Analytics™. We’ve included a handful of questions as a litmus test to uncover where there may be opportunities within your organization.
How much time do you spend on payroll Monday? If your answer is payroll begins on Sunday, then it is likely you are missing out on the benefits of the 14-Day Trend Report (among other drawbacks of waiting to edit 14 days’ worth of timecards).
Are you still relying heavily on the manual collection and reporting of data? Not only is this time-consuming, but there is always the risk of errors being introduced.
Is it difficult to calculate productivity? If you are exerting tremendous effort performing data mash-ups or heavily manipulating data to produce a report to the organization, the culprit may be a Workforce Timekeeper foundational issue that needs to be corrected.
Are you relying on guesswork when attempting to justify additional position requests? With reliable insight into your team’s productivity and capacity, you can build a compelling business case for increasing headcount.
Do you have a high number of fixed departments or work units? Or even fixed components within a variable department? The more fixed the organization/productivity is, the less you are actually measuring.
Do you subscribe to the notion that you have to count everything? Be thoughtful about counting what matters to the organization. Know that there are scenarios where a fixed department can easily be turned into a variable department by using a meaningful global statistic as the variable target.
Regardless of where you are along the journey, Workforce Analytics™ can empower you with the reliable data you need to understand your labor issues and make more informed decisions. Monitoring productivity is just the tip of the iceberg!
“Workforce Analytics is so much more than a productivity tool. It is a bridge that connects finance, HR, payroll, and lean management all together and allows collaboration and the synchronization of ideas that benefit the entire organization,” says Catherine Siladi.
Our advanced analytics tools make it easy to identify problem areas so your teams can drill down into your data to uncover root causes and take appropriate action for better business results. Keep this in mind from management thought leader and author Peter Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
Marc offers a parting tip: If you have not already done so, set aside some time to think through the PDCA Cycle:
- Plan — Plan for executive involvement during and after implementation. Plan on putting someone in charge who knows the numbers and the users. Plan on training, and plan for expected results—another way of saying budget.
- Do — Keep it simple to start. Use the budget to create your targets. There’s no arguing that the target is wrong because it’s the budget! The other benefit to this is that you won’t get a productivity report showing one thing while a monthly budget report shows something else. Measure every department (even finance) and use 100% variable targets. Everyone is evaluated; no one gets a pass. Train.
- Check — Managers check their productivity results every day. Administrators check the accuracy of the data. Executives check productivity results in every pay period. Review VIP responses together.
- Act — Executives and managers need to meet regularly to review results and improvement plans to make course corrections. Keep communicating. Mentor managers so they know what to do and what to expect. Use the productivity results to help inform next year’s budget.
*Specific functionality exclusive to Workforce Analytics for Healthcare™