Sandra Swanepoel, sales director of Softline VIP Payroll, says that as South Africa is not exempt from the economic slump, businesses here are also hard pressed to find ways to improve operations, increase profits, and streamline processes.

Companies often spend vast amounts of time coming up with plans and roadmaps that will help them to realise these transformations, but most fail to execute on their strategies. Furthermore, many don’t appreciate how significantly workforce management influences a company’s performance.
BI is helping Human Resources (HR) departments provide answers to the questions that have a direct bearing on an organisation’s strategy. Questions like: Which employees are ready for management positions? What will our staffing needs be in five years? Who are the most productive employees across the company?
“With answers to these questions, HR can identify trends that lead to a better understanding of how to maximise human capital. Positive trends can be leveraged for greater value and negative trends can serve as an early warning system to spur corrective action before problems become too big,” Swanepoel says.
She believes HR departments should ideally focus on specific key areas of the business which need improving. Then the drill down exercise can begin. To bear a significant impact, the improvements should also align with the long-term strategy of the business; be part of the vision of the company.
“It’s not enough for HR to manage administrative issues. They need to play a more strategic role in business and they cannot afford to rework information before informed decisions are made. BI tools will assist HR in aligning payroll costs with the vision of the company by being able to examine areas in which the business can improve.”
To monitor important aspects of remuneration like overtime, productivity and the effectiveness of remuneration schemes, it becomes extremely important to have meaningful and clear reporting. BI allows HR to pick up on trends such as salary distribution by grade or performance, which is impossible to do when data is unstructured and disparate. As it becomes more difficult to retain talent it is imperative to manage this effectively and to be proactive instead of reactive, Swanepoel says.
“BI is about getting the correct information to the right decision makers at the right time. Furthermore, data can be deployed across the company at a rapid rate, allowing managers to ‘drill’ into reports for more detail. This gives businesses the opportunity to move between commercial and strategic decisions quickly and easily. It is not enough for HR to simply manage administrative issues. Real value lies in using a fact-based analytic approach to solve business problems and providing a longer-term viewpoint about how the organisation should adjust to environmental changes.”
Swanepoel concludes by saying that it is of course critical to make sound decisions across the business today, regardless of which division or business unit it is. However, since HR and payroll are often the biggest expense bearers of the business, it makes sense that this is where you should start using BI to its fullest. The critical insight BI can deliver here can only improve corporate goals and performance.