How does a Global Head of People Insights create a people analytics roadmap?
- 5 Min Read
Ankit Saxena, Global Head of People Insights and HR Technology, PPG, shares his rigorous methods for creating a progressive people analytics roadmap
Although some leading organizations have reached a stage of maturity in their people analytics practices, most are in a stage of nascency. For such companies, concepts such as pattern analysis and predictive analytics are a future possibility rather than a part of a well-formed people analytics roadmap.
Ankit Saxena, Global Head of People Insights and HR Technology, PPG, has a history of establishing and scaling people analytics practices at organizations including MassMutual and HSBC. In this Q&A with HRD Connect, Saxena shares his rigorous methods for establishing a people analytics roadmap that enables project prioritization and satisfies stakeholders including those responsible for budget.
1. What are the important components of an initial assessment or audit when planning a people analytics roadmap?
Ankit Saxena: I’ve had the opportunity at three different companies to assess the right way for people analytics.
There are three things that I carry out.
Firstly, connect with the people. I meet with them to understand what is working, what is not working, and where the opportunities exist. I hear from them, through a set of examples, what exactly lies ahead for us and where we want to focus.
Second, assess the general state of people analytics in the organization. Every organization is in a very different maturity of their people analytics capabilities. Some are nascent with no foundational practices. Others have some foundational components and do some very basic work. Others are very advanced and are doing prescriptive and predictive analytics. This helps inform whether the first step is a foundational step or some basic analysis and where we can gather some quick wins to get sponsorship from stakeholders.
Thirdly, conduct a capability assessment of the people. This is more about whether we have the right skill set, which can help us in the near, mid, or long term. This may also show what processes we need to set up and the technologies we require. To make this succeed, you need to have the right people, skills, processes, and technologies to take it forward.
2. How do you tie the people analytics roadmap to business outcomes?
Ankit Saxena: If you require budget, resources, and sponsorship from the organization, you have to connect it to the business objectives. You cannot do the work in isolation and not look at the final objectives of the organization.
When the Great Resignation happened, for example, we understood how it affected the organization and where we needed to get involved. When you build a roadmap there are certain things you want to prioritize in a one-, two-, three-, or five-year period. But keep your ears and eyes open to business reality and when you can provide hard-hitting outcomes that the business appreciates.
Create the roadmap, but be prepared that you’re not always sticking to it, and you leave room open to the realities of the world we live in.
3. How do you prioritize goals or objectives at the one-month, one-year, and three-year mark?
Ankit Saxena: It’s a short and long-term approach. In that first month, I’m likely implementing anything that’s a priority. I’m also getting buy-in. So, I’m making sure we have the business case and that we have convinced core stakeholders that this is the right way to approach it and the long-term benefit that we are going to generate. We’re also conducting planning and allocating resources and budgets. If there’s no buy-in, go back to the baseline, build on what needs to be changed, and then go back to your sponsors or stakeholders.
For the long term, of course, we’re evaluating how we have performed against the principles that we set up. Have we been able to meet those goals or KPIs? There is robust monitoring to make sure we calibrate and re-assess whether we are going to make the objectives at the end of the one-year, two-year, or three-year period, depending on the length of the project.
4. Can you share an example?
Ankit Saxena: In my past roles, we implemented many business intelligence-related tools. These were two or three-year projects, not one or two months. We spent the first months assessing what was available in the market and what the impact of those tools was going to be in the short, medium, and long term.
Once we had a strong business case, we presented it to our stakeholders. Once we had the buy-in, we put our energies over the next couple of years identifying what we needed to prioritize. In this case, we prioritized some of the basic dashboards like attrition. From there, we went on to more complex projects to meet business demand and create value for the organization.
5. How do you form relationships with the stakeholders responsible for budget?
Ankit Saxena: If I have $100, why should I invest in you? I’ve often been asked this question by my seniors. You must create value and show a clear return on investment. It’s important to be authentic and credible, and that you don’t over-estimate or over-promise and eventually under-deliver. So long as you follow these principles, you’ll build a strong relationship. As soon as you misinterpret information or overstate your capabilities, you lose credibility and your opportunity for a stronger long-term relationship goes away. This is why those early assessments are so important.
The other point is to have continuous feedback with the same set of stakeholders, so you don’t lose sight of the business objectives. This keeps the relationship on track. Set very specific KPIs. If you are receiving these resources or starting this work, what change in behavior or outcome are you expecting to see? Look at the impact and build a robust mechanism to measure it. Collect inputs on a continuous basis rather than just once. Whenever you fall behind, take the inputs, share it with senior leadership, and agree on the changes to correct the course and bring the benefit as expected.