How to effectively create a data management strategy whilst navigating multiple policy requirements.
By Jayson Saba
When operating across national and continental boundaries, HR and payroll professionals must navigate a monumental maze of requirements that can become quite stressful without the right resources. Generally speaking, the tasks that HR and payroll professionals are required to do can be broken out into three categories:
• Company policy: Professionals must comply with policies and processes that are unique to a company and are there to help conduct business in a certain way. It could be industry standards or policies that drive things such as efficiency, environmental and social responsibility, and cost savings.
• Negotiated agreements: They also must comply with collective bargaining agreements, supplier contracts, client contracts, or social/community contracts. These are negotiated rules but legally binding.
• Laws and regulations: Government (local, state, provincial, federal/national) rules and regulations that were passed through legislation need to be followed. The most obvious examples are labour laws, tax laws, privacy laws, and accounting rules.
These three categories are underlined by two inconvenient variables: They’re not the same in each country, and they’ll never be constant. As a result, compliance challenges are magnified. The three keys to handle compliance challenges are effective data management, employee and manager friendly self service, and a strong partner (solution provider).
Effective data management can often be the most difficult of these to navigate, so the first piece of managing global data-starting is understanding each category.
• Data inventory: The different elements of HR and payroll data fall into four categories: general employee data, workforce management data, documents, and extraordinary or elective elements.
There are usually rules that govern the housing of each of these types of data and these often differ based on country. Permission to access this data also differs based on individual roles, and some of this data is integral to running the business and impacts agility and decision-making. When it comes to global workforce management the three most critical questions to answer are:
• Is our workforce data stored compliantly?
• Is it accurate and dependable?
• Are we providing data to the right people when they need it?
• Data compliance: After completing an inventory of the different data categories, it is important to ensure that the rules governing data storage are understood. In a spreadsheet-driven environment and a dispersed workforce, this can be a major challenge. Increasingly, global organisations are seeking solutions that can help employers’ comply with the regulations of each country. There are important questions to consider especially when the answers can vary from one country to another.
• Accuracy and dependability: Enabled by technology advances, there is an ongoing shift in how companies view time and pay processes. A few years ago, it was difficult to imagine a holistic and accurate view of workforce data across different countries. Time and attendance solutions didn’t have real-time integration into payroll systems, and the result was often old or stale data in the area of labour cost reporting, which hinders a manager’s ability to stay within labour budget plans. In addition, these systems might have been so customised in the way they were built that it could be extremely cumbersome and expensive to create or expand reports to different parts of the workforce or the world. Along with the aforementioned compliance risk, trust in workforce data—especially global data—is the biggest challenge that faces organisations today when it comes to data management.
• Access to the right data: Along with accuracy, timeliness is necessary to ensure that managers are using the data for business impact. Managers need access to the data, and, unfortunately, spreadsheets remain the most popular reporting tool for these managers. Spreadsheets can be problematic because their computational limits can make the reports they generate outdated. Most employees have been on the receiving end of a weekly or monthly spreadsheet report. Assuming the data is accurate and trustworthy, how often is the data presented in a fresh way? Usually, these spreadsheets are compiled with so many different formulas, pivot tables, and macros, it is virtually impossible to dig deeper, wider, or gain insight that helps to proactively anticipate issues before they happen.
An effective data management strategy starts with an understanding of the type of data needed and how it should be treated. With the right approach and a realistic view of how data can be used, a successful global workforce data management strategy can be developed for compliance, trust, and business agility. Understanding the type of data needed and having a broad, comprehensive strategy to store and disseminate it is best accomplished by seeking expert advice, local expertise, and a technology built for the future.
Jayson Saba is vice president of market research and industry relations at Ceridian HCM.