A story about open data – Jo’s Story

Workforce Data needn’t be dull!

Workforce data might not be seen by all as the most exciting topic, but for those of us who work with it, it is critical to help us understand our workforce and to inform decision making.

It’s also a real headache and causes lots of work – in HR we get loads of requests for information and the current system doesn’t provide all the information that people need or in the format they want.

This then has a knock-on effect on the data itself – if people aren’t using it for anything useful to them then they’re not really worried about keeping data up to date.. Although there have been some developments on and off, we’ve never really got to the bottom of it and it’s led to workforce data having a ‘bad name’. In HR we’ve known about these problems for a long time and it really frustrates us!

I’d been talking on and off with Lucy Knight who’s a project manager in the Organisational Change team about these problems. We’d talked about various ways of getting key workforce data ‘out there’, linked to potential developments regarding a Corporate Dashboard, but we hadn’t really got very far, for various reasons. However, then along came Open Data, Microsoft PowerBI and some interest from Adult Services and suddenly it felt like we were getting somewhere!

During 2015 we’ve worked primarily with Adult Services to pilot a new HR Dashboard, using Microsoft PowerBI. We’re now able to report key workforce data for Adult Services – things like headcount, vacancies, turnover and sickness absence and even break it down to particular roles, like social workers, social care assessors and occupational therapists. By working with Stephen Jenkinson in the Adult’s Management Information Team we’ve been able to also include appraisal, qualification and supervision information and Stephen is able to pull key workforce data charts from the HR Dashboard into the Adult’s wider service reporting framework.

By doing this we’ve also been able to get the data up to date – the more people that see the Dashboard reports, the more they recognise the importance of keeping the source data accurate. It’s helping us to streamline processes within HR and to provide more ‘user friendly’ guidance to managers. We’re also finding that it’s leading to further discussions between different functions – for example, how we can better link with finance data like staff budgets, to provide one holistic report.

We’ll be going fully live with the Adults HR Dashboard at the end of January and then updating it on a regular basis. It’s still not perfect and we still have a lot of work to do, but it feels like we are going in the right direction. Although in a ‘perfect world’ we’d want to have one system which does all of this for us we recognise that in the short-term that’s not possible and at least by doing what we are doing it means that there’s something useful out there for managers and HR to use.

Initially, this was never really a part of my job but I could see that it was something that needed to be done, which would also help me with doing my job in HR Strategy and therefore I kept ‘going on about it’ to anyone who would listen… Luckily Lucy could see where I was coming from, how it fitted with what she wanted to achieve and therefore we have stuck with each other! At times I think Lucy and I have felt like giving up with it all and putting it on the ‘too difficult’ pile, but we have persevered and when you start to see results it spurs you on to keep going. There are so many positive benefits to doing this and the more people see what we’re doing the more they ‘get it’ and want to get on board and help. Thanks to all of those who are helping us on this journey!

Leave a Comment