Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana
Some of the simplest questions are the hardest to answer:
- How has ‘x’ changed? For ‘x’ think salaries, bonuses, training days, someone’s grade and their set of responsibilities, competencies or conditions. These are key input measures.
- Is ‘y’ better or worse? For ‘y’ think performance, absence rates, sales per person, CSAT, attrition of high performers, time, cost and quality to hire/of hires… this could be a binary up/down, RAG or progress. Has there been a gradual improvement, a rapid change followed by stability, or a massive variation where it is basically impossible to say? The ‘y’ is a key outcome, measure, or KPI.
- Did ‘z’ work? For ‘z’ think training programmes, an investment, a new hiring channel… any decision or initiative where effort was made to improve things. Given all the decisions we make on a monthly basis, wouldn’t it be great to know their impact?
These are all historical questions. Questions that relate, implicitly, to things we tried to do and the human wonder as to whether they had an impact or not. Knowing what worked or didn’t is pretty fundamental. Knowing where you came from is crucial for helping to shape the future. It is all tied up in the basics of knowing yourself.
But, traditionally, this is extremely difficult. My goodness, most organisations struggle to even know where they are today let alone their past. My experience is that the majority don’t know many of the simplest fundamentals, e.g. who reports to whom, people cost by function, broken down by a simple dimension such as grade or location.
But let’s assume you have the basics for today. What about yesterday, last month or last year? Is this a bridge too far? Is that next year’s problem? I just want to know my headcount today.
The conventional method of viewing the past involves taking periodic snapshots of your entire dataset (using traditional BI databases and cubes). This is extremely expensive and wasteful – there will typically be a tremendous amount of overlap between snapshots, and it only allows you to recall the data for the moment you scheduled an update or remembered to run the back-up service. Setting this up also requires a great deal of analysis, verifying the requirements for history-preserving functionality. This must be done, because showing how things were at any point in time requires a much more complex and resource-hungry query than the standard current view of information.
So how would we do this in an ideal world? It is simply good business practice to update data on a regular basis. What we would like is for yesterday to just take care of itself. This is exactly what happens in OrgVue. Bring in your updates on a daily, weekly or monthly basis from our ERP system(s) and/or just update the data in OrgVue as things change – and hey presto, you have history. What OrgVue does is build history. Every change to every piece of data is recorded in what we call the ‘Event Store’. From the moment you have data in OrgVue and you change something, you are recording. No wasted space for bulky monthly snapshots, and information accurate down to the moment the changes were implemented.
We keep on saying that OrgVue is revolutionary. This is not just rhetoric. It is something we really believe.
Below are a couple of examples of history reports for sample data loaded into OrgVue via the simple upload tool, recreating history. We can see how the make-up of the company has evolved, or look at more complex metrics, such as how competencies and salaries within departments have progressed. We can split the data into as broad or fine categories as we like.
This is all becoming an extremely real function for our clients. Although we have been recording history for many of our clients for some time now, we have only just started to crack the performance and visualisation requirements to make it usable.
The power of the history questions you can answer are extreme. An example is a financial institutional client with 5-years of history we are loading into OrgVue for 14,000 employees across 50+ dimensions and measures. An example of one of their questions is; how successful is their high potential Exec Programme? They have been sending 80 of their highest potentials on a highly visible ‘away week’ that takes significant investment and board time. But is it successful? Have those who attended it stayed? Are they more likely to be promoted, to move, to continue to score exceptionally highly? Are those who report to them likely to have lower attrition or absence rates? OrgVue is answering that and many other fundamental questions. It is extremely exciting.
History doesn’t stop there of course. What we know today may not be accurate. Having the ability to update history, to set current, previous and future values for your data and project history backwards or forwards is a huge challenge in people-related data. Ultimately, OrgVue will allow you to correct the past and predict the future. That will be truly revolutionary.