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What should you know before buying analytics for HR?

The differences among workforce analytics, HR analytics, talent analytics and people analytics are confusing. Here's what to know before buying software.

As analytics capabilities expand across HR technology, the rise of new terms and the blurring of existing terms...

can often leave buyers and users baffled as to what is really what in the world of analytics. So, when it comes to analytics for HR, what are the important terms, and what do they mean? Here's a look at the four most common.

  • Workforce analytics is a combination of software and methodology that applies statistical models to worker-related data to create the best HR strategy as it relates to labor force issues, such as staffing and determining how best to fill skills gaps. Workforce analytics often combines a variety of different data -- sometimes from different sources -- to provide analytics across different domains and topics. For example, it may combine health and safety data with learning data to identify trends in worksite accidents and a correlation with health and safety courses taken by employees. This example could also include financial data to identify the net costs of compliance.
  • HR analytics is analytics specifically related to HR and talent management processes. Typically, it will cover such analytics as turnover, retention rate, various talent analytics, etc.
  • talent analytics focuses purely on talent management-related analytics and is sometimes a subset of HR analytics or people analytics. It may also form part of a broader look at workforce analytics
  • People analytics is a new term for HR analytics and for talent analytics.

Shopping for analytics for HR

Procuring an analytics package that can take data from any system -- regardless of the vendor or the system -- gives you more flexibility on what you can buy and what data you can use.

With the myriad of overlapping or interchangeable terms, how do you determine the right analytics for HR and what software best works for your company? While the subject is undoubtedly complex and dependent on your company's unique needs, here are three important features you should consider at the outset.

  • Vendor-agnostic: Procuring an analytics package that can take data from any system -- regardless of the vendor or the system -- gives you more flexibility on what you can buy and what data you can use. Many organizations have a range of systems across their functions from different vendors, and being able to report on data from these different systems is a critical advantage.
  • Range of analytics and measures: Although you may have your own analytical needs, having a library of pre-delivered analytics and measures can significantly reduce the implementation time, while also giving you a range of analytics that can provide value but might not have been within your initial business requirements or business processes.
  • Ability to create your own analytics: While having a library of analytics for HR is of huge value, any system you procure must give you the ability to create your own analytics so you can report on the specific needs of your business. Without this, you are only able to report on what the vendor allows you to.

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