This content is part of the Essential Guide: Making the shift to continuous performance management

Align employee performance and strategic workforce planning

New performance management tools can better connect employees to an organization's overall objectives, provide data for workforce analytics and improve operational excellence.

Workforce analytics is increasingly being used to help boost the performance of employees and achieve better business outcomes.

Global giants such as Schneider Electric, for example, are using data to manage talent and connect performance to strategic workforce planning. The company, based in France with 180,000 employees, uses BetterWorks to align the goals of workers with the goals of their team and the entire company to aim for better results for the business.

BetterWorks is among the leaders in next-generation performance management software that is used in strategic workforce planning for organizations. Other examples are Workboard, used by oil-services provider Schlumberger, and 7Geese, tapped by medical device maker Medtronic, according to a report by Forrester Research. Some of these applications can also gather data from financial systems to measure employee performance.

In an interview, Kris Duggan, CEO of BetterWorks, said he is starting to see "a gold mine of data" coming out of organizations that use his product.

To improve strategic workforce planning, BetterWorks can integrate with an organization's human resource information system; Salesforce customer relationship management; and financial systems from vendors such as Tableau Software, which provides business analytics.

A company, for example, might have a goal to save $1 million on annual travel and expenses. The data in Tableau can be pushed to BetterWorks so employees can track progress on achieving those savings and their contributions to the effort.

Performance management vital for rest of talent management

This month, BetterWorks rolled out a new strategic planning module that will allow users to better connect their one- to three-year strategic plans with execution of quarterly goals. With the new module, organizations can divide annual plans into quarterly goals; update and communicate strategy as priorities change; and designate people, money and planning for more effective strategic workforce planning.

If a company wants to succeed, performance management is a good place to start.

Employee performance software is also critical for other areas of talent management such as onboarding, succession management and learning.

Cornerstone OnDemand, SAP and Oracle offer case studies on their websites that illustrate how performance management software helps ensure success. For example, SAP user Edgewell Personal Care Products discovered that a deep understanding of talent can inform workforce planning and reporting.

Software can be important in strategic workforce planning, but so are the people in charge of the effort.

Panelists at the HR Technology Conference last year in Las Vegas emphasized that HR data analytics is often only as effective as the partnership between data scientists and business managers. Executives at Morgan Stanley and Chevron provided some inside tips on promoting an alliance among business managers and HR data analytics staff.

RJ Milnor, manager of planning, analytics and reporting at Chevron, said a soft touch can help when working with managers on the business side. To set the stage for the best strategic workforce planning, it is sometimes best to avoid providing all the answers for business leaders, he said. What works best is to help business managers ask the questions they might not have considered.

Success at workforce analytics usually requires strong people skills, not just fancy software.

Next Steps

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