ASM, a supplier of semiconductor process equipment for wafer processing, founded in the Netherlands, believes in the importance of starting right. So when it started a people analytics team in 2017, the team comprised just one full- time person – Daniel Kusmanto, the firm’s Global Head, HR Analytics. Why? He explains: “There are companies that come in with a big bang; you’ll suddenly see in the newspaper they hired a head, and a bunch of analysts. But at ASM, we believe people analytics is more like a transformation journey that grows organically. It’s a bit hard when you’ve started off big, and then you keep measuring the ROI. You might even lose the idea of people analytics being a journey and not a destination. After all, it is always good to travel light for a long journey, right?”
Undoubtedly, it is never easy to start off something that transforms the way decisions about people are made in an organisation. In line with that, he highlights the three key pillars of transformation – people, process, and system, emphasising the importance of HR and IT collaborating towards a common vision and moving forward as one in the analytics journey. “Without this alignment, it is an uphill battle to make progress.”
On this journey, people are the hardest to transform. How was this challenge tackled? “As in marketing, we started off by segregating our target population and transforming them progressively, starting with the HRBPs who were considered one of the most important allies and important stakeholders that can bring data and analytics to the discussion table with senior business leaders.”
In encouraging transformation, he believes the team should become more like an evangelist by continually promoting people analytics and recognising opportunities to embed people analytics in decision-making.
He adds: “The next equally important segment is the HR leadership team, following which, we should move beyond HR to people managers and eventually all employees.” In encouraging transformation, he believes the team should become more like an evangelist by continually promoting people analytics and recognising opportunities to embed people analytics in decision-making. “Whenever we’re in the midst of a casual talk or regular meeting with colleagues, they may mention an issue they are facing – it can be in retaining talent, recruitment or compensation. In these instances, it’s important to identify any opportunity where people analytics can help with. Something where data can give them an insight into what is happening and what they can possibly do,” he said.
“At the end of the day, transformation is not a big ‘bang’. It happens bit by bit via the small interactions with data and analytics that create the ‘aha’ moments daily.” Overall, he shares the transformation journey and the growth of people analytics at ASM has been “quite successful” and that although ROI is yet to be established in dollar-terms, there is still an impact on the business. “Looking back at where we started with HR data still scattered and not much opportunities to retrieve insights, to today, where the results of people analytics are being discussed at the highest level in the organisation, thus triggering cross-department initiatives – it is indeed great progress.”
However, he is quick to point out the firm is “not there yet”. In fact, he believes there are many more uncharted territories in the organisation where people analytics can play a more significant role, such as workforce planning, organisational effectiveness, and so on.
Moving forward, he emphasises that people analytics leaders, as disruptors to HR’s traditional way of working, are being disrupted as well by ready-made analytics capabilities that come with HR technology platforms.
“Hence, we need to move away from transactional analytics towards blending business knowledge, HR policy and practice, and data analysis to break down a generic business question on people (e.g. if we have more headcount, why are the machines still producing the same amount and how can we boost this?) to many granular questions that, in the end, can be answered (perhaps not at 100% confidence and it will be in terms of probability) with people data and analytics.”
We need to move away from transactional analytics towards blending business knowledge, HR policy and practice, and data analysis to break down a generic business question on people.
This interview was published as part of a feature in Human Resources Online’s January-February 2020 edition of the Singapore magazine and will soon be published in the Q1 edition of the Malaysia magazine. Read the full story in the magazine below:
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