Workforce Analytics in the Agile Age

Analytics

CIOs are seeking to quantify the performance and productivity of their employees, for which they are turning to analytics, but it comes with its risks.

It is crucial for IT departments to measure the productivity of their staff, but maintaining a balance between increasing costs and boosting business outcomes is tricky.

Unfortunately, CIOs do not have efficient mechanisms and can’t accurately measure the quality of the contributions and the productivity of their staffs. Many IT leaders have started to address this data gap with some do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches, while there are also some start-ups that are making ‘workforce analytics’ tools to mitigate the issue.

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Benchmarking the job performance to the cost of each employee is something that CIOs are wrestling with as roles are different. The value ratio varies among s software engineer and a data scientist. It’s taking a taxonomical value approach to each person in the workforce chain. Until date, the methods that quantify labour have been old school. Some consultants charge big dollars to assess workforce performance. Professional consultants are also hired that shadow employees for weeks, write up evaluations, and make recommendations. But, with digital disruptions, the value of this approach has come into question.

Experts have opined that it’s no longer enough to clear the Net Promoter Score targets or even look inward to crunch employee satisfaction metrics. It is the nature of work that has changed. A decade ago, companies used to build software in ‘waterfall’ cycles that took them 18 to 24 months to ship products. Currently, companies deploy ‘agile’ teams to build software, in a week or two. CIOs now require new tools that measure output at the operational process and even at the task level.

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Many CIOs have also started embracing the DIY approach to workforce analytics. To measure productivity, some CIOs have created baseline metrics like tasks done per employee per month. The bottoms-up approaches to management keep the ‘self-policing’ agile teams follow schedules and team members on track. Some CIOs also use the in-house methodology and a combination of small tools that together help to measure the business functionality and the performance by an agile team on a given sprint.

IT departments have historically used spreadsheets to analyse employee performance. There are also a few start-ups that are expanding their functions to workflow analytics. GoLive is one of the applications that are extending its features to measuring workforce performance. Another one is a SaaS solution by Apptio called Agile Insights that measures the value delivery, labour utilization, and cost of quality. Fin Analytics is also building software that can help the enterprises better understand the way their employees complete their tasks.

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As these works are being developed to quantify the workforce performance, experts believe that the quantified approach poses its own challenges. Experts think that while quantifying the job of some roles, efficiency needs to be a parameter as well, in addition to deliverable quantities.

In addition, it has been observed that the CIOs who try to measure worker performance also run the risk of creating de-motivating levels of analysis that discourages teamwork. This goes against the expectations for agile teams.

The industry as a whole lacks tools for overall ‘workflow analytics’ that can problem-solving and business growth in place. Though the need for such analytics is high, they also have to be flexible with the continuous disruption that companies face.

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