5 min read

How to Build a Business Case for People Analytics

As a people analytics professional, you may be tasked with explaining the business case for a people analytics solution to your coworkers and leadership. To do this, you must be prepared to address any potential objections they may have. 

If you're wondering how to sell your ideas up the chain of command or across departments, here are some tips to help you prepare for those conversations, navigate any obstacles, and bring the right people analytics platform into your organisation: 

Talking to your CFO and CIO

Most HR leaders already understand the importance of people analytics. The leaders who typically create the most hurdles for investing in people analytics are CFOs and CIOs. Let’s explore each.

Discussing people analytics solutions with your CFO

CFOs are most concerned about budget and how the expense will impact the company’s bottom line. Suppose a budget has not been secured yet. In that case, it will be challenging to convince the CFO to invest in people analytics solutions when the company already spends a significant amount on other platforms. Therefore, you need to restructure your business case as an investment that will lower the overall people expense by giving insights into areas that deliver clear ROI such as reducing attrition, informing the talent acquisition efforts across internal and external resource, feeding a more data led workforce planning strategy and equipping people leaders with the insights they need to make their area of the business more efficient. Connecting business benefits to a return on investment is key.

Discussing people analytics solutions with your CIO or CTO

Generally, technology leaders of larger organisations want their tech teams to be building the company’s tech solutions. They don’t want their resources to go overlooked or underutilised. So it's understandable that CIOs or CTOs might be concerned about purchasing a product that they don't have to build themselves. They may also have reservations about the new solution’s level of security and compliance. To address these concerns, it's important to emphasise that investing in people analytics software, like One Model, doesn't mean giving up control of the data transformation process. Instead, it allows tech teams to focus on other critical tasks across the business. A few quick conversations with key members of that team will let you know which benefits to focus on when positioning to leadership.

Whether you’re talking to a CFO or CIO, the best way to build an effective business case for people analytics is to understand your audience’s concerns and needs.

Let’s go over strategies to make your conversations the best they can be:

How to Build Your HR Analytics Business Case

1. Work on your positioning.

To successfully advocate for people analytics in the workplace, practising and refining your approach is important. This means anticipating potential objections from your manager as well as your cross-functional colleagues and proactively addressing those concerns in your discussions. The best way to uncover these is to ask them some casual questions one-on-one like, “Have you heard of people analytics? What do you think about it?”

As we mentioned earlier, you need to know your audience and understand what they need to hear to fully embrace your ideas. You also need to consider what they don’t need to hear. Ask yourself, what are the top three points they need to hear and structure your conversations around that key information?

Need help with your positioning?

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Many HR leaders know their reputation is on the line when choosing an enterprise solution. Some go with the most popular tool, but popularity doesn’t necessarily ensure performance.

2. Use data to demonstrate potential impact

The most critical aspect of creating an HR analytics business case is to demonstrate how investing in it can make an impact on business outcomes such as employee engagement and retention, customer satisfaction, and financial performance. 

Showcase data points that support your business case for people analytics, such as market trends or research studies conducted by reputable organisations that show the value of HR analytics solutions. 

For example, generally speaking, each position that turns over can cost an organisation 33% of that position’s annual salary. Do you know how to calculate the cost of turnover at your company? Is that a metric you can pull quickly? If not, it may even be worth explaining how big of a project that is as an example of why investing in a tool is worth the budget.

3. Invite your team to consider the alternatives.

You always want what's best for the team and business, so it's important to encourage discussion and be open to alternative options and new ideas. Invite the team to help participate in problem-solving the company's needs by comparing people analytics with a different type of solution. 

This approach not only invites discussion and debate, but also ensures that everyone feels heard and valued. By working together to co-create solutions, you can achieve better outcomes and win support more easily. Plus, by involving everyone from the beginning, we can build stronger, more cohesive teams committed to the company's shared goals.

Talk through the alternative options of DIY, using a pre-canned vendor, or investing in One Model. Present each option's benefits, drawbacks, and value to the team, then encourage an open discussion and friendly debate to persuade your boss and colleagues.

 4. Share examples of successful implementations.

Circulating case studies and success stories from other organisations is a great way to show the value that people analytics can bring to your business. Show how they overcame similar objections, used data effectively, and achieved tangible business results.

5. Gather Allies

You should also identify key allies who can help champion your idea and offer support. Understanding where people will back you up can help you handle objections. Again, the best way to get this support is by having one-on-one conversations starting with open, generalised questions. 

Additionally, it's important to emphasise how your suggestion to adopt a people analytics solution aligns with the organisation's values and strategy and will ultimately benefit your manager and the company. By carefully considering and addressing these factors, you'll be well-positioned to gain support for your ideas.

6. Focus on benefits, not features.

Paint a picture of what life would be like after successfully implementing people analytics within the business — how it could make operations more efficient, cost less time and money (through automation and AI), ensure DE&I goals are met, and improve business outcomes. This will help people visualise and rationalise how HR analytics can benefit the business and make them more likely to buy in.

Establishing a framework for moving forward

After holding these conversations, the process doesn't necessarily end with a simple approval or rejection. If you get the green light, congratulations are in order! It’s time for you to get to work on implementing a people analytics solution.

But if your idea is rejected, don't be discouraged. Most innovators experience numerous rejections before eventually succeeding. Rejection is simply a part of the process, not the end of it. 

Regardless of the outcome, use this as an opportunity to understand the reasons behind the decision. This requires asking questions and seeking clear feedback from the decision-maker. For acceptances, this will give you points to come back to later down the road. For rejections, understanding their arguments and potential areas of concern will allow you to identify ways you can re-frame your solution differently. Understanding the thought process behind either decision will help you gain support from your ideas in the workplace on future projects.

In some cases, this feedback may even prompt the decision-maker to reconsider their position. If nothing else, seeking feedback can create a shared vision and establish a framework for moving forward. If you remain open to collaborating with others and working to address the issues that led to the rejection, there is a greater likelihood that leaders and managers will eventually commit to your idea and get on board.

For a great example of another company that had to sell internally and is now winning, read our Tabcorp case study.

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