Centrica deploys HR analytics dashboard to inform faster decisions

Bluefin developed a BusinessObjects dashboard, enabling Centrica HR to improve decision making with easy-to-access workforce analytics.

Centrica is a £21bn-turnover energy giant with nine subsidiary businesses and a workforce of nearly 33,000. Its SAP system delivers a wealth of data for the HR function. But monthly HR management reports were running to 30 pages and the HR IT team realised there was huge potential to improve access to this information for decision-makers across the business.

After attending a Business Intelligence and HR Interaction seminar, Rob Cook, Centrica's Head of HR Business Solutions, recognised there was a better way to disseminate data. Despite a tight deadline and limited budget, Bluefin was able to leverage its in-depth expertise with SAP BusinessObjects to deliver an interactive dashboard, giving users quick and simple access to a wealth of information.

Now, Centrica decision-makers can easily drill down to look at company numbers, highlighting key trends by business area. It enables senior managers, particularly HR, to monitor employee performance and assess whether business metrics are being met. The system has been extremely successful and other departments are looking to follow suit.

The business challenge

Centrica's HR function was using SAP Business Warehouse and while it was generating a wealth of information on headcount, leavers, promotions, skills and more, getting this data to decisionmakers was challenging.

"We had to extract data from SAP Business Warehouse, import it to Excel and crunch the numbers to produce a 35-page data package. The sheer size of the reports meant people didn't read them. We needed to present the data in an interactive, user-friendly way." Rob Cook, Head of HR Business Solutions, Centrica

The Centrica team didn't have any preconceptions about a new approach.

"Some areas of the business wanted a detailed reporting tool, while others were after a high-level dashboard. In HR, we were clear we wanted to improve our engagement with the business.We also needed a short, sharp project to demonstrate how HR could drive the organisation forward." Rob Cook, Head of HR Business Solutions, Centrica

Rob attended a Bluefin workshop where SAP's Xcelsius Dashboard was demonstrated.
"With Xcelsius, we realised we could leverage our existing SAP solutions. It was the right fit for our needs and the cost of implementation was attractive." Rob Cook, Head of HR Business Solutions, Centrica

The project

"The Centrica board wanted quick results and the budget suggested a fast turnaround implementation." Rob Cook, Head of HR Business Solutions, Centrica

User requirements for this type of project vary across an organisation of Centrica's size. Tailoring a system to meet user needs is a balancing act. Centrica could see the potential of moving to a full-blown portal for HR data but was acutely aware of time and budget pressures.

Another consideration was user adoption. If the objective was to enable Managers easy access to useful analytics, allowing them to make more informed decisions, the system had to be user-friendly. "We knew dashboards would address the problems by delivering data as highly interactive visualisations and incorporating the analysis being done by managers down- stream," says Mike." Users see relevant informationmore clearly. For example, if you click on a section in a pie-chart, it immediately generates detailed data analysis."

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it

  • Fast access to quality data so topics can be viewed by relevance, spot trends and opportunities and react proactively to evolving situations.
  • Track Key Performance Indicators that are relevant to the business and spot workforce trends.
  • Reduce time spent analysing employee data, e.g. recruitment and attrition or sick leave.
  • Chart HR’s progress in meeting strategic and tactical business objectives.
  • Monitor costs, e.g. employee benefits.
  • Time spent collating and consolidating data can be spent on other value-adding tasks

"People are amazed the same data from a 30-page document is now available in a five-tab dashboard. The interactive charts draw people in and provide easier access and greater depth to the same information". Rob Cook, Head of HR Business Solutions, Centrica

The need for flexibility

The sheer power and openness of the dashboard solution gave rise to an increased desire to expand the project scope.

"As a project manager by training, I know the danger of scope creep. But as a customer, I was constantly pushing the project scope. Bluefin handled it extremely well, balancing our need for speed with our requests for functionality and adapting their cost structure to match any reductions in complexity. We now have a product we can build on for future applications." Rob Cook, Head of HR Business Solutions, Centrica

The Bluefin advantage

Rob was immediately impressed with the Bluefin teamassigned to the project.

"Bluefin didn't just waltz in and take over the HR IT function. They sat alongside our team, passing on their knowledge which meant we understand exactly how the system works".

"Sometimes consultants don't interact well with the IT department but Bluefin really lived the motto we have of being one team." Rob Cook, Head of HR Business Solutions, Centrica

The result

Centrica is delighted with the system.

​"It showed the HR function – and the rest of the business – what can be achieved. Finance and procurement love the system and want to use it for analysis. The dashboard has opened eyes throughout the business highlighting the possibilities this kind of technology can offer."
"It has allowed us to form much stronger views on the potential of using our SAP system to deliver significant benefits across the business." Rob Cook, Head of HR Business Solutions, Centrica

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