Telling Your Story with SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics

In the experience economy, a standard report with a lot of data doesn’t “do the trick.” While it may provide the data we want to share, it doesn’t share the story we want convey – or help how viewers will be able to absorb it. Now, more than ever, data visualization has proven to be a powerful methodology to present the information you want viewers to “experience.”

Data and analytics presented visually make it easier for decision-makers to grasp difficult concepts or identify new patterns and are easier for humans to perceive and digest. Where possible, consider using data visualizations over text in reports and always consider how it will look on a computer, tablet, PDF, or a mobile screen.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to Mike Hoekstra, People Analytics lead at GP Strategies, to discuss how to use and create stories to share data that may have traditionally been “just a report.”

Q: I hear a lot about visualizations and storytelling when it comes to data. What does that mean?

A: The brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text and 90% of data transmitted to the brain is visual (“Communicating Through Data Visualization,” Gartner 2019). Simply put, you will not be able to effectively influence others with data dumps alone. Effective data visualizations are imperative!

That said, the amount of data that HR teams are amassing in their SAP SuccessFactors solutions is enormous. There are many potentially impactful insights that can be pulled out of this treasure trove of data, but you need the right tools to create effective visuals and craft stories around these outputs to have an impact on your audience.

How are stories in SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics different from the existing SAP SuccessFactors solutions? And how can it help customers create visualizations?

Like the existing reporting tools, stories are included with your SAP SuccessFactors module licenses. Queries are built upon your SAP SuccessFactors transactional data and data access is protected by role-based permissions.

The stories in SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics include the capability to create bold, impactful charts and dashboards with data from across the SAP SuccessFactors portfolio. They use modern visualization tools from SAP Analytics Cloud and provide end users with the ability to easily interact with the charts and dashboards created.

In addition, SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding (formerly SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding 2.0) reporting is exclusively available in stories. And beginning in June 2021, learning data will become available.

In this pandemic era, the strategic spotlight has been shone on many HR programs, including employee experience, wellness, and skill development.  However, HR is not always perceived as a strategic leader. How can a SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics help change this?  

Indeed, HR is often challenged by an administrative or operational perception, and still today the impact of their value-add programs is not always appreciated.  In a recent pulse survey, 95% of CHROs felt that they played a lead role in their organization’s COVID-19 response (“The 2020 Lesson for HR: Think Big and Play the Long Game,” KPMG, August 2020).

However, the C-suite is still skeptical of HR’s strategic abilities: About 60% of CEOs and executive vice presidents still consider HR to be an “administrator” rather than a value driver (“The Future of HR in the New Reality,” KPMG, October 2020).

The ability for HR to showcase its strategic side hinges on being able to timely and accurately report on people data to demonstrate its impact.

Who can HR impact with stories in SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics?

I’d argue that every single employee in an organization should be using data to make decisions. With stories in SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics, you can share reports and dashboards with any employee in your organization and they will see only the data that is permissioned to them. You can get interactive visualizations and stories into the hands of nearly anyone in your organization, including line managers, division heads, and senior leaders inside and outside of HR. The potential scope of influence for HR is nearly limitless!

How are stories in SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics different from SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics? Do stories replace SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics?

No, stories do not replace SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics. Both solutions provide the ability to create dynamic visualizations with your HR data. But while story queries are against live SAP SuccessFactors transactional data, SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics extracts your data and transforms it into time-trending metrics and dimensions for more strategic analysis, including benchmarking, and can include non-HR data as well.

Since stories will eventually replace the existing reporting tools, some customers are concerned about needing to recreate dozens or even hundreds of reports. How do you suggest they approach this transition? 

First, the sunset of the existing tools is likely years away, so you don’t have to immediately recreate your reports in stories. That said, now is a good time to begin to learn about story features in SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics. Upon seeing the dynamic capabilities of stories, customers often quickly think of a dashboard or analysis that would be a good fit and then use stories to develop and share it. Going forward, existing reports can be recreated in stories over time.

To hear more on this topic, be sure to register for the upcoming webinar, “Use Stories in SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics to Maximize HR’s Impact in Your Organization” on July 13, at 11:00 a.m. ET, or visit sap.com/people-analytics.


Tammie Eldridge works in Solution Marketing at SAP SuccessFactors.