Work has changed. We all know how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the way many of us go about our professional lives. A new approach to more remote workplace connectivity is thought by some (but not all) to have exerted a lasting impact upon office life that may yet pervade. 

Whether we do all gravitate back to our sandwich and watercooler-based existence in commercial work premises or not, the way in which companies have had to retrain and reskill employees has been insightful.

Without daily employee exposure to the management function, businesses have had to assess where their workforce is operating effectively and where it needs support, repurposing and perhaps even culling in an altogether more random fashion, sometimes even just relying on gut instinct.

Operational workforce planning

Irfan Khan, president for SAP HANA and analytics and Jill Popelka, president at SAP SuccessFactors argue that now, in our wider post-pandemic recovery period, leaders need to rely on more than gut instinct or intuition. 

They need to be able to forecast the likely impact of their business decisions and be able to gain real-time enterprise-wide insight that they can trust to make faster and more informed decisions going forwards.

“Given the scale of workforce disruption that enterprises faced last year – and will continue to face as workplaces evolve – we are pleased to introduce new capabilities that integrate people data from SAP SuccessFactors software into SAP Analytics Cloud,” wrote Khan and Popelka, in a product analysis breakdown.

The insection of data intelligence & HR

We obviously know SAP for its ERP pedigree and its wider work in cloud, data analytics and database technologies. During the last decade, we have of course seen SAP acquire technologies including Concur for expense management and SuccessFactors for Human Resources (HR) and Human Capital Management (HCM) functionality.

This is perhaps a new intersection point for SAP’s data-crunching backend and its frontline business functions – and the company claims to now be working to embed cloud-based planning capabilities across its entire solutions smorgasbord.

SAP will now offer real-time planning and analysis as a new operational workforce planning and analytics capability, delivered as pre-built content, to integrate and visualise data from SAP SuccessFactors solutions and SAP S/4HANA via SAP Analytics Cloud. 

Khan and Popelka call this the combining of people, financial and operational data in one place in order to help management discover, visualise, plan, predict and ultimately make unbiased and data-driven decisions. 

Regenerative post-pandemic sentiment?

In fairness to SAP, (although the company may be reserve-engineering the way it conveys its product marketing messages to shape towards regenerative post-pandemic sentiment) this is arguably exactly what remote managers needed when they couldn’t see or talk to their workforce in person during lockdowns(s). 

The new capabilities from SAP allows managers to:

  • Combine finance data and predictive forecasts to explore areas of high sales and adjust hiring accordingly
  • Align employee skills with the needs of the business by assessing growth opportunities based on pipeline and market opportunities
  • Combine experience data with performance and trends to glean insights into projected levels of employee attrition and simulate the business impact

“With this capability, leaders can better understand what makes employees thrive, spot risks and create a workforce strategy that is reflective of employee needs and supports ongoing business transformation. Embracing a data-driven approach will help businesses as they face multifaceted challenges, such as hiring, reskilling and retaining talent, improving diversity, equity and inclusion and driving cultural change to support ongoing transformation,” conclude Khan and Popelka.

Although we are all collectively still working towards finding and defining any wider definition of what the new normal is supposed to look like, the ability to use data more directly and adroitly to manage human workflows has to be the way forwards.