Why Is HR Reporting Strategy So Difficult to Define?

By Posted May 27th, 2014

Why is HR Reporting Strategy So Hard to Define?

UntitledI spent last week in Melbourne at the Mastering SAP HR & Payroll conference talking to customers and peers. During an afternoon discussion session with about 80 customers on Friday, we posed what should have been an easy question: “How many of your organizations have an HR reporting strategy?”

The question was met with deafening silence.

Many said they use SpinifexIT for reporting, but that is part of a solution, not a strategy. The greater question soon became, “Why don’t organizations have an HR reporting strategy?”

If you talk to CIOs, IT Directors and other IT leaders, they will tell you all about their organization’s reporting strategies. They understand the tools, data and outcomes. But, if you talk to HR and payroll professionals, they tell you that HR doesn’t have a strategy. HR is different, they say. Demands for HR reports tend to be more ad hoc or more reliant upon real-time data (rather than warehoused data that is used in many reporting strategies).

This might explain the silence we encountered, but it doesn’t mean strategies aren’t critical to HR. It’s quite the opposite. The changes happening in the HCM landscape today make the formulation of a reporting strategy even more important than ever.

Reporting strategies are unique from organization to organization, and HR reporting is no different. There are specific business-based needs, demands and limitations that drive the strategy. With that said, here are some common elements that need to be addressed in any HR reporting strategy:


Is the data coming from on-premise, the cloud or a hybrid? For many years, this was an easy answer, but it’s evolving and it clearly affects your ability to access and report on your data. Companies can’t wait until after a change in landscape has occurred to consider how it impacts reporting. By then, it’s too late.


What types of reports are required? Do you have a need for analytical reports? Planning reports? Transactional, operational or results-based reports?


How do you plan on creating and executing your reports? Do you use standard on-premise tools? SAP-certified tools like Easy Reporter? Or cloud-based analytical reporting tools like Workforce Analytics and Workforce Planning?


There’s a reason that warehoused HR and payroll reporting has seen limited success for most organizations: Most HR reports need to be run in real-time to have the most up-to-date HR, payroll, time and benefits data and results. Either way, this needs to be factored into the HR reporting strategy.


Reporting tools define how you will create your reports. Your strategy must go a step further and define how you will distribute or deploy your reports. Distribution and automation of reports is no longer a luxury. It’s expected. Do you integrate with an internal reporting portal? Do you use standard ESS or MSS functionality? Does your choice of reporting tools align with your desired deployment methods?

Given how quickly the HR and payroll landscape is changing today, it is imperative that you make reporting part of the strategy discussion. Failing to include reporting in your overall HR and payroll landscape and delivery strategies will severely limit the efficacy of your reporting in the future.