The role of data in managing resource
The main members of the XCiPi team have spent many years working with software application designed to assist and manage the deployment and utilisation of resource. Using the technology that was available could on occasion involve highly convoluted processes. The main reason for the complexity was that much of the information to manage resources came in many different formats; for example consider the onboarding of a resource in another country. This could involve, transaction details derived from travel tickets, compliance details derived documents such as visas or work permits. Aside from different physical formats, every country would also have different and changing requirements in respect of legislation, the documentation of which would need to be under some kind of version control. Collecting data direct form accessible data stores may sound simple but each source of data would have its own schema and structure. On top of this much of the information appears in different formats, as PDF’s, HTML web pages, WordProcessor docs, spread sheets etc.
The management of resources is not confined to onboarding to a new location it also covers qualifications, experience, skill checks, medical histories, and so on. The effective management of these elements becomes more critical as the value of the resource gets higher. To find out a top performer or specialist is not available or compliant at the 11th hour can have massive financial implication.
The difficulty of extracting information from data
One of the main obstacles to smoothing this complexity is that although all the data required to transact the management of a resource may exist, it is contained in disparate forms and siloed; the data from many sources needs to be blended, sorted and made accessible to search and query routines. A large team of people are sometimes assigned to managing such procedures but without the right tools this can also lead to more silos. The legal team may check, and review contractual documentation, the compliance team may assemble and check qualification and experience records, the operational team will research and refer and purchase transit, accommodation and other logistic requirements, those responsible for managing and placing the resource may have started the process before all of the above teams set about their tasks and then arrive at a point where the deal can not go ahead, due for example to some relatively minor non conformity in a compliance requirement. A deal lost but also face and goodwill lost as well as the cost. The resource may have negotiated for their side of the offer, the client may have gone through a similar and protracted route and the resource manager putting the deal together will have spent much time and expense acting between the parties.
There have been changes to how solutions to these difficulties can be overcome, cloud based applications are using new tricks and new combinations of technologies to make working with complex data a simple matter.
Data centric resource management in sports
It may sound a bit cynical to consider a sportsman a commodity but this is what they are in the human resource arena, it is also an area where measurable data can point to the value of the product. In an earlier post I mentioned how a report that highlighted that ‘Within the world of sport there are many notable examples not just of the clever use of data, but of a drive towards data-driven thinking.’ and using the example of the British cycling team it noted how ‘cycling avoided silos of analysis, which curses so many businesses.’* Once again silos are recognised as a major block to gaining knowledge. As sport is fundamentally about about resource it is interesting to see how data can be used in managing these resources. The first thing that comes to mind is how much data is available. “Arsenal has recently invested millions in developing its own analytics team to make better use of the data it is now collecting” … “The system by sports analytics provider Prozone tracks 10 data points per second for every player, or 1.4 million data points per game. The system is also used to monitor 12,000 soccer matches around the world, which are all analyzed using automated algorithms as well as manual coding of every interaction with the ball to increase the accuracy and value of the analysis.”* give an indication of the scale and amounts of data that is regularly collected. New ways of collecting data have emerged, particularly in the field of wearables. Fifa have now allowed wearables to be worn “IFAB agreed in principle to tracking systems, provided the data is not used during the game”. Devices such miCoach, provide performance data that can be captured during training sessions. This data collection is not confined to team use however, there are a host of devices where individuals can capture their own health related information. If we are looking at managing a resource the more information that can be collected on the performance of that resource over extended periods of time can be a powerful asset. When we start thinking about what can be done with it IBM has is working with with sport team the Toronto Raptors to pull “in data from a variety of sources including statistics, video, social networking sentiment analysis, medical records and much more. It compares this data against the team’s needs, a player’s likelihood of succeeding, staying healthy and working well with coaches and teammates for the duration of the contract.”
Having identified valuable resources through analysing data is just one part of managing them as resources, as I mentioned at the start of this article the logistics of the onboarding process is all about data. As the geography of where resources are sourced and are then placed is global the variation increases, as does the speed at which things can change. Transport and accommodation would appear to fairly simple examples of the logistics that are involved in placing a resource but once borders are crossed a host of complexity can emerge, visas, work permits do not just need to be arranged they need to be tracked, as they have expiry dates. Sifting through the documentation can become very taxing when done at scale, mistakes are common and can be costly so getting the data into one place where it can be easily queried is essential, I have known of recruitment agencies with just a few thousand contractors run large departments to perform just this simple task and get it wrong because it involves so many disparate data sources. Extracting the data and holding it in a searchable state is just a part of what can be done to ease the problem, analysing this type of data can give information on what time frames visa renewals and requirements for a certain national in a certain territory may be needed. Compliance is a big subject when managing resource, are those qualifications attested, is that document in need of renewal?
Performance monitoring is another area that can generate large amounts of data and can extend beyond just results on the field or in training. Social media provides a different view and perspective from the controlled measurements that trainers and coaches are close to. Reports in the media, public views on Twitter or facebook can lead to insights into how well a resource is perceived and seen, this in turn can give indications of how well they are fitting in at their current position, and if they are likely to be seeking an alternative. Any resource manager of high level talent will scour the clippings and public sources of information, once this could be done by grabbing cuttings from a few papers, now media is vast and spread across many channels. All this media content can be captured, sorted and subjected to analytical processes such as sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is capable of pointing out some things that even the experienced reader may overlook, because it can be carried out across great swathes of data very quickly and in real time.
Managing any resource will more than likely benefit from have as much analysable data at your fingertips as possible at your disposal. Managing a human resource is one area where having data on that talent, managing the talents portfolio of assets and the data that is around the placing of the talent can be a massive advantage. For high value resources, where a long term agency relationship is likely, it could be critical and cover the life cycle from talent identification onwards.