HR Analytics at Wells Fargo – Project that won KPI Partners the Specialized Partner of the Year Award for BI and EPM

I’m very pleased to announce that the project I bled and sweated over for nearly a whole year has won KPI Partners the coveted Oracle Excellence Award for North American Specialized Partner of the Year in BI & EPM (formerly know as the Titan Award).

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I led the KPI Partners team implementing HR Analytics from a PeopleSoft system for Wells Fargo, the worlds largest bank by Market Capitalization, with 300,000 employees and contractors.  This is the largest footprint of HR Analytics in the world to date, both in terms of data volume and their ultimate # users planned- all 40,000 managers in the company!

Although the project was a difficult challenge, we were able to implement a BI solution the way I believe it should be implemented.  A few key highlights below.  For more information, please see the presentation HR Analytics at Wells Fargo from this year’s Oracle Open World, or KPI’s own page on the award.

Enterprise BI

The Business challenge was substantial: dealing with 80+ HR Specialists and power users to design a set of definitions and a dashboarding solution that crossed 6 distinct LOBs plus Corporate HR.  We began with a proper BI approach as opposed to a report centric or even BI Apps centric approach: Begin with Business needs, identify Business Questions, how to answer them, prioritize them, then finally begin talking about reports.  In this pure top-down approach, a report is an output not an input; it is a solution to a problem not a starting point.  It was classic Enterprise BI, done on a massive scale.

Prototype-to-Production

The second major component of our approach and solution was the use of a highly iterative, prototype-to-production approach using OBI.  Beginning with a pared down set of the business questions and answers, we began developing visual solutions.  I personally had a good deal of involvement by solving the problem with the best visual, and recommending OBI features to build an interactive solution.

Starting with Excel mockups, we eventually moved the mockups into OBI once the base set of data was ready from the ETL team.  From there, over a series of 4 weeks, we continually refined the reports, pages links and even verbiage to end up at a final solution.  My role was to guide them along to ensure the best possible OBI version of their answers and ensure an interactive application  and not JBOR (Just a Bunch of Reports).  The benefit of this is it ensure you the best possible user adoption, as it was the users themselves who helped design the system.  Combined with the Enterprise BI approach, the outcome was exactly what they wanted as was echoed in the user and executive feedback.

Technical Solution for making multiple hierarchies end user frinedly, all folded in with advanced data security

The title of this section is very long on purpose: we had to bring together some very different requirements and objectives into a usable and flexible solution.  Although I have it documented in more detail in the attached PPT presentation, the gist of it was this:

  • Support for 2 different HR hierarchies (both 100% custom)
  • Plan the solution to support 2+ additional Financial hierarchies (future, both custom)
  • Allow for As-Is and As-Was versions of all of them
  • Easily change all reports on a page to reflect a simple user selection of the different hierarchies
  • Some of the hierarchies were up to 22 levels and contained 9 million rows
  • Allow for a HR Specialist to become someone else (like a VP)
  • Make sure data security follows the hierarchy you picked
  • Allow for different access levels by Subject Area (mostly Workforce vs. Recruiting)
  • Make it all usable
  • Make it all perform well
  • Make it all ad-hoc ready

Needless to say the design was challenging; in fact one of the more challenging OBI designs I’ve ever been a part of.  My KPI colleague Vinod Mathew and I worked on the solution for this and truly pushed OBI usability to new levels.  The resulting outcome solves all of the above challenges while making the UI even easier to use than a traditional solution for large hierarchies.  I’d propose that this solution is the best implementation of multiple hierarchies in the OBI world.

Performance

The ETL loading process for HR Analytics is necessarily more complex than other BI Apps.  One of the reasons is it has to compute multiple logical transactions out of one physical source transaction.  For example, several things about an employee might be changed at once, but in reality we want to count each one separately as a different type of event.  Thus, much of the ETL logic has to compute its own change data capture on full data sets.  Combined with a variety of other source issues and multiplied by the largest data set to ever flow through HR Analytics, the ETL loading process was extremely challenging.  My KPI colleague Ramesh Ponaganti, in conjunction with Oracle and Wells Fargo experts were able to perform near miracles on the ETL incremental load times.

This project was by far my most difficult project, and I’d like to thank the whole team for their efforts and contributions.  To be sure this has been a major source of satisfaction having the project be recognized by Oracle for overall excellence with their BI Apps.

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Posted on September 27, 2013, in BI Theory and Best Practices, Notifications and Updates, Oracle's BI Apps and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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