One could be forgiven for thinking of data analytics as a relatively recent practice. In fact it dates back to at least the late 19th century. In the last decade, however, demand for data analysis solutions has surged.
But what is data analytics? Before going any further, it’s worth settling on a definition:
Data analytics is the management of sets of raw data, and the process of analysing it, in order to draw conclusions about the information it contains. Data reporting gives the information – the ‘what’. Data analytics gives the insight – the ‘why’.
The bigger picture
Global Mobility (GM) teams have by no means stood still in terms of data analytics, having invested in solutions that will automate some or all of their operational tasks. These provide the necessary reports, analytics and metrics to make more strategic decisions – which in turn will benefit the business by helping it meet objectives, such as improving compliance, employee welfare and diversity, or even cutting costs.
Taking a look at the bigger picture, it’s fair to say that three factors – (1) business objectives, (2) the ever-evolving technology available on the market, and (3) the GM functions endeavouring to become more strategic – have come together and driven each other on, thereby encouraging organisations and GM teams to adopt a more ‘proactive’ approach to analytics, rather than just a ‘reactive’ one.
By ‘reactive’, I mean using analytics in response to an event happening, to find out how and why things went wrong. By ‘proactive’, I mean organisations actively attempting to prevent negative events from happening in the first place. While many GM teams had already started to be more analytically proactive before 2020, the pandemic highlighted the benefits of that approach to such a degree that we have seen numerous clients following suit, in many cases investing in software systems such as ECAEnterprise for this very reason.
ECAEnterprise is an Assignment Management System that offers flexible frameworks for creating salary calculations and cost estimates for any assignment length or policy type. It comes with a database to easily store all the details and important documents relating to assignments undertaken by your organisation’s mobile employees.
The ECAEnterprise database enables GM teams to analyse and report on any type of information they choose to store within the system. The variety of reports that can be generated is therefore virtually limitless.
ECAEnterprise gives you access to all the metrics you need for a full picture of your own mobile workforce – from the finer details of, for example, a benefit provided to a specific group of assignees; to high-level overviews and trend analyses of your entire mobility programme.
If you think you don’t have any data... you do! Every department in every organisation has data, simply by virtue of existing and operating. However, having data is one thing, but being able to harvest it and turn it into an easy-to-interpret visual medium is what makes it powerful. ECAEnterprise allows exactly that.
ECAEnterprise’s reporting functionality enables organisations to create clear and attractive reports on all of their assignments and provides them with at-a-glance statistics on their expatriate populations.
Knowing who your assignees really are, not just as individuals, but as a collective, is crucial. ECAEnterprise not only shows the demographic trends in your GM programme, but also potential areas of concern. Whether you wish to increase assignee diversity or find out why assignments fail in a particular region more than others, the reporting functionality will give you the necessary insight into your assignee population to be able to plan proactively and strategically.
The last 12 months have also highlighted the need to incorporate reporting as part of the crisis management process. All eyes have been on GM departments because, when it comes to the management of employees abroad, they are the experts. Having vital information to hand, for example about accompanying families, where they are from, what documents they have already or now need, and so on, enabled companies to act quickly in making sure their employees abroad were, first of all, safe and, secondly, compliant.
Data analytics is also crucial for managing costs, a subject that has topped many business agendas for years. The reporting tool enables GM managers not only to easily view how much their entire mobility programme costs in a particular month or year, but also drill down to specific assignment populations, based on location, policy type or any other form of demographic filter.
Cost overviews are useful not only for finance departments, but also for GM teams who might wish to carry out a policy review, perhaps to highlight rising costs requiring attention. Similarly, comparison reports can be created to easily show how changes to existing policies would impact assignee packages or, at salary review time, to see how new packages compare with old ones – allowing GM managers to be proactive in support of those that have been impacted the most.
The functionality can also be used to help managers with compliance. In just a few clicks, traffic-light reports can show at a glance any assignees whose documents are expiring within a set period of time – enabling managers to once again be proactive, rather than react in a rush at the last minute or after documents have expired.
Essentially, data analytics is enabling GM teams to make changes happen and help meet company objectives. Mostly, the needs being met are cost or compliance related, but we also see clients use analytics for aims such as increasing diversity in mobile workforces, and reviewing existing assignment policies or creating new ones.
There is much talk these days about GM functions becoming more strategic and managers wishing to have a ‘seat at the table’, but without meaningful insight or metrics such ambitions can be hard to achieve. Data analytics can be invaluable not only to secure an invite to that ‘table’, but also to devise, support and present strategic solutions when you get there, alerting senior managers to both the business benefits of analytics and, importantly, which department such added value might come from.
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