Summer infographic

What if… PowerBI was your HR Analytics tool?

If you’ve been following HR Trends, you know there’s a lot of focus on Analytics – not only to analyze what is happening to the workforce, but also to predict future consequences of strategy changes and run “what if” scenarios. We’ve seen a lot of articles emphasizing the need to hire data scientists in HR.

Fortunately, you have the opportunity to “try before you buy” and start small. Microsoft has made its PowerBI tool set available for free online and there are others as well. I had the pleasure of beta-testing PowerBI and I was surprised firstly by how easy it was to set up a dashboard and secondly, by the power of the natural language queries, which make it fun to run a couple of requests and dive into the details of the ones you like best.

Signing up is easy, and PowerBI lets you set up connections to a number of services, none of which are HR (yet…). You can also create connections to databases or simply import a file. To run tests, I imported an Excel file with HR data, and I set up a connection to

After I uploaded the test file with employee data, the program automatically selected the fields from my table and I started to create reports like this, a graphical representation of the global employee spread:


There are many other reports you can create, and after you have done so, you can start analyzing them to discover trends: where is your workforce growing fastest, or what is happening to total employee costs and payments. The next step is to understand what that means for the future, so you can assess what you can do to influence certain trends to create a better outcome: e.g. if your company is growing the workforce in a high cost location, that might be something to look into. Maybe the required skill sets can only be had there, but more common, managers like to have employees close by instead of having to work with a virtual team.  Understanding what is happening, why that is and if you need to take action to create a better outcome, is critical to arriving at value-driven business insights.

So how about it? Are you ready to step away from HR reporting and try your hand at HR Analytics? And are you comfortable enough with data and numbers to field all the questions about the reliability of your data sources and thus your outcomes? Please leave a comment to let me know your thoughts.