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Tieto turns to analytics to boost recruitment and retention of IT staff

Tieto, which supplies IT technology and services in the Nordics, rolls out cloud-based HR services to gain an edge in recruiting and retaining skilled IT staff

Finland-based software and technology services company Tieto has rolled out cloud-based human resources (HR) technology across more than 20 countries, in a move that will help it recruit and retain highly sought-after IT specialists.

Tieto, which has a turnover of €1.5bn, aims to use the technology to give managers a clearer picture of vacancies, predicted future staff needs, and how long it will take to recruit new people.

The company, which has 1,000 customers in Sweden, Finland and Norway, is also developing virtual reality (VR) technology that will allow potential recruits to experience life in Tieto, and “meet” their colleagues, before they join.

“It is very difficult to hire in the Nordic market as there is shortage of digital talent,” says Katariina Kravi, executive vice-president of human resources, in an interview with Computer Weekly. 

Tieto had relied on an old, heavily customised version of SAP’s SuccessFactors HR technology, running across 20 countries, to manage its workforce. The technology had become complex and difficult to use, and was not easily accessible on mobile phones and tablets, says Kravi.

It took Tieto two-and-a-half years from the initial decision to replace the technology to go live with a replacement system. Most of that time was spent securing funding for the project and persuading the business to back the idea.

Reverse business case

The business case Kravi put forward focused on the value cloud HR technology could add to the business, rather than direct cost savings. There is real value in being able to hire people quickly and in making the technology simple for people to use, she says.

“I firmly believe there is a monetary value for simplicity of user experience. If managers have access to people data on mobile any time, and it’s easier to see, they will probably use people data more,” she says.

Teito evaluated a number of alternative HR technology suppliers. It wanted a system that was user-friendly, had the ability to access data using mobile devices, and offered the same user interface on every device.

“Then we looked at the roadmap [of the software products], and the way the products would develop in future. We realised we wanted analytics, and good peer-to-peer communication,” she says.

After assessing the potential suppliers, Tieto started contract negotiations with Workday. It took nine months to roll out the technology.

Around 30 of the company’s 130-strong HR team actively worked on the project. They were trained in Workday skills, by Workday’s experts on the project team, to help Tieto gear up to implement Workday projects on behalf of its own customers.

Retaining staff

Tieto has used Workday’s analytics capability to create dashboards that allow its senior managers to drill down into statistics and trends in the workforce.

One of the first projects for the HR department is using the system to analyse attrition rates to find better ways of retaining key staff. For example, the technology allows managers to see how many Java developers have left the company, their age group and background, where they worked, and what their salaries were.

“Let’s assume we have a shortage of Java developers, and you can look at recruitment lead time. If there is one region with a long lead time to recruit someone, you may decide to recruit from another region,” says Kravi.

The dashboards are able to show managers what skills they need to recruit, what people with what skills are being recruited, and how many new people are expected to join the company in the next month, for example.

Prior to the Workday implementation it was possible to do a basic headcount, but the HR department could only guess how many new people were in the process of joining the company, as Tieto had no central records of the people who had been given contracts and job offers.

The cloud-based HR technology has allowed Tieto to end its system of annual appraisals – an unpopular process in many companies. Instead, managers can get a snapshot of the performance of their team whenever they need to

“Having a good visibility of people in the organisation is critical. We are a people business. We are providing IT services in the form of projects and consultants, so it’s important for us to have a good view,” says Kravi.

The technology has allowed Tieto to end its system of talent reviews, which evaulate employees' potential and likely future performance, using a '9 grid' assessment tool. Instead, managers can get a snapshot of their team whenever they need to.

Next steps – analytics and virtual reality

Tieto is planning to deploy analytics technology that will bring together data from the HR system and other databases using IBM’s Talent Insights technology.

For example, it should be possible to analyse which projects are successful and those that are less successful, and to look for any correlations between the make-up of the teams that worked on those projects.

The company is also experimenting with virtual reality, and has built a demonstration system that will give job applicants the ability to visit Tieto’s headquarters and “meet” their potential colleagues through a 3D simulation.

The prototype system is geared to recruiting Workday specialists, which will assist Tieto in becoming a Workday implementation partner in the Nordics. But other parts of the business have requested similar VR-based recruitment for software developers and IT architects. “Everybody has been amazed. I believe it will attract better people,” says Kravi. “I want one for HR.”

Another project is underway to develop online learning programmes. Tieto has deployed technology from Cornerstone alongside Workday to manage and provide training. 

So far, there are several general learning streams, but the company plans to introduce deep, role-specific training in 2018, which will be accessible on mobile devices or computer screens. “Our intention is to build it, and constantly increase the number of streams,” says Kravi.

Teaching the workforce

Technically, with Workday carrying out the implementation, the project went smoothly. The challenge was in training the HR team and the workforce how to use the full capabilities of technology. “People see recruitment numbers and say ‘wow’, but that is very basic,” says Kravi.

Tieto’s HR department is now training its HR staff in basic analytics skills, and over time, will recruit HR specialists who understand analytics. “All of them are quite heavily involved at the moment, building analytics and coaching managers,” she says.

The company has had to rework its HR processes, to design them around the needs of managers rather than HR staff.

In hindsight, Kravi says if she revisited the project, she would put more work upfront into designing HR processes that meet the needs of managers. “I would put more focus on HR training in analytics, and become curious in opportunities from analytics,” she says.

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