Lawson Ships Analytics

Lawson Software (Minneapolis) unveiled a suite of tools designed to help executives benchmark their company's HR practices. Lawson's Insight II Analytic Suite 2000 includes a Workforce Analytics component that incorporates benchmark data from Saratoga Institute, an HR research firm.

Relationship management systems need to extend to employee and vendor data as well as customer information, says Richard Lawson, CEO of Lawson. Lawson's solution is designed to take "the information we have in our HR system down on the [ERP] side and produce analytics for a HR department, so they can make real decisions and get real information in real time."

Workforce Analytics is a Web-based HR solution integrated with an advanced set of data analysis tools and metrics for comprehensive workforce performance measurement and improvement. The tool covers recruitment, staffing, training and development, personnel, compensation and benefits, as well as standard ratios that consist of time to fill, cost per hire, accession rate, retention rate, add rate, replacement rate, time to start and offer acceptance rate.

The rise of the Internet has made such functionality possible, says Lawson. "In the old days, five to seven years ago, we called this executive information systems, targeted to one or two people in the company--the CEO and the CFO. Those systems tended to be not real-time data, they went into data marts and they were usually several weeks and maybe even months behind current data. Today, you need access to real-time transactional data, and a role-based widely deployed throughout the company. In order to do that, you have to be browser- or Internet-accessible, period."

There will be significant growth in analytic add-ons to ERP systems over the next few years, predicts Henry Morris, research director with IDC (Framingham, Mass.). Even if organizations have ERP systems in place, they "still don't have the ability to do analysis, modeling and adjustment on an ongoing basis," he says.

The use of analytic information can help "monitor your performance by access to key indicators" such as turnover or compensation data, says Morris. "Comparing against your own business and against your competitors. Review against those types of benchmarks, and after you've done this kind of review and analysis, then adjust policies and put them into action as rapidly as possible to compete this type of cycle. And then continue the process, monitor results, review, add as necessary, adjust those policies again. This is the way for a type of application system I call 'predictive-corrective' model that leads towards continuous business improvement."

"Data that is outside the organization is very important in an e-business world and very important in the analytic world," says Lawson. "Fifty percent growth sounds great, but if all your competitors have 75 percent growth, it's not so great. You have to have outside benchmarking data that gets measured with your data to come out with true measurements."

Lawson's new analytic suite--available for AS/400, Windows NT and Unix systems--is an update to the company's OLAP toolset and performance indicators. The suite's core application gathers financial, transactional and operational data from employees, customers, internal processes and financials from across the organization. This data is loaded into a data warehouse.

Another key requirement Lawson is striving for in this toolset is that the application is "self-evident," says Lawson. "If the CEO, CFO and HR professional want to look at an analytic they haven't looked at for two months, and then has to go to cheat sheets to figure out how to get that analytic, or ask somebody, they're not going to use it."