With 400,000 clients in 80 countries and territories, ManpowerGroup had stores of data that it wanted to use to better serve its clients. But business users were accustomed to developing ad hoc reports and running on anecdotal insight rather than data. Using Tableau, ManpowerGroup has standardized its analytic efforts, increased the speed and quality of business review documents, and enabled truly strategic conversations.
Anecdotes, Queues, and Band-Aids
As one of the largest HR companies in the world, ManpowerGroup realized that it held a great deal of valuable data. But it needed to do a better job of using that information to drive competitive advantages for itself or its clients.
“Before, a lot of our information was very anecdotal,” says Anuwat Raviwongse, Director of Analytics for ManpowerGroup. “We kind of knew what was happening.”
ManpowerGroup needed to develop data-driven business review documents that could be used to drive strategic conversations. “The context for the documents is different for each client,” says Raviwongse.
Users asking the IT team to script and run reports from the Cognos Enterprise business intelligence solution faced a long queue. And if the resulting document answered the wrong question—or users developed new questions after seeing the results?
“They would have to go back to IT and request another report and wait, look at it, and go back to IT for another report and then wait again,” says Sarah Nell, Global Corporate Account Analyst at ManpowerGroup.
“Updating these reports took a lot of time,” adds Nell. “You couldn’t just have them automatically update.” Some teams tried to avoid the IT queue by creating their own business review documents from varying sources. “We had a lot of one-off solutions that worked for that Band-Aid moment,” Nell says.
This approach produced its own issues—the answers to a question could change depending upon who you asked. And these homegrown solutions carried the risk of errors.
“We had people using data incorrectly and they were creating different spreadsheet solutions surrounding that data and then providing that in reporting format,” says Nell.
Cutting and Pasting: For Art Class, Not Analytics
ManpowerGroup has offices in more than 80 locations across the globe. While North American data is housed in a data warehouse, data from other locations could be provided in a number of different formats.
“Each of our global areas has its own business intelligence repositories, whether Excel or Access or something else,” says Raviwongse. “If we want to get insight into a global client, we would go to our data warehouse for North American data and then try to blend that with whatever received from our other locations,” says Raviwongse.
In addition, some presentations required the team to blend data from external sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Federal Reserve to provide a holistic view of a particular industry.
Blending information from these sorts of disparate data sources into a cohesive customer presentation was a long, manual process.
“It was a lot of cutting and pasting,” says Raviwongse. “A lot of Excel work and a lot of Access work.”
Raviwongse estimates that a single business review report for a large client would take a team of five people approximately three weeks to produce.
“Oh, Wow—We Like You”
In 2010, two events occurred that would change how ManpowerGroup viewed and used data: the company established an analytics team, and it acquired TAPFIN, a human resources managed services provider.
The newly-established corporate analytics team wanted to align its efforts with TAPFIN’s analytics—which was produced and distributed through Tableau Server.
A few, scattered people within ManpowerGroup were already using Tableau Desktop for client insight; the TAPFIN acquisition brought additional attention to Tableau, and usage began to mushroom.
“We wanted more flexibility in terms of the graphs and visualizations that we use. We wanted to be able to be independent from IT. And we wanted to be able to do the analysis and drill-through and have hierarchies pre-set based on the data,” says Raviwongse. “Tableau met those needs, which was a big contributor to why we started to expand (our use).”
“We only have about six people in the analytics group, but we support all of Manpower,” says Nell. “Demand is really high. We really needed a solution that would the needs for faster deliverables, ad hoc report requests—and we needed to make it sustainable.”
The analytics team began to provide Tableau visualizations for use in business reviews with clients. “That's when Tableau started picking up a lot of popularity,” says Nell.
“The teams saw our speed and thought, ‘Oh wow—we like you. Let's use you more.’ The visuals and the different drill-downs that we could provide—it was just leaps and bounds above what they were getting before,” she says.
Today, more than 20 people are authoring reports in Tableau and up to hundred are seeing and interacting with completed visualizations. The team is primarily self-taught, through videos from tableausoftware.com and power users training newer users. ManpowerGroup recently participated in its first Tableau Training on-site.
The analytics team usually works with data extracts for increased speed and performance, but occasionally will connect to larger data sources.
“I just recently connected to a data source with all of our client data in it, and I’d estimate that has more than 100 million rows,” says Nell.
TAPFIN continues publish its own analysis through Tableau Server, while the ManpowerGroup analytics group has been using Tableau Desktop. The team has just started experimenting with the hosted version of Tableau Server, Tableau Cloud.
“We want to be able to provide access to visualizations to people’s mobile devices, and we want to unplug from having to manage the infrastructure,” says Raviwongse of the choice to move to Tableau Cloud.
Better Blending, Fewer Band-Aids
“Today we can take five or six different reports and blend them into a single business review document. And if they don’t blend the way we need them to, we can just connect to another data source through Tableau,” says Nell. “It’s seamless in the presentation and the connection time is much less than it was previously.”