People data available in three clicks at Unilever


Unilever has put all its people data in one place so that 100,000 users can get to the information within three seconds or five clicks.

Talking about how the company has centralized its global data reporting for HR, James Stringer, director, HR Information, said that the company had set up

a global HR operating framework with one HR system (Peoplesoft, which has been in place 10 years) and shared service centres. For 23 countries these are outsourced to Accenture. The rest are run by Unilver in local countries.

But there was inconsistent data quality so the company created a set of data standards for its people metrics called the ‘global master reference’.

Through rigorous data cleansing and strong governance and reporting the company has developed the quality of data it needed. This is underpinned by what Stringer called the ‘single source of truth’ – an executive sponsor who supports the data. This ensures there is no disagreement about the data. An HR board defines the standards and metrics.

Stringer said that the company’s global data warehouse uses Tableau, a data visualization tool to help turn the data into visual stories.

Unilvere tracks what their employees do and where they are at any time. They measure  the gender balance as well as organisation insights to analyse the distribution of resources across work levels. They also measure attrition history, talent pipeline and talent flows.

He said data analysis takes a lot of dedication and executive buy-ing but it does mean that the company can start to merge data across different functions so they can look at talent versus performance, for example.

Unilever is looking at big data but Stringer said that dealing with big data is a challenge technically.  The company is also looking at unstructured data such as comments on its internal networking site Chatter.


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