Navigo Blog

3 Reasons Why Traditional HR Reports are Useless

Written by Peter

Peter is Navigo's founder and Managing Director. Peter is passionate about building and running businesses, finding solutions to business process problems and new trends in HR Technology.

April 1, 2016

Things are looking dire.

The market has shifted, and senior management needs information. They need it fast.

So what do you do when you need to give a snapshot of your entire organisation at the drop of a hat? You won’t just need to know who is working for whom – you’ll probably need a full budget report by department, a list of top players in each area based on their expertise and a whole heap of compliance related metrics too.

If you’re prepared, these reports will already be prepared too. But for the other 95% of us, you’re either going to have to use old data or set your whole HR team to some fast data crunching.

But here’s the problem – either of these options will leave you with reports that are out of date by the time you need them, rarely have the information you need right now and they take forever to prepare.

Here’s 3 ways to make your HR data useful again.

Don’t prepare reports – automatically generate them

When you prepare a report, you should always have a specific question you’re trying to answer. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bunch of meaningless data you hope will be useful.

Why not generate reports in real time based on a question? For example, if you want to know “which departments are over-budget”, you don’t need to prepare a report itemising every single dollar and cent.

Instead, set up a search or alarm system in your HR systems to automatically answer the question for you.

In Org Planning, we can do this by setting up visual alarms to highlight departments that are over budget in the company org chart. That way, you can present the org chart to decision makers and they’ll instantly know which departments are over-budget by glancing over the charts.


You could get a similar result by setting up some conditional formatting in more traditional ways – maybe using a search through your HR source of truth for departments exceeding budget rather than using a pre-prepared report.

Of course, to do this, you will need to….


Keep your information up to date – always

You can’t make good decisions off old data. Businesses move too fast for historical information to be an accurate snapshot of the current situation.

The easiest way to do this is to make sure your data is constantly being verified, cleansed and kept up to date. From there, you need to pull information from the current, live information – NOT a data export, not the last report you made, and certainly not last year’s results.

If you’re not reporting straight from your source of truth, you’ll need to make sure your reporting tools are pulling data from the source of truth regularly. For example, most Org Planning customers set daily data refreshes so they are making decisions based on today’s information. Worst case, it will be 23 hours old (if they’re a real work-a-holic and work late into the night).

Your reporting tools should be a snapshot into the current situation, not a record of the past.


Clearly answer the question

Present me with 40 different variables in a spreadsheet and I’m probably going to ask you to explain your report to me. In other words, your report is useless and I need you to do it again, verbally.

We all make this mistake, thinking that more information equals better decision making, but this is rarely the case.

Stick to the relevant details. Filter out what’s irrelevant. Make it visually appealing and guide the viewer through the data.

When our Org Planning customers prepare a budget view, for example, they make it a simple visual org chart report. You can see the organisation structure and you can easily see who is over budget as they’re highlighted with a red border. Most importantly, only budget information is shown. There’s no employee contact details, no performance data – just the information requested.

By all means, if you want to compare a few different variables, include them in your reports, but only when they’re relevant to the question you’re answering.


If you feel like you’re lacking the tools or experience to achieve these 3 points, share your situation with us and we’ll be happy to help you out. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, we can help you setup automated reports from your HRIS, set up a visual reporting view with Org Planning or even just give you some advice and best practices to give you some ideas.

Keep your information relevant and you’ll continue to add value to senior management. Keep providing useless reports….and you may find both your data and your expertise ignored when it really matters.



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