Tidemark regularly hosts our customers at our HQ. Our entire company listens as they share details about their successes and suggest innovative ideas for how we can shape our future product direction. These meetings are inspiring for our team as customers share how the capabilities we’re delivering together are critical to their success.

Last week, our company gathered around one of our healthcare customers for a “fireside chat”. This customer has twelve unique operating segments with significantly different operational characteristics, but they all share a high-dependency on people. Labor and labor related expenses make up more than 60% of their cost structure. The need for a platform that could rapidly adapt to this change drove this particular company to implement Workday (HCM + Financials) and Tidemark (Planning + Business Analytics). When we asked for specific examples of how Tidemark is facilitating transformation in their company, one of their stakeholders enthusiastically shared, “We can finally explain labor!” Features and functions never communicate differentiators as powerfully as real customer stories.

What’s required to “explain”? Hundreds of pages of reports were not useful in explaining labor. Those stacks of reports needed to be supplemented by email threads and executive summary PowerPoint decks that attempt to form a narrative for those stacks of reports. Even for those with the patience and bandwidth to sort through all of those reports and emails and PPTs, though, they still couldn’t sufficiently “explain” labor. Explaining labor, in this case, also requires understanding it’s regulated relationship with patient levels — which requires modeling and integrating with patient (census) data. These models build a foundation upon which labor forecasts and what-if analysis can be performed. To explain labor, this customer requires three capabilities: (1) Historical analytics that intelligently surface the most impactful labor metrics; (2) In-context collaboration so that the learnings from team member discussions can become a part of the historical record of labor performance; and (3) Modeling capabilities that help describe how various scenarios would impact labor going forward.

Spreadsheets, reports, and dashboards have never been sufficient at explaining. Performance Management software rarely explains because it tends to be disconnected from operational data and, too often, focuses too narrowly on financial performance . Enterprise Social software is a market that’s exploding as companies seek to better leverage the value of the collaboration that takes place within their teams; however, these collaboration streams tend to run in parallel to analytical processes – rather than in-context. Aaron Levie had it right when he said, “The biggest opportunities are often in the space between existing product categories that no one has bothered to find.”

Once you have the context to “explain”, more people throughout the organization are empowered to act. In this case, now that they can explain labor, supervisors throughout all of their businesses can optimize staffing and ultimately deliver better outcomes for their patients. If your organization continue to patch together reports, PowerPoints, spreadsheets, and email, then you’ve got some explaining to do!