Enhanced follow-up and planning of human resources

Belgian employment office benefits from better data quality and reporting speed

The National Employment Office (NEO) in Belgium frequently needs to answer internal and external questions from stakeholders regarding the status of their human resources. How many staff members are eligible to retire in the coming year? Are HR expenditures in line with available budgets? How productive is the workforce in processing files? The NEO's HR Department has implemented a SAS Business Intelligence environment to rapidly and accurately answer these types of questions. Users can now request a wide variety of HR related data in the form of reports. The speed and accuracy of reporting have improved HR follow-up and planning. And the NEO can count on consistent and reliable data.

Besides its main office in Brussels, the National Employment Office (NEO)—known as the Rijksdienst voor Arbeidsvoorziening (RVA) in Dutch and the Office national de l'Emploi (ONEM) in French—has 30 regional offices located throughout Belgium. It employs a staff of approximately 5,600. This number varies as retirements, new recruitments, staff leaves, and employment policies evolve. Keeping a precise track of HR related data is therefore a challenge.


Data is now widely recognized as correct and consistent throughout our organization.

Patrick Boribon
General HR Manager, National Employment Office

Need for data consistency

"In the past, the accuracy of our data was inconsistent and figures often varied between offices or managers," explains Patrick Boribon, General HR Manager. "Our key target was therefore to be able to generate single, correct, and consistent figures for workforce-related data. At the same time, we wanted all system users—central and local—to be able to rely on identical figures and definitions in order to avoid any potential misinterpretations. Being able to count on accurate data is also essential for areas such as budgeting."

All key performance indicators in one overview

The SAS Business Intelligence environment provides HR management and key users with a cockpit overview of all key performance indicators (KPIs). These include headcount evolutions, number of staff members working from home, number of training sessions, absenteeism, sick leaves, age categories, file processing times, staff productivity, et cetera. The system enables the tracking of how much time staff members dedicate to specific activities and projects, for instance.

The data is also used to accurately plan future HR strategies. How many retirements will need to be funded? How many vacancies will need to be filled for a specific project? Yves Du Bois, HR Applications Manager, notes that "our newly enhanced data accuracy enables us to better answer these types of questions."

Enhanced data quality

"Among the reports we are now able to generate is an up-to-date headcount of all NEO personnel classified by category," continues Du Bois. "Because of the large number of staff categories and continuous changes in personnel following retirements, maternity leaves, new recruitments, et cetera, this information is important for accurate HR planning, holiday leave planning, and budgeting."

All data is now centralized on a single server, which makes data management less complicated. Data quality as a whole has improved considerably. "The information is now widely recognized as correct and consistent. As a result, there are far fewer discussions regarding data reliability," points out Boribon. "And any error in the data can also be tracked and corrected more rapidly."

Improved reactivity to stakeholder questions

"The SAS environment also enables us to react more rapidly to questions from stakeholders such as members of Parliament, Ministers, and the Auditor's Office," adds Boribon. "These stakeholders are able to accurately verify whether figures are in line with evolutions in unemployment legislation, among other things."

Each local office receives part of the overall NEO budget for HR. This budget must cover specific types of skills and needs. The SAS tool helps management at both central and local levels to monitor whether these budget allocations are being used optimally and whether headcounts and available resources are in line with the needs that must be fulfilled.

Single Web-based interface for reporting

The NEO wanted to make the data and reports available on its existing Intranet. Since the organization had already successfully implemented SAS in other departments, the HR Department called upon SAS for the implementation of a Business Intelligence environment. "We already knew SAS for their ability to smoothly exploit very large volumes of data," says Jean-Pierre Vermoortele, Deputy ICT Manager.

"SAS helped us implement an environment that extracts all data from the NEO's central database, which is in turn fed by local offices." The SAS tool prepares available information for statistical processing and reporting. The processed data is made available to users through a Web-based interface on the NEO's Intranet platform. "Because all statistical processes occur on the central server and not locally, response times are much shorter. In addition, we now experience greater data security. The security features, for instance, enable us to precisely configure the access rights and views for each system user."

One central source of information

All of the SAS data is centrally managed in Brussels, but can be accessed by each regional entity. The local director, deputy director, and HR correspondent are the key users at every NEO office. They are trained to generate reports themselves and to correctly acquire and interpret the data they need. If they wish, they can easily export the reporting data to Microsoft Excel for further processing. "Thanks to the user-friendliness of the tool, only a limited amount of training is required," states Vermoortele. "Encouraging our IT staff to work with the SAS experts at each stage of the system roll-out was essential in facilitating the transfer of know-how."



Improve data consistency and reliability


SAS® Web Report Studio
SAS® Enterprise Guide
SAS® Business Intelligence Server


  • Improved HR management. Decision-makers at the NEO can better follow-up staff-related data and depend upon a reliable tool for HR planning.
  • Consistent data. Because all data is centralized in one business intelligence system, information is consistent and misinterpretations are avoided.
  • Faster reporting. The speed and accuracy of the SAS data processing and reporting environment enable the NEO to answer stakeholder questions far more rapidly.

Lessons Learned

  • Provide a single source of data for the entire organization in order to avoid confusion.
  • Involve internal IT staff during the various implementation steps carried out by SAS experts. This ensures high quality knowledge transfer.
  • Train key users at the regional offices to use the tool. That way, they will be able to autonomously create reports containing the information they require.
The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

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