AWS Business Intelligence Blog

CubeServ elevates HR analytics and workforce planning for customers using Amazon QuickSight

This is a guest post by Jan Wiesemann from CubeServ.

In this post, we discuss how CubeServ migrated from an in-house BI solution to delivering embedded analytics within PeoplePLAN using Amazon QuickSight. CubeServ is a premium consulting company that specializes in making data relevant and usable for customers. Founded in Switzerland in 2001, CubeServ provides advanced analytics solutions that specializes in making data insights accessible and assisting customers with the ideation and creation of BI projects.

A key part of our team is the HR Solutions team—a group that focuses on creating innovative solutions for operational workforce planning and other complex HR tasks. Our latest product, PeoplePLAN, is a SaaS solution built to help customers with their workforce planning.

Launched in 2019, we incorporated our team’s experience and expertise from thousands of successful business analytics and warehousing projects.

In-house BI solution limits usability and flexibility

Built to be functional straight out of the box, PeoplePLAN lets customers plan better by helping them track personnel costs and headcount, create projections, and access the data they need to make decisions. In-house BI solutions often limit usability and flexibility, which is one of PeoplePLAN’s major competitive advantages.

For all these insights to be accessible to customers, PeoplePLAN needed to have excellent dashboard and reporting capabilities. It also needed to integrate smoothly with our existing data sources and represent data effectively.

Initially, we used a dashboard solution that was developed in-house, but we quickly found that it was limited in terms of usability, flexibility, user experience, and visualization capabilities.

So, we looked for an embedded analytics tool that would allow us to embed custom dashboards—one that had useful features that would make data analysis easy for customers, and that would make it easy for us to keep adding value.

Since we were already on the AWS stack, the choice was clear: Amazon QuickSight.

Easy dashboarding and embedding with Amazon QuickSight

Our use of an AWS stack made QuickSight the natural choice because it would integrate seamlessly with other AWS products and services.

But it was also an easy decision to make because of its other features.

  • Simple dashboard embedding – QuickSight was created to be easy to embed into third-party applications, which makes it an excellent choice for embedded analytics. We could set up and launch dashboards for our web application easily, without the need for coding.
  • Excellent access authorization and customizable security – QuickSight has granular authorization capabilities, like column- and row-level security, which makes it easy to control data access. Data authorizations are passed to QuickSight via tags to make use of this row level-based security.
  • User-friendly dashboard interactivity and granularity – QuickSight makes it easy not just for us to create dashboards to embed, but for our customers to do so too. We were able to introduce custom authoring capabilities to our premium users, so they can make dashboards to meet their own specialized needs.
  • Easy reporting with paginated reports –QuickSight makes reporting easy for our customers, as they can create reports to report on specific KPIs or data insights. Before, this would have required custom development or manual reporting.

A closer look at PeoplePLAN and QuickSight development

Embedding QuickSight into PeoplePLAN and launching the improved product took just two weeks end-to-end. We started out using the dashboard capabilities, but quickly began to adopt and roll-out its other features, such as row-level security and end-user authoring.

In our QuickSight dashboards, we use KPIs related to personnel costs and capacities, such as:

  • Employee Turnover Rate – Measures the percentage of employees who leave the organization within a specific period. High turnover can indicate issues with recruitment, onboarding, or retention strategies.
  • Labor Cost Ratio – Calculates the ratio of labor costs (wages, benefits, etc.) to total operating costs. This helps to assess the impact of workforce costs on overall budget.
  • Cost per Employee – Determines the average cost of employing an individual employee. This helps to identify cost-saving opportunities and optimize staffing levels.
  • Workforce Cost Forecast Accuracy – Evaluates the accuracy of workforce cost forecasts compared to actual costs incurred. This helps customers refine planning and budgeting processes.
  • Cost of Vacancies – Measures the financial impact of vacant positions on an organization. This KPI highlights the importance of timely recruitment and reduced time-to-fill.

The following screenshot shows one of our dashboards. In it, there are several graphs that help to compare different scenarios regarding organizational structure, number of staff, and the overall difference between personnel costs.

Dashboard examples

The user can also compare measures and how they impact the Full Time Equivalents (FTE). Other comparisons include different cost elements, like wages, bonuses, and holiday bonuses, as well as the overall costs between different cost centers.

Our architecture

PeoplePLAN pulls all its data from a PostgreSQL database into SPICE which runs on AWS.

SPICE (Super-fast, Parallel, In-memory Calculation Engine) is the robust in-memory engine that Amazon QuickSight uses allowing rapid, advanced calculations and data serving. Analytics are faster, direct queries process instantly, and data can be reused multiple times without additional costs which has made a big difference to our deployment of QuickSight.

The following illustration shows our architecture.

Solution Architecture

HR analytics made easy — for customers and ourselves

With QuickSight, we were able to achieve the following impacts:

  • Faster time to market — Customers can use dashboards after only 2 to 3 days, instead of several weeks it would have taken before.
  • No-code authoring — Dashboards, data visualizations, and reports can be created without the need for development effort.
  • Fully-integrated reporting — PeoplePLAN now has detailed, customizable reporting built in.
  • Cost savings — Reducing in-house development costs.

Our sales conversions for small and medium-sized businesses jumped significantly, going 32% above projections. Likewise, we’ve seen a noticeable increase in our NPS and retention rate.

Another result we’re pleased with is the speed. By using SPICE, the in-memory storage, we’ve seen 10x faster results to queries, which contributes to significant time savings.

“Using QuickSight has delivered us a faster time to market, with customers using dashboards after only two to three days, including customization and without development effort. We also use it to deliver our existing documentation and tutorials and have enabled a fully integrated, customizable reporting solution for PeoplePLAN.”

– Jan Wiesemann, Cloud Architect and Development Lead.

What’s next?

Going forward, we’re excited to introduce Amazon QuickSight Q to PeoplePLAN. QuickSight Q is natural language querying and AI support. Anyone can ask the system questions using natural words and receive accurate answers with relevant visualizations in seconds, making PeoplePLAN an even more intuitive system to use.

Planning is already underway, and we’re expecting to implement this in 2024.

Get started with QuickSight

Using QuickSight helped us save on development costs and create a web application that is rich in value-add features.

QuickSight’s easy-to-use interface makes authoring easy for us and our customers, and we’ve been pleased with its data visualization and reporting capabilities. It’s perfect for what we need from an embedded analytics tool.

To learn more about how QuickSight can help your business create exciting new applications, save on in-house development time, and bring data insights to customers, visit the Amazon QuickSight page.

About The Author

Jan Wiesemann is a Cloud Architect and Development Lead. Jan started his professional IT career 13 years ago. Since then, he has managed servers and networks, ventured into the world of SAP and Data Science, and evolved into a full-stack web developer. All this is now perfectly combined for running PeoplePLAN in the AWS Cloud.