Digital Workspace
May 12, 2020

How to Get a Single Source of People Data

Do you have one place where you and your colleagues can go to find helpful information about someone in your organization? No? Then keep reading. Yes? Then let me ask you a few more questions: Does their contact information live in the same place as their office address? Can you learn about someone’s skill sets and role experience, then send them an instant message without finding them in another application? Can your Technology department go to a single data source for all of this information instead of painfully pulling things from multiple systems?


We’ve found that in many organizations, especially those that are rapidly growing, the answer to many of these questions is no.

How do companies get into this situation?

When growing a company, keeping employee data organized is not often high on the priority list.  What we’ve found is that companies gradually adopt new tools to collect different pieces of information. As a result, these disparate pieces of information will only be accessible to a few people in your organization. Companies often keep data in places like:


  • A directory system like Active Directory, Azure AD, or G Suite to manage basic information and make it accessible to employees.
  • An HR system like Workday or Ultipro that will store extended information, some of it being more sensitive.
  • Various other tools or HR system extensions to collect and manage secondary information like skills, projects, or certifications.
  • A suite of communication and collaboration tools that coincidentally add even more info.

Even if an org prioritizes collecting and organizing this information in a better way, it’s often the case that a directory system is still the only place where more than a few people can reliably access anything at all.

Why is having a single source important?


Even if all of this is true for your organization, why should you care about improving the situation? Why would you invest any time or money into making this better? There are multiple reasons, a few of them being:


  1. Data can be more accessible - Having a single employee profile that is accessible to anyone in your organization means that you give everyone access to a wealth of valuable information. However, this can also be scary, since you may not want everyone to be able to see certain information. A single place greatly simplifies this dynamic, by allowing you to manage exactly what information is shown without configuring permissions in multiple systems.
  2. You can use it to build other things - For Technology departments out there, having one place to pull employee data from programmatically is invaluable. A single API to build on top of for your people data can greatly reduce development costs.
  3. It’s a step towards reliability - When your data becomes more visible and consolidated, it helps to eliminate stale and inaccurate data. You can elect to prefer the systems that are most up to date and work to bring others up to speed.

Investing in a solution will help your business scale operationally and avoid pitfalls during future growth when your data becomes too much to handle.


Where do you start?

Building a single source of truth for this information can be a daunting task. In larger companies, technology teams can invest in something like a data warehouse or a custom solution. But for small to medium sized organizations, or those who don’t have the resources, it’s valuable to have tools that can get you to a good foundation without pivoting from your primary goals.


Sift is a tool that gives your people ways to find and discover one another through our user interface, but we’re also invested in being this foundational source of information. We’ve built mechanisms for consuming your data from multiple sources that can be configured within days rather than months. Given this combined data and the additional information collected by Sift, we provide a streamlined user experience and API for building and retrieving a single profile for your people.


Check out our Data Integrations page for more information on how Sift does that for you.

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The Forge

A monthly collection of the latest Sift content, thought pieces, and resources, we keep you updated on what's going on in the world of work and Sift.

Do you have one place where you and your colleagues can go to find helpful information about someone in your organization? No? Then keep reading. Yes? Then let me ask you a few more questions: Does their contact information live in the same place as their office address? Can you learn about someone’s skill sets and role experience, then send them an instant message without finding them in another application? Can your Technology department go to a single data source for all of this information instead of painfully pulling things from multiple systems?


We’ve found that in many organizations, especially those that are rapidly growing, the answer to many of these questions is no.

How do companies get into this situation?

When growing a company, keeping employee data organized is not often high on the priority list.  What we’ve found is that companies gradually adopt new tools to collect different pieces of information. As a result, these disparate pieces of information will only be accessible to a few people in your organization. Companies often keep data in places like:


  • A directory system like Active Directory, Azure AD, or G Suite to manage basic information and make it accessible to employees.
  • An HR system like Workday or Ultipro that will store extended information, some of it being more sensitive.
  • Various other tools or HR system extensions to collect and manage secondary information like skills, projects, or certifications.
  • A suite of communication and collaboration tools that coincidentally add even more info.

Even if an org prioritizes collecting and organizing this information in a better way, it’s often the case that a directory system is still the only place where more than a few people can reliably access anything at all.

Why is having a single source important?


Even if all of this is true for your organization, why should you care about improving the situation? Why would you invest any time or money into making this better? There are multiple reasons, a few of them being:


  1. Data can be more accessible - Having a single employee profile that is accessible to anyone in your organization means that you give everyone access to a wealth of valuable information. However, this can also be scary, since you may not want everyone to be able to see certain information. A single place greatly simplifies this dynamic, by allowing you to manage exactly what information is shown without configuring permissions in multiple systems.
  2. You can use it to build other things - For Technology departments out there, having one place to pull employee data from programmatically is invaluable. A single API to build on top of for your people data can greatly reduce development costs.
  3. It’s a step towards reliability - When your data becomes more visible and consolidated, it helps to eliminate stale and inaccurate data. You can elect to prefer the systems that are most up to date and work to bring others up to speed.

Investing in a solution will help your business scale operationally and avoid pitfalls during future growth when your data becomes too much to handle.


Where do you start?

Building a single source of truth for this information can be a daunting task. In larger companies, technology teams can invest in something like a data warehouse or a custom solution. But for small to medium sized organizations, or those who don’t have the resources, it’s valuable to have tools that can get you to a good foundation without pivoting from your primary goals.


Sift is a tool that gives your people ways to find and discover one another through our user interface, but we’re also invested in being this foundational source of information. We’ve built mechanisms for consuming your data from multiple sources that can be configured within days rather than months. Given this combined data and the additional information collected by Sift, we provide a streamlined user experience and API for building and retrieving a single profile for your people.


Check out our Data Integrations page for more information on how Sift does that for you.

Get Our Newsletter

The Forge

A monthly collection of the latest Sift content, thought pieces, and resources, we keep you updated on what's going on in the world of work and Sift.