Despite sizeable investments, some organisations fail to fully leverage the benefits that HRIS can offer. Teresa Russell looks at the process of realising efficiencies and returns on investments in HR technology
HRIS automates transactional HR in
the areas of personnel record-keep
ing, benefits and payroll – particu
larly for companies moving from manual
systems that are error-prone and time con
suming – starting with payroll and
Employee Self Service (ESS).
InterOil Australia Pty Ltd is Canadian-
owned, but has corporate headquarters
in Cairns. The company’s main business
is oil and gas exploration and production
in PNG. It owns an oil refinery there and
commands a 60 per cent share of PNG’s
downstream market (petrol stations).
Steve Grey, InterOil’s HR services
manager, says that the majority of the
company’s 650 staff is skilled workers.
“A global payroll system to replace three
different systems used in PNG and
another in Australia was the most
urgently required HRIS need. We could
n’t even work out staff turnover without
accessing individual employee files using
our manual systems,” he says.
Carly Clonan, national HR manager
for Kings Transport and Logistics,
replaced her company’s payroll system in
late 2007 because its software provider
was withdrawing support, hoping to
move Kings to its web-based system. “We
needed to create efficiencies and centralise
the HR function as well as replace unsup
ported payroll software,” she says.
Kings is an Australian-owned and oper
ated metropolitan and intrastate transport
and warehousing company. It now has 359
direct employees working in office or ware
housing roles, as well as 1500 subcontracted
drivers. Kings has trebled in size through
organic growth in the last five years.
Every organisation has particular needs
(and budgets), which often dictate HRIS
vendor selection. Grey says that InterOil
needed a global payroll system that had
an easy report-writing system, used low
bandwidth, had been tested and would
be supported in PNG – a developing
country with “unique issues”.
In a previous role, Grey had used
Frontier Software in PNG, although not
the global version of Chris 21 that he
eventually chose. There were time pres
sures to have the new system operational
by the new financial year, giving the ven
dor just three months from scoping to
Clonan says that ease-of-use was
Kings’ primary requirement, as well as
operating within a “modest” budget to
get both a payroll and ESS module. Sage
MicrOpay’s Meridian system was the best
fit. “Transport remains a traditional field.
Some of our older Gen-X’s and baby
boomers initially had difficulty accepting
the new technology. Once we demon
strated how easy the ConnX [operating] system was to use, the transition was
easy,” she says.
The document section of the ESS mod
ule includes training records, a staff asset
register, performance management alerts,
templates and storage, employee manuals,
organisational charts, a national staff
directory and internal vacancy notices.
InterOil implemented its payroll system
for Australia and PNG 18 months ago, a
recruitment module in August 2008 and
a competency-based training system in
September 2008. Grey will be extending
the system to include ESS, health and
safety, environment and performance
management in the future.
“The implementation went very
smoothly. It helped that I had used the
system before and that Frontier had expe
rience working in PNG,” says Grey,
whose project team consisted of three
staff from HR, the IT manager and
finance. They used a total of 53 vendor
project team days, completing the project
under budget in terms of time and cost.
Clonan and her payroll assistant ran
Kings’ payroll implementation them
selves. “I had heard about another com
pany where implementation of an HRIS
was rushed and not properly tested,”
“All the employees’ private data was
available for everyone to see. So we tested
it thoroughly to ensure privacy was main
tained and did a slow rollout, training all
staff on ESS at each site,” says Clonan.
The whole system was rebranded i-Kings
just after implementation.
ROI and payback
Neither InterOil nor Kings have done for
mal Return On Investment calculations
to compute the value of the HRIS to their
respective companies, but both Grey and
Clonan believe their original business case justifications have been validated since
InterOil’s managers now have access
to accurate information about overtime,
sick leave and salary comparisons to
manage their people better.
Clonan says there have been obvious
cost savings in time, paper, postage,
printing and reduced errors. “Since
implementation, we’ve grown from 260
to 359 staff without needing any addi
tional HR resources. We can still manage
a weekly payroll with one part-time staff
member who now has time to assist HR
with other functions,” says Clonan.
“Once you use it, you will wonder how
you ever managed before – and you
never look back.”
HRIS in 2009
Bill Kutik, technology columnist for Human Resource Executive and co-chairman of the USA's annual HR Technology Conference, is a guru of HRIS. In a recent episode of his bi-weekly webcast on HRIS, The Bill Kutik Radio Show, he and his guests made some predictions about the immediate future of the HRIS market.
Kutik told Human Resources that the most important thing for organisations to do now was to use a systematic way to identify its best employees. "There are a lot of opportunities in a downturn. You can get rid of the deadwood that needs pruning in tight times. But you must make sure you are 'riffing' (from RIF - reductions in force) the right people," he says.
Kutik believes that performance management is the most important thing to get right in 2009, and also says that quite a few organisations have yet-to-be-implemented modules in their Oracle or Peoplesoft systems. "People will spend a lot on optimising what they already have this year," he adds.