A thorough and inclusive approach to change management, which included seven internal initiatives, played a critical role in the implementation and adoption of a global cloud HCM platform within Challenger, according to its head of HR
Challenger, an ASX-listed investment management firm managing more than $70 billion in assets and some 650 employees globally, made the decision to shift to a cloud HCM platform to help with the process of talent acquisition and people management more broadly.
Talent is a key differentiator in Challenger’s industry – and especially important in competing against larger, more established firms in the financial services industry, said Challenger’s acting executive GM HR, Seema Barooah.
In the process, Challenger identified the need for a scalable, world-class cloud HCM system as a key element in its growth plans.
Challenger was also at the stage where it needed to adopt a unified HR platform globally, instead of using legacy systems and processes the business was outgrowing.
“We wanted one vendor and one system, and given our size, we didn’t want to be integrating across systems,” she explained.
“We wanted the access on mobile devices, because the end-user experience was really important to us, it needed to be seamless, intuitive, and easy for the end-user.
“And we wanted easy integration between the modules, and no double-entry of data.”
Functionality for international jurisdictions was also important, as was vendor support after go-live.
Selecting a platform
Challenger selected Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud and went live with the modules for recruitment, onboarding, core HR, and learning at the same time.
12 months down the track, the business has realised a number of significant benefits, according to Barooah, who said offer acceptance time has reduced by 76 per cent, costs for printing and postage have dropped by 98 per cent with automated contracts and onboarding processes, while HR time spent on related administrative tasks has been cut by 88 per cent.
“You can’t communicate enough”
Barooah, who recently presented at a series of HR executive lunches, organised by Inside HR in conjunction with Oracle, said that change management was critical to the success of the new cloud HR platform.
Internally, there were seven factors that played a key role in managing this and improving the adoption of the new Oracle HCM Cloud – the first of which was keeping the HR team informed, Barooah explained.
“You can’t communicate enough,” she said.
“A big part of this was to take the HR team on the journey, because they were critical to the success of the project, and this was going to impact their jobs and as well as how they were going to do things.
“So it was important to make sure that they felt involved, in both the process maps as well as when we started scoping out the system and when we started building the system.”
Barooah also said HR was involved in helping customise the look and feel of the new system and getting their feedback on what would work (and what would not).
A second key factor was to appoint and engage “change champions” and gather feedback, especially at the system mock-up stage.
“We selected a group of individuals from across the business, from different locations, levels and functions such as marketing, IT, finance, investment management and sales.
“We showed them the mock-up of the system that we’d developed in staging,” said Barooah, who added that the change champions also championed the new platform in their teams and took on ownership of it in the process.”
Thirdly, Challenger’s HR team ran a competition internally to name the new system (H2R, or Hire to Retire) and Barooah said this helped engage key stakeholders in the process and boost the sense of ownership internally.
A fourth factor in managing the change associated with the adoption of Oracle’s cloud HR platform was to get key users involved in the system end-user acceptance and testing stage, and Barooah said the aforementioned internal change champions were also involved in this step.
“A big part of this was to take the HR team on the journey, because they were critical to the success of the project”
Regular project updates at key leadership team meetings were also important in the adoption and success of the new HCM cloud platform.
“We did this for the executive leadership team, and also got HR business partners to speak about this project at their leadership team meetings.
“So the business was aware that this was happening and what was coming,” said Barooah.
Some HR business partners also got involved in customising the on-boarding module of the HCM cloud solution for different parts of the business.
“With onboarding, you can have different approaches depending on the division, location or employment type,” she said.
A sixth important factor was to develop and provide quick reference guides as well as training sessions for the business, and Barooah said a mixed approach was important at this stage.
“The training was offered to everybody, but people did not need to attend if they didn’t want to.
“We recognised that there are managers who recruit on a regular basis, however, there are some who recruit once a year.
“There is not much point in training them, so we said we would just hand-hold and show them how to use the system when needed.
“We’re having to do less and less of that, because even if they don’t remember something, they have somebody who sits pretty close by who does – so they can just ask the question and help is there,” said Barooah.
The seventh and final step was to upskill the HR operations team, and she said this was a very important step.
“The team was used to going into the old system, as it was just more familiar in running a query in this rather than H2R,” she said.
“But with training, ongoing coaching and regular usage the HR team is now much faster and the H2R system is more intuitive to them.”
“Given the system is global, it helps us in managing growth as we expand the size of our teams and presence globally”
There were a number of important drivers for Challenger in adopting a new HCM cloud platform, including a better user experience, stronger user engagement, lower recruitment costs, increased productivity (for new starters and all employees), real-time reporting, more efficiency, stronger risk management as well as a shift away from relying on physical employee files.
The HCM cloud solution has also helped with the broader business’ expansion into overseas markets, and Barooah said a scalable, robust platform was a critical enabler of this.
“We opened an office in Japan last year, and we’re operating as two legal entities, so it’s a complex structure – but in Oracle HCM Cloud, it has been very easy to set this up,” said Barooah, who added that Challenger has increased new hire volumes by 25 percent across multiple countries.
“We’re not using the recruitment module there just yet, but we have the capability to so as the office grows, we can use it with the local language and hook into job boards locally. We have all that functionality.
“This is what we’re doing in the UK, where we are using the system for recruitment and generating and completing online contracts.
“We also have offices in the US and Sweden, so we’re certainly spread out but given the system is global, it helps us in managing growth as we expand the size of our teams and presence globally,” said Barooah.
Another important driver for the business in adopting the HCM system was configuration and ease of use, and Barooah said that she wanted minimal customisation in the process.
“We spent a lot of time workshopping integration between the modules, mostly in recruitment and core HR, and whether we would go with an out-of-box integration or customisation.
“In the end, we went with the out-of-box integration, because Oracle was able to share their roadmap with us – which they’re continuously building out and enhancing.”
Summary: Challenger’s 7 cloud HCM steps to effective internal change management
- Keep the HR team informed
- Appoint change champions to assist with feedback at the system mock-up stage
- Run a competition to name the system
- Get key users involved in system user acceptance testing
- Deliver regular project updates at key leadership meetings
- Provide quick reference guides and training sessions
- Upskill the HR operations team
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