Ornua is a dairy co-operative which sells dairy products on behalf of its Members, Ireland’s dairy processors and, in turn, Irish dairy farmers. It is Ireland’s largest exporter of Irish dairy products, exporting to 110 countries worldwide. Headquartered in Dublin, it has a global team of 2,400 employees. Ornua operates from 10 business units worldwide, including 12 production facilities, and has sales and marketing teams working in-market across all four corners of the globe.
Structure of the HR function
Ornua has a global HR team of 50 people, operating in the UK, Ireland, US, Saudi Arabia, China, Spain, Germany, Dubai, South Africa and Nigeria. The HR operating model is made up of local business, HR Business Partners, Global Centres of Excellence teams, e.g. Talent, Reward and the recently implemented People Services (shared services team). The People Services team is based in Dublin where a team of eight is headed by Susan Mitchell, Head of People Services.
As a globally dispersed HR team, one of its major challenges was standardising practices and processes as well as ensuring compliance. The company has grown through several mergers and acquisitions over time and the day-to-day pressures of servicing employees made it difficult for HR to drive efficiencies.
Paper-based employee files and HR documentation resided in different locations, making the auditing, updating and management of these a challenge. Because there was no case management system in place, employees contacted their local HR contacts when they had an issue or query.
The HR team wanted a solution that would integrate with the SAP SuccessFactors HRM system but, crucially, enable it to standardise and automate processes as well as provide efficient employee file management and case management for a globally dispersed workforce. It also wanted an e-signature facility. Based on its research and analysis, including the analyst and advisory firm Gartner, UKG’s full suite HR Service Delivery platform was the preferred solution. It comprises Document Manager (UKG’s employee file management solution) and People Assist (UKG’s case management application) as well as advanced analytics. “UKG literally gave us what we needed in one HRSD package,” says Mitchell.
Ornua focused its roll-out on the UK and Ireland first and planned a phased and localised approach for its other global operations. It began holding workshops in August 2019 and prior to roll-out had to carry out some customisation and integration work with the SAP SuccessFactors system. Ornua opted for the standard API integration with SAP SuccessFactors although UKG does offer an additional layer of integration to customers which means HR professionals can access Document Manager from within SAP SuccessFactors.
Employee Central portal
The ICT team was heavily involved in implementation from the start and the nature of the system also meant that the payroll, reward, recruitment and learning and development functions were also involved. “All of these departments would be using the case management system on a daily basis so they had to provide us with input on their workflow and processes,” says Jennifer O’Brien, People Services Project Lead.
HR also worked closely with the legal and compliance team, particularly when it came to the employee file management side.
The system went live to HR at the end of April 2020 and end user rollout began in June and continued up to Oct 2020. O’Brien explains that while they engaged with local teams ahead of roll-out, it wasn’t until they were using it in real life that they could properly design and customise processes to suit their needs. “Until it becomes real, you are always looking at it theoretically,” she says, adding that securing buy-in on a new system can be a challenge. “It is always going to be a continuous improvement piece.”
The Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on roll-out from a training perspective, but the company was able to develop a remote learning module to facilitate virtual training on the new system.
The employees working on the factory floor who represent 50 per cent of the global workforce, presented another challenge for roll-out in terms of how they access the system.
The HR team made use of a Microsoft authentication tool that allows workers to be issued with a digital identity (a username and password) that would enable them to access the system on a smartphone or tablet. Shared tablets were installed in the canteen to widen access to those who didn’t have a smartphone or digital device at home.
The company had a large volume of paper HR documents. To better organise the scanning of these, UKG and the HR team developed a system of how to apply metadata and rules to each document, working together with data management partner Scan-Optics.
Phase three of the implementaion is focused on China, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Spain, which will involve considerable localisation.
How the system is used
To date, in a 9-month period, 40 document templates have been generated and 705 documents created from these for a range of HR processes.
It is using process automation for the recruitment process, contract and offer generation, onboarding and leaving. It has also created an internal move process which is being implemented and processes for maternity, paternity and parental leave are being signed off. Line managers have responded positively to the prompts to do a task and HR welcomes the transparency it brings in terms of being able to see what stage a process is at.
For instance, when it comes to recruitment, HR has designed a checklist in the system, which is completed by the HR business partners. This directly flows to the recruitment team which generates the requisition advertisement and progresses through the different steps of the recruitment process. When it comes to interview scheduling, the process is automatically handed back to HR.
Another example of process automation in action is an automated form that flows directly to IT to let them know what hardware and software a joiner needs but also notifies the function when to deactivate accounts and recall any hardware when an employee leaves.
“Historically, there was information in different locations, which made accessing and updating documents difficult. Now everyone knows these are in the UKG system and that they are up to date.”
Head of People Services
The company is already seeing efficiency gains and an improved employee experience from the process automation. Typically, it would have taken 10 to 14 days to onboard an individual. Using the system, a new joiner has signed a contract in as little as 18 minutes.
UKG’s HRSD system has also made it possible for HR to deliver standardised reports to the business. “We can show them what the top 10 employee queries are each month as well as our service level agreement (SLA) attainment,” says Mitchell.
Another major benefit is that employees and line managers now have a single source of information on policies and procedures via the Knowledge Base, which resides within the UKG People Assist module. “Historically, there was information in different locations, which made accessing and updating documents difficult. Now everyone knows, all information is in the UKG system and that it is always up to date,” says Mitchell. “This has really improved the employee experience.” and line managers like the system because they can direct people to a one-stop shop.”
Also, the pension scheme, provided by Ornua has seen a considerable take-up, since it was introduced to the system. The information is more easily available now. To date, nearly 4,000 requests have been submitted through People Assist.
Next steps and advice to others
The system is still being embedded and continues to involve some culture change. Alongside digitisation of processes and documents, Ornua has recently implemented a shared service model for HR and the UKG system will play a major part in helping employees and managers make the move to the new support model. The ability to report on people processes and deliver accurate metrics also means HR can better support the organisation in implementing its growth strategy.
The focus now is on the future global roll-outs as well as further adding to the Knowledge Base and maximising the process automation. It also plans to use the home page of the UKG Knowledge Base as a vehicle to publish newsletters for local sites.
The advice to others is to fully assess and understand at the start of the process how the system will be used by all members of the workforce. Alongside this, the needs of each global location need to be clearly understood and because it isn’t always possible to accurately design the processes until the end-user uses the system, accept that there will be a need for continuous improvement and optimisation in the first few months of implementation.
Overall though, O’Brien and Mitchell’s advice is: “Make the jump to digitisation and remove the complexity that exists with decentralised and non-digital processes.”