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OOW17 - NSF assesses its move from EBS to Oracle Cloud HCM

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright October 2, 2017
Testing and certification provider NSF assesses the learnings and outcomes of its recent move from EBS to Oracle Cloud HCM at OOW17

NSF lab testing - photo via NSF
When moving an HR system to the cloud, is it better to start incrementally with one or more talent mangement apps, or go straight in with the core HR system? When NSF, a global provider of product testing inspection and certification services, started its upgrade from Oracle E-Business Suite to Oracle HCM Cloud, it chose the incremental approach — but its experience suggests it would have been simpler to dive straight in with core HR.

With 2,800 employees spread across 63 locations in 26 countries — and more than 3000 contractors in as many as 71 countries — the not-for-profit organization had been running Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) for ten years, extending across HR and finance functions. But compensation management for merit increases and management bonuses was based on Excel spreadsheets, a time consuming and fragile process that was not sustainable as headcount continued to grow.

This provided the initial impetus to implement Oracle HCM Cloud for goals, performance and compensation management, rolled out in a first phase to a subset of 1,000 employees in eight countries. One of the biggest challenges this threw up was syncing data between the two systems. The EBS instance was much more tolerant of loose data formats than HCM Cloud, which has more stringent data validation for fields such as address and phone number. This meant devoting a lot of resource preparing the data for use in HCM Cloud.

The original plan for the next phase was to implement Taleo to provide a much-needed global applicant tracking system. But after taking advice from Oracle and from implementation partner DriveStream, NSF decided to implement core HR before adding any more new applications, to avoid later integration headaches.

Building cloud advocacy

In retrospect, the data issues meant it would have been easier to start with core HR at the same time as implementing performance and compensation management, says Wayne Overla, Global HRIS Manager, speaking in a session yesterday at OOW17:

If we could go back in time I think we'd implement compensation and performance management at the same time as core.

But while it would have avoided extra work on normalizing the data, it might have been a leap too far for the organization. Putting in those first applications had helped build enthusiasm for going to the cloud, he explains.

It was that successful implementation of compensation, performance management and goals that allowed us to go in to core HR and take a bigger step into the cloud. It was the proof of concept, if you will.

Our senior management were all part of that small subset of individuals that were in [the first phase]. They liked using it, found it easy, so when I came to them and said, 'Hey we need to do core HR,' there was very little resistance.

Rolling out the smaller application also helped the change management process as it effectively created a pool of advance advocates for the cloud system.

It allowed us to introduce a subset, and the next year in compensation we allowed all people leaders to do recognition and an additional 400 people. So for the final jump into the cloud, at least the people leaders had some experience already to be ambassadors to their team. I think it really helped user adoption.

Benefits of going cloud

Core HR has just gone live across all 2700 employees in 26 countries, along with employee and manager self-service, benefits, and a basic implementation of absence management. Performance management will be extended next year to those who were not in the initial roll-out. Overla commended the help DriveStream had provided in successfully transferring three years of historic data as well as other aspects of the implementation.

He mentioned several issues that arose in the course of the project.

  • NFS uses ADP Workforce Now for payroll, for which Cloud HCM does not have built-in integration, so NSF had to build a custom integration.
  • In some countries, NSF has several legal entities. That needs careful forethought as changing legal entities in Cloud HCM is a challenge.
  • Workflow delegation rules that were in place in EBS could not be exported across to Cloud HCM.
  • The default expense account functionality that's provided in EBS requires a separate finance license in Cloud HCM — it took a while to figure that out.

But the benefits gained were worth the effort. Overla highlighted five worthwhile outcomes.

A standard global HR toolset

In our business model, a good deal of our growth comes from acquisition. Oftentimes HR is the last to know. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, 'Oh by the way we just bought a lab, we're onboarding tomorrow, in Germany.' In EBS it was much more difficult to integrate a new country, get the legislative packs to run, all the setup to do. It's much easier to roll them out in the cloud. On top of that, rolling the standard toolset.

Modern look and feel

We've got the modern look and feel that our employees wanted. Most of them really despised the look and feel of EBS. It made them nervous, versus the modern look and feel of [HCM Cloud], which looks much more like navigating a modern website.

Our HR staff feels that Fusion's a lot easier to use. The railroad train stop methodology in hiring an employee, for instance, or promotions, are a lot easier than hunting and picking for the fields that you need to fill out in EBS.

Business intelligence

We also got some enhanced business intelligence. There was no visibility into the data for managers before. In fact, managers and employees only had self service in the US. Outside the US, which is about 56% of our population, they had no visibility into their data. So even as simple as, who's on their team, they'd have to contact HR.

Data validation

We have richer built-in data validation for address and phone number.

Scalable growth

It's a more scalable solution for us to roll forward. We're at about a 15% headcount growth year over year, and this year we added nine new countries. That scalability is really important for us.

HRTechWorld 2017 Amsterdam digsupport 590px

Image credit - via NSF International

Disclosure - Wayne Overla was speaking in a DriveStream partner session at Oracle OpenWorld. Oracle is a diginomica premier partner at time of writing and funded the author's travel to attend OOW17.

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