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Self-service HR ends tyranny of the ‘print, sign, scan’ loop for Mitsubishi UFJ

Janine Milne Profile picture for user jmilne January 19, 2015
Mitsubishi UFJ anticipates the simple life… once it’s ousted its multiple HR systems across multiple countries for a single, cloud-based Fairsail solution

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As a company we’ve grown pretty rapidly both through acquisition and organic growth and increased the number of staff. An acquisition made one and half years ago added complexity, which was increasing exponentially and we needed to get on top of it.

The challenge outlined by Tim Thornton, chief data officer at global asset administrator at Mitsubishi UFJ Fund Services, is a familiar one. Expansion may push forward growth, but it also adds complexity.

The best way to untangle that complexity, as Mitsubishi UFJ realized, was through standardisation and consolidation.

The asset administrator’s 500 or so employees are spread across seven or eight different international locations and use different HR legacy systems. Consolidating that into one system of record would simplify HR’s job and improve reporting.

Building something internally was quickly rejected by the company in favour of an off-the-shelf solution. A cloud solution quickly emerged as the favored approach, because it meant less spend on hardware and support and would leave IT able to apply their time and resources elsewhere.

As Thornton says:

We’re not an HR company. We want to spend resources on things that can make us money.

Adopting a cloud approach doesn’t faze the organization, as the sales team are already using a cloud-based system and are fully aware of the benefits and challenges.

Appropriate back-ups will be put in place, but using a cloud-based system means IT doesn’t need to buy another server, ensuring that “the CTO is very happy”, according to Thornton.

Selecting a provider

Fairsail won over the company not only because of the quality of functions available in the suite, including performance management, talent acquisition and report generation, but also because it specifically targeted and understood the requirements of mid-sized, international companies.

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TIm Thornton

A shortlist was drawn up in September and the 12 suppliers were whittled down to a possible three, before a final decision was made to go with Fairsail. A contract was signed in October.

Before Christmas, the two firms ran a discovery workshop, which was an opportunity for Mitsubishi to explain to Fairsail how its data and processes worked. It was a chance for the organization to outline the complex cross-border statutory requirements, different benefits and processes that existed across the multiple locations.

It was also an opportunity for Fairsail to show the firm different ways of doing things.

Fairsail is working on the design and aims to have the system up and running by the end of the quarter. While the provider perfects the design, Mitsubishi is busy cleansing the data, in particular pulling together data from their different silos and uploading it into one place.

A key attribute of the new system is that it introduces self-service, says Thornton. This enables individuals to fill in HR data, such as holiday requests, online:

That’s an attraction to us. There’s a lot of time spent on ‘print, sign and scan’ activities and then send them back to HR and I want to eliminate that. It’s a minor thing to save five minutes, but if you extrapolate that across the business….

Thornton’s own team is split across continents, so he can directly see how doing this type of HR activity online will ease the tyranny of the print, sign scan activities that no one enjoys. Least of all, he says HR themselves:

It means HR can get working on more value added and productive things like talent management rather than dealing with admin.

Thornton points out that Fairsail is working on a new interface to work with handheld devices, which will mean people can log on from the airport or train. He expects this to be a great benefit for the organization in the future.

Reporting is a key are where the new system will have a radical impact on existing practices. Since the takeover eighteen months ago, there has been a “step-change” in reporting requirements. It can take two or three days to pull together information – some of which is on spreadsheets – to compile reports before being sent off to the Tokyo headquarters. This process will be much easier and faster once the new system is implemented. Thornton adds:

We’ve got a lot of very good technology people and every hour spend on HR queries is time not spent on revenue growing.

A prerequisite of that working effectively is to have a single source of data, says Thornton, which he admits “sounds a lot easier than it is to do”.

Wider thinking

This is all part of a wider enterprise data management (EDM) initiative at the company to improve data governance and the way it manages and uses data. HR is just one component in its quest for a single source of data, data validation rules and improved reporting. So the fact that Fairsail makes it relatively easy to get data in and out of the system was another important element in their choice of supplier. \

Another area where Fairsail will be helping is with payroll. Mitsubishi outsources payroll, but Fairsail will ensure that all these disparate systems are integrated.

The implementation will be carried out in two main phases to give users time to get used to the new system. Phase one will establish the core data, reporting and processes. Phase two – probably in mid-2015 – will bring on board performance management and talent management.

Performance management is currently still a manual task, involving mangers filling in five to seven page form covering core competencies by role and department.

Fairsail will be replicating that form online. But what’s key is that it will enable the company to do some analytics on the data, which is difficult with its manual system. HR will be able to examine, for example, the effect of training on team performance, which it cannot easily do now. It will also enable HR to make better talent planning decisions.

But all that is a little way down the road. For now, says Thornton, the focus is on the implementation:

We’ll get the benefits when we get the implementation right. So that’s our main focus.

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