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Case Study: Home Group

MidlandHR and Home Group: 'Working Together to Deliver a Financially Stronger Home'

May 27 2013 - Home Group is one of the leading providers of affordable and supported housing for people in the UK, working to deliver improvements to communities and provide homes for those who may struggle to get them. With a turnover of £304m, Home Group manages 55,000 homes and provides support and services to more than 120,000 people across the UK each year.

Home Group has been using iTrent, MidlandHR's specialist HR and payroll solution, since 2010. Following the successful roll-out of iTrent HR and payroll, the company introduced iTrent Employee and Manager Self-Service as a key part of its new HR strategy.

The self-service strategy was introduced to provide both employees and managers with the technologies and tools to find information relevant to them in a more user friendly, timely manner. This involved the introduction of:

  • iTrent Employee and Manager Self-Service
  • Web based learning management system
  • e-learning
  • Web based intranet portal for HR related information
  • Shared service telephony system
  • .

With plans for over 570 managers and 3200 employees to access and use iTrent Self-Service, it was clear that employee engagement would be crucial to the success of the project. It was therefore decided to give the new self-service functionality its own unique @home brand to encourage a clear identity and a consistent message across the entire organisation.

iTrent Employee Self-Service was branded as 'me@home' and would enable employees to view and update their own personal details, request a holiday, make a training course booking, link to e-learning products and access their payslips electronically.

iTrent Manager Self-Service was branded as 'team@home' and would enable managers to maintain and update their team's data, with on-demand access to information about their employment details and development as well as absence history and holiday requests. It would also allow managers to process HR changes in one place.

The Self-Service functionality would also provide access to a range of HR information such as policies and forms, essentially a 'one stop shop' for all people-related information which can be accessed remotely. This forward thinking approach would provide improved levels of service for Home Group's remote and home workers.

To further enhance access to HR related support for employees, a new HR intranet portal 'people@home' was developed and improvements were made to the Shared Services telephony system, directing callers to subject matter experts and improving management information facilities.

Providing the tools to enable more effective and efficient ways of working

At the outset, a dedicated project team came together, sponsored by the Director of Human Resources and Development (HRD). The project was central to meeting Home Group's HR initiative to 'have highly motivated and talented colleagues, by providing them with tools to enable more effective and efficient ways of working' and to support the company's overall strategic objective of 'working together to deliver a financially stronger Home'. Providing a suite of self-service products would support the empowerment of colleagues and managers by providing more efficient access to data.

The introduction of iTrent Self-Service would also provide key efficiency savings within the HRD function. Susan Coulson, Director of HRD, Home Group explains: "iTrent Self-Service would enable the team to channel resources into more value adding activities. This included the elimination of manually updating colleagues' personal details, manually processing absence and manually capturing learning and development needs. It also avoided the need for duplication and creating unnecessary data entry errors.

"It was clear that a streamlined, easy to access system that contained accurate information was required to fully support our strategy and reach our overriding objectives. Reviewing how colleagues access HR related information was of key importance, not only to ensure that they were accessing accurate information, but also that they were proficient in knowing how and where to access the information."

HRIS
Taking a Self-Service Approach

It was recognised the self-service strategy would be a fundamental change to ways of working so it was vital that the HR team engaged their colleagues in a variety of ways. This would ensure the organisation and individuals were prepared and understood the reasons for change, as well as being competent and confident in using the system - all of which, Coulson says, "has increased the acceptance of the new ways of working."

Jenna Davy, HR Business Change Partner, explains: "The HR team engaged in a range of change management activities to ensure the right approach was taken, including the building of a stakeholder map to understand 'who' we needed to engage with, conducting an impact assessment to understand how the change could affect colleagues and building a change action plan.

"A number of months were spent scoping and defining our requirements, with stakeholder involvement to ensure we produced the most efficient product, delivering the highest quality for Home Group and its users."

The systems were subsequently configured and tested intensively by a selection of current HRD system users, together with office and remotely based managers and colleagues, to ensure potential users could navigate the system and the correct functionality was present.

The roll-out of the new self-service plan was then staggered to ensure success. This included a mini-pilot (70 employees) then a main pilot (110 employees) before an incremental roll-out of the system to the rest of the organisation, via five main groups. The roll-out plan was scheduled over a six-month period and covered approximately 3,800 people in total.

To support the roll-out, a number of activities occurred, based on areas identified by the change management assessment. For example, a comprehensive learning package was provided which incorporated a live webinar session and managers' user guide for managers for team@home and an e-learning module and employees' user guide for employees for me@home.

To further support users, the HRD operational teams promoted the systems and supported colleagues at regular manager meetings. The pilot group became 'super users' and supported colleagues during the main roll out whilst the HRD shared services team provided a dedicated telephone number and email distribution list for queries.

Regular and timed briefing notes, bulletins and news articles were cascaded via the Chief Executive monthly update, weekly updates and the intranet. Information was also included within payslips and the Home Group news magazine when appropriate.

It was acknowledged that employees within certain areas of the business had limited technology skills so, whilst the use of electronic training materials was encouraged, face to face pre- and post-training drop-in sessions were also provided.

Planned benefits come to fruition

The implementation of the new self-service strategy across Home Group has delivered a number of successful outcomes and, as the project was delivered on time and within budget, many of the planned benefits also came to fruition on target.

Key benefits include:

  • More efficient, streamlined processes which have removed the need for manual intervention, double-handling of information and potential human error. This includes the functionality of the Learning Management system and the automation of all HR and payroll forms used to process payroll and employment changes
  • Robust and timely management information, improving audit compliance, and being better able to support the challenges of risk management
  • A better user experience through a more accessible HRD function, making it easier for users to locate accurate information
  • The ability for the HRD teams to focus on providing increased levels of customer service and a more proactive approach due to the automation of transactional tasks.
Evaluation and next steps

During the roll-out of the system, employees' initial reactions and levels of confidence in using the new self-service systems were monitored with managers, reporting how it allowed them to 'view all your team's information in one place' and be 'in control', whilst support workers commented on how it was 'easy to use'.

Explaining the evaluation process, Davy comments: "Throughout the project, we have welcomed and acknowledged feedback, through a variety of means, from colleagues. Where possible, suggestions have been taken on board and enhancements made, resulting in a much improved service to users. For example, after the pilot, we made a number of amendments to the system based on feedback. This included enabling delegated authority functionality for managers, creating colleague access to peer calendars and improving the roll-out communication. A 'you said we did' communication was then circulated across the organisation to update colleagues on changes and to highlight the open feedback access channels."

Following its success, Home Group has expanded its self-service strategy offering with the introduction of automated expenses which, based on the pilot, identified potentially over £20,000 savings due to historic non-compliance with policy and mileage overpayments. The project has also been extended to include performance management and plans are now in place for this to be followed with a further automation of the recruitment process.

Davy comments: "In summary, lessons learnt from the design, development, implementation and evaluation of the delivery of this project have been invaluable. Key lessons from this project have informed our change management approach for the next phase, including how we can continuously improve our stakeholder engagement, successfully embed the new processes and ensure we continue to make efficiency savings for the organisation and our colleagues.

Coulson states; "Since implementing iTrent, we have been able to demonstrably add more value as an HRD function. This is due to the visibility of robust data, which informs our decision making and helps us to challenge situations in line with our strategy.

One example of this is the identification of a large number of overpayments, where we have successfully recovered £120,000.

"There has been a huge impact on the organisation and we now have a more streamlined, efficient process providing visibility and accountability. Overall, the project has enabled us to make financial savings of over £1 million and benefits of the system will continue to be realised over the next five years, including the avoidance of historic non-compliance, allowing the system to embed further and enhancing the functionality.

"The project team has delivered and effectively embedded a number of system enhancements, including Self-Service, Learning Management, People Development, Travel and Expenses, Performance Management and electronic payslips, all within an 18 month period, on time and within budget. This would have been impossible without the vision, visibility and accountability which came out of the excellent working partnership between MidlandHR and our senior leadership team."

Home Group Success

Organisational Objective:

  • To meet Home Group’s objective, ‘Working together to deliver a financially stronger Home’ in line with their Housing with Care strategy

HR departmental Objectives

  • To meet Home Group’s HR initiative to ‘have highly motivated and talented colleagues by providing them with tools to enable more effective and efficient ways of working’
  • To provide accurate information through a single, streamlined, easy to access system

Project Objectives

  • Enable employees and managers to source information in a more user friendly, timely manner
  • To provide a ‘one stop shop’ for all people-related information which can be accessed remotely
  • To improve levels of service for remote and home workers

Solution:

Home Group has chosen a number of MidlandHR’s iTrent modules including Learning Management, People Development, Travel & Expenses and Performance Management. This case study focuses on:

  • Employee Self-Service
  • Manager Self-Service

Benefits:

  • More efficient, streamlined processes which have removed the need for manual intervention, double-handling of information and potential human error. This includes the functionality of the Learning Management system and the automation of all HR and payroll forms used to process payroll and employment changes
  • Robust and timely management information, improving audit compliance, and being better able to support the challenges of risk management
  • A better user experience through a more accessible HRD function, making it easier for users to locate accurate information
  • The ability for the HRD teams to focus on providing increased levels of customer service and a more proactive approach due to the automation of transactional tasks.

Results:

Greater visibility and accountability which has enabled Home Group to make initial savings - measured between April 2011 and May 2012 - of over £1 million including:

  • An annual saving of £27,000 through the removal of producing and posting paper payslips and P60s for 3,800 employees
  • Contributing to a broader project which saw a reduction in headcount of operational administrators. This was due to the automation and increased ownership by managers of people processes, saving approximately £488,000 overall
  • Reduction in headcount of HR support staff due to automation of systems is an average annual salary of £17,000
  • Automation of HR and Payroll forms saw a saving of £5,000. A further saving of £3,000 was made by eliminating the need for two additional temporary staff for administrative support during peak times
  • £20,000 savings on historic non-compliance for mileage overpayments - when the expenses module was introduced, it highlighted where employees had not previously been compliant with the expenses policy process and had therefore incorrectly claimed expenses. The system was configured to reduce error and, as a result, £20,000 of expenses which would have previously been claimed and processed via the old paper based system were identified.

Absence

  • Accurate visibility and monitoring of absence has contributed to a 25% reduction in sick days equating to just under £300,000 savings
  • The identification of a large number of absence and salary overpayments, allowing successful recovery of £120,000

E-learning

  • Hosting a single e-learning platform rather than multiple sites sees a saving of £5,000
  • Ability to provide a wider selection of development via e-learning, which has reduced and avoided face-to-face training costs by £486,000 and increased the ability to monitor legal / employee well being obligations such as fire awareness training


 

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