Working Around the Clock

Solutia leverages HCL Technologies expertise and PeopleSoft 9.1 to manage employees in any time zone.

by Alison Weiss, August 2011

Globalization has brought many benefits to multinational manufacturers; increased access to a diversified workforce, deployment of locations closer to customer base, and improved distribution processes to name just a few. But these benefits bring new challenges managing operations around the world—such as the burden of siloed information systems and the demands of local regulations and labor practices. As multinational firms experience more internationalization, they increasingly must balance the need for coordination, shared learning and standardization with the flexibility to adapt to local organizations with customization, according to research published by the Martin P. Catherwood Library School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.

Solutia is a market-leading performance materials and specialty chemicals company. With its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, the company operates globally with approximately 3,300 employees in more than 50 worldwide locations. With a need to manage its most important asset — a growing global workforce— Solutia teamed up with Oracle partner HCL Technologies Ltd. to upgrade its PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) application from version 8.9 to 9.1.

HCL Technologies (HCL) is a global IT services company and an Oracle Platinum Partner. The company has achieved Oracle Partner Network Specialized status in Oracle E-Business Suite Financials and Supply Chain Management. HCL has extensive experience implementing PeopleSoft projects, which made them an excellent choice for Solutia’s project, according to Sachin Kothari, Solutia IT applications manager. “We were looking for key people to work onsite to help with upgrade tasks and provide retrofit expertise and testing.” And while HCL initially had a purely technical role in the project, their functional role expanded as the project progressed because their input proved to be very valuable.

HCL’s first step working with Solutia was to understand the business requirements driving the PeopleSoft 9.1 project. “We started by understanding their business processes and the modules they were already using,” said Maruti Nandan, HCL project manager. He adds, “We wanted to clearly outline what the value was to upgrading and what benefits Solutia would realize in the new release of PeopleSoft 9.1.” To ensure that Solutia used the full power PeopleSoft provides, HCL worked with Solutia to implement best practices and rationalize customizations and retire legacy HR applications.

Solutia and HCL opted for a two-phase project approach. “Phase one was an upgrade that created a much simpler environment,” says Kothari. This phase was finished in November 2010. Phase two involves adding functionality and new enhancements and should be completed in second quarter 2011 with internal resources.

Besides the main task of upgrading to PeopleSoft 9.1, HCL also helped with data cleansing and streamlining of applications. “We’ve used PeopleSoft for more than 15 years, but over time there was a lot of customization, which was challenging to support,” says Kothari.

By eliminating redundant data and customizations, Solutia’s system is easier to manage and maintain, and Solutia has benefited from improved performance as well. HCL also worked with Solutia to deploy enhanced security controls to meet the needs of a global HRMS system.

Kothari reports that Solutia management is very happy with the outcome of the project. “I’d rank HCL very high,” Kothari said. “They understand our needs and are a good complement to what we have in-house.”