by Alison Weiss, February 2014
Today, more companies are crossing borders with international acquisitions to expand their businesses. But global growth is presenting huge challenges for human resources (HR) executives. Not only must they deal with different cultures and languages when integrating the new entities, but leaders must continually ensure that HR is strategically servicing and supporting the overall business. They need to create comprehensive systems to attract, cultivate, and retain the right employees – and gather the intelligence to gain insights into performance and business metrics.
To cope, a 2012 study by The RBL Group, a Provo, UT-based consulting firm, suggests that successful HR administrators must be technology proponents to attend to critical long-term strategic talent management practices, along with the more traditional daily HR administrative processes. These are the very goals that prompted WESCO International leaders to work with TITAN GS, an Oracle Platinum partner based in Charlotte, NC, to adopt TITAN’s end-to-end Global People Solution (GPS) HR Outsourcing model powered by Oracle E-Business Suite.
WESCO, headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, is a leading provider of electrical, industrial, and communications maintenance, repair, and operating and original equipment manufacturers products. It also offers construction materials and advanced supply chain management and logistic services. The company has approximately 9,000 employees in more than 475 locations in 18 countries. Over the last few years, WESCO has expanded sales and strengthened business via international acquisitions, including three in Canada alone. The latest, LaPrairie Inc., based in Newmarket, Ontario, was just finalized in Dec. 2013. While this has been a very savvy business strategy, the company did not have the corresponding HR systems in place to easily support its rapid growth. Executives needed a fully integrated, end-to-end human capital management (HCM) solution that could streamline the onboarding process for employees from acquired companies, automate employee transaction approvals, provide robust performance management and success planning processes, integrate job posting information, and make employee data and reporting readily available to managers.
According to Kim Windrow, vice president of HR at WESCO, almost all HR employee transactions were based on paper processes. Performance appraisals didn’t exist or were done on paper, succession planning was done on a home-grown system that was clunky and difficult to access, and there was no way to easily track job applicants. Further, the company’s lean IT staff needed to devote resources to integrate key enterprise systems from newly acquired companies rather than supporting HR, which was not their area of expertise.
“We wanted to be able to scale and quickly integrate employees from new international acquisitions, but I couldn’t even do the simplest headcount report,” Windrow says. “I needed to completely transform HR and really automate processes.”
We wanted to be able to scale and quickly integrate employees from new international acquisitions, but I couldn’t even do the simplest headcount report. I needed to completely transform HR and really automate processes.
Windrow was adamant that whatever HCM system WESCO selected, it needed to be an integrated HCM option – payroll, benefits, and talent management – and it needed to be easily supportable since there were few IT support resources to spare. TITAN GS professionals were indispensable in providing guidance to help Windrow and her staff to make an informed choice.
“Our services are end-to-end,” says Kephanie Landess, partner at TITAN GS. “We begin with our Compass service to help customers understand the scope and requirements for HCM projects and solidify their strategy, timelines, and project-planning. And we also determine what managed services we will provide to support the HR organization, freeing IT staff to focus on other areas of expertise.”
Ultimately, because WESCO management was already using Oracle E-Business Suite, it selected TITAN GS’s GPS HCM outsourcing option, powered by Oracle E-Business Suite. Managed services are provided by TITAN GS to ensure that core systems are effectively supported with technical upgrades, patches, and fixes. WESCO can also take advantage of HR Analytics, iRecruitment, and Self Service, among other Oracle E-Business Suite HCM modules. In addition, WESCO can make use of specific HR business process outsourcing (BPO) cloud-based services offered by TITAN as part of GPS, including open enrollment, US and Canada Payroll interface services, and other benefits management services.
Because Windrow wanted to do a “big-bang” approach rather than a phased approach, approximately 14 months were spent on tasks, including creating custom reporting interfaces. The majority of applications went live in March 2012, and the last, succession planning, went live in July 2012 – as planned.
Now that the system has been in use for over a year, Windrow reports that it has helped every HR executive in the company gain better visibility across the board into the workforce, and improved overall talent management. Not only is it much quicker to integrate new employees from acquired companies, but it is also easier to see the number and types of candidates interested in a job for a particular region or state. Succession planning is greatly improved with reports that give executives a clear view of direct and indirect reports and the types of programs each employee is involved in to be ready for promotion. Executives are also making use of Compensation Workbench, a tool to track compensation rates for specific areas and to analyze proposed raises for the coming year. Leaders especially appreciate TITAN GS’s People IQ reporting tool that sits on top of Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), making analytics much more user-friendly and available across the suite of services.
Woodrow is pleased that there is now a very structured, automated, and efficient approach to servicing both the HR organization and the broader end-user employee organization across the globe. Employees like using the self-service online features of the system rather than the old, inefficient paper-based systems.
And because TITAN is continuing its push to expand internationally, Woodrow understands that it is imperative to continually ensure that the HCM system is strategically enabling the global growth of the business. Currently, TITAN staff members are helping onboard a recent WESCO acquisition with about 1,400 new employees, and they will spearhead a software upgrade project at WESCO in 2014. Woodrow is even considering the possibility of integrating Oracle Fusion HCM technology to take advantage of new modules offering improved workforce analytics.
“It used to be HR was transactional and administrative, but now it’s strategic. HR executives in global companies are very much at the table with the C-levels planning how HR is going to service their organizations,” says Landess. “Our GPS solution helps manage global HR responsibility – everything from culture and language to self-service tools for employees or reporting in analytics to understand what you have in your workforce.”
Alison Weiss is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area and a frequent contributor to Profit.