Hearst transforms back office in the cloud to support growth

Leading media company consolidates on integrated finance, inventory management, and HR application platform products.


One of the things that we realized early on was that this is a different type of relationship with a software company. It wasn’t just selling software to us. It was about developing a long-term relationship.

Debra RobinsonSenior Vice President and CIO, Oracle Technology and Operations, Hearst

Business challenges

Hearst Communications is one of the largest media and information services companies, with holdings that include newspapers (such as the San Francisco Chronicle and Houston Chronicle); more than 300 magazines (including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, and Good Housekeeping); stakes in cable TV networks (such as ESPN, A&E, Lifetime); 33 TV stations; a range of marketing, healthcare, transportation, and other digital services businesses; and global financial services leader Fitch Ratings.

But diversification—Hearst now operates 360 different businesses worldwide—left the New York-based company with lots of different finance and human resources processes managed by outdated, disconnected, highly customized applications that yielded inconsistent data. That application environment made it difficult for Hearst’s finance and HR functions to rapidly adapt to business changes and deliver new digital capabilities.

Hearst needed to consolidate onto a state-of-the-art cloud financial, HR, and inventory management application platform to support the iconic media company’s strategy and growth ambitions.

With Oracle Cloud applications, we don’t just look at HR analytics by themselves. We don’t just look at finance analytics on their own. It’s really: How do you merge the insights from both the finance side and the HCM side? Having an integrated platform is allowing us to do that.

David HovstadiusSenior Vice President of Finance Operations, Hearst

Why Hearst chose Oracle

Hearst standardized on an integrated portfolio of Oracle Cloud applications, choosing Oracle Cloud ERP for core finance, procurement, and project management; Oracle Cloud EPM for planning and financial close; Oracle Cloud HCM for global HR, talent management, and learning; and Oracle Cloud SCM for inventory management.

Management selected Oracle Integration to help reduce the risk, cost, and delivery time for transitioning its 25-year-old legacy applications environment to the cloud, while preparing the company for future acquisitions. Prebuilt adapters enabled the team to quickly connect Oracle Cloud applications with third-party SaaS and on-premises applications, including Salesforce, Oracle E-Business Suite, and custom applications built with Service-Oriented Architecture.

Hearst wanted a partner with proven maturity operating in the cloud-based business model, as well as a flexible platform able to keep up with constantly changing customer, business, and regulatory demands. Hearst also needed ERP and EPM systems that are fully integrated with its HCM systems, so that it could perform consistent data analytics across its finance and HR functions. And with digital media talent at a premium, the executive team wanted a system that could promote employee engagement and help it up-skill talent.

Hearst also liked the engagement of senior Oracle product executives on its implementation steering committee, where they provided biweekly updates, answered questions, and offered advice post-go-live on how to maximize the investments. “We’re really happy with the relationship and partnership with Oracle,” says David Hovstadius, senior vice president of finance operations.


Hearst’s implementation of Oracle Cloud applications allowed it to improve financial reporting and gain insights in near real time while reducing IT support costs. Meantime, it reduced more than 15 unique charts of accounts down to a single one, enabling delivery of reports to senior leaders in a matter of minutes, improving decision-making.

Oracle Cloud HCM helped improve productivity for 20,000 employees with an intuitive and engaging experience and increased HR staff productivity on strategic activities by reducing time spent on routing activities.  New hires can also be productive faster, thanks to the automation and centralization of the employee onboarding process. Hearst reduced its number of job codes from 7,000 to 1,700.

With Oracle, Hearst also was able to simplify internal and external audit work by automating and standardizing business processes across eight business units spanning 150 countries. In addition, the company reduced employee attrition by analyzing turnover data and making it easier for employees to view and apply for internal job openings.

Oracle’s financial applications helped Hearst improve planning and budgeting by replacing six discrete software tools with one.

Hearst is using the micro-learning capabilities within Oracle Cloud LMS, “putting a lot of emphasis on well-being and emotional training,” says Senior VP/CIO Debra Robinson, who also oversees HCM technology, operations, and support at Hearst. “The benefits have been endless on the HCM side.”


Hearst selected Accenture to lead the implementation across multiple back-office applications and delivered one modern cloud platform to unify Hearst’s business units.

Published:September 14, 2020