It’s vaguely ironic that, despite having a company in the group that sells management information systems for schools and hence aware of the benefits of a central database, we were, until very recently, still managing all of our HR activity on paper forms and spreadsheets.
Just a quick calculation for 100 employees suggested that the HR office (yes we are fortunate to have one of those) was handling 1200 bits of paper annually just to manage leave and other absence.
So about a year ago that’s exactly where I started – to find a system to manage holidays, other leave types and sickness absence. Preferably on a self-service basis.
What I found was a plethora of systems, none of which quite did what we needed. At one end there were very complex and expensive packages, but aside from cost I suspected there would be a lot of resource overhead involved with those too. At the other, systems so simple that they’d be easy to use, but a bit limiting. I also looked at self-installed software and open source – many were depressingly old fashioned and the only viable option I found was OrangeHRM – but an install that didn’t quite work and a failure to get any response for a quote for paid-for extras did not bode well.
The HR team really liked the BreatheHR user interface but I liked some additional flexibility in the PeopleHR system and was brilliantly impressed with the customer attention too. So PeopleHR got the vote.
Then the hard work really started.
What we had of course uncovered was that we really needed to move well beyond absence planning and put our whole HR process onto the system. In turn, that lead us to examine everything we did – every policy we maintained – and so on.
The summary story is it’s been a lot of work but the system is well received and our HR systems have had a thorough spring clean and sort out. Employees have also really taken to the system – they can access it anywhere and instantly sort out leave requests without ambiguity.
Part of the success came from running systems in parallel for a few months on the first company to implement. That provided confidence and much valuable learning.
Now we are implemented across the UK staff there’s a phase 2 planned where we’ll look to implement overseas staff on the system, move performance management onto an online recording and tracking basis and automate some of our correspondence processes.
Meantime we’re really pleased with PeopleHR and the back-up provided. Just don’t ask me what it’s like to overhaul more than 50 HR policies over the Christmas break!