Cement company builds HR system in-house

Lack of market options forces move for Australian supplier

With no off-the-shelf products able to fill its needs, Cement Australia has developed its own tailored human resources information system that now receives more than 10,000 visits per week from employees, suppliers and associates.

The HR RAFT (Remuneration, Automated Functions and Transactions) system replaced a patchwork of legacy applications and inherited business processes.

Cement Australia collaboration and development manager Ian Norvock says the company wanted a fully integrated HR system, addressing the full gamut of HR transactions, learning and development and performance management while also analysing intranet usage.

He says the company also wanted to leverage existing investments in the SAP ERP system and IBM Lotus Domino infrastructure.

Cement Australia engaged IBM business partner Eros Solutions to build a portal that would streamline management processes and make appropriate HR information available to staff.

"It made sense to build something we had full control over, that was affordable. We were able to start small and grow gradually," Norvock says.

"Eros designed the solution to ensure we didn't have to go out and buy servers to support a new system that no one knew how to use."

Eros Solutions project manager and principal consultant Sean Kelly says HR RAFT was built on IBM Web Content Management, Lotus Domino and Lotus Enterprise Integrator to simplify management tasks and provide a flexible framework for future projects.

"This environment delivered a secure framework to leverage existing business applications and SAP master data through a user-friendly web interface, addressing both HR and iServices top priorities for the project," he says.

The new system now provides a platform for accurate and up-to-date HR information where employees across the business can access payslips, annual leave balances, forms, recruitment processes and reporting online.

The portal also stores a vast and growing library of self-service information on HR policies and training, and allows managers to do routine tasks such as annual salary reviews and approving forms online.

Since implementation, average response times to transaction requests has been reduced from three to five days to less than 24 hours, and data accuracy has improved from 60% to 98%.

Cement Australia's general manager of people and performance, Wayne Beel, says there have been significant cost savings associated with removing 20,000 pieces of paper, which has translated to less administration work for the HR team.

"We now have a strong audit trail and our employees can track their progress in any approval process," he says.

"The portal means everyone is accountable and our processes are transparent.

"The sheer volume of traffic using HR RAFT is a true indicator of how well it has been picked up by our employees, suppliers and associates and this has only been possible because it is so user-friendly."

Beel says the system represents a platform upon which many other business improvements can be made for the organisation's ongoing growth and development.

He says the strong infrastructure has already been leveraged by other business units to facilitate the deployment of rapid and cost effective portals for a wide range of needs and applications including Support for Employee Accommodation and Travel (SEAT) and the company's communications portal (Voice).

"The plan is to continue growing the system over time, integrating more HR and other business processes, introducing information kiosks at plans and shipping facilities and slowly getting rid of older, unreliable forms of staff communication," Beel says.

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Tags managementcement australiahr raft

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