CIBC moves to self-service compensation process

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is preparing to launch the second phase of an IT project that will turn the bulk of its human resources operations into a set of Web-based self service programs.

Monday marked the one-year

anniversary of CIBC’s $227 million, seven-year agreement with EDS Canada whereby the outsourcer is creating applications and online tools to handle the bank’s systems support, payroll and financial reconciliation and management, among other areas. Some 260 IT and operational employees were transferred from CIBC to EDS as part of the deal. The bank employs about 45,000 people around the world, all of whom will be using the new system.

The first stage of what the two companies are calling Project MeHRlin was completed this spring. This was the launch of a secure employee portal, called myHR, based on PeopleSoft 8’s Human Resources Management Systems. The second stage, due this summer, will bring online the bank’s entire compensation and planning systems. This will include applications for thousands of employees at CIBC who have people management responsibilities to handle the full performance and compensation cycle themselves.

Beginning in September, for example, managers will be able to access compensation data for all their employees over the last several years regardless of country, currency or any other factors. They will then conduct performance reviews electronically and make decisions or recommendations on base salaries and equity issues.

Like many enterprises, CIBC has moved its employee review cycle from the individual’s anniversary date to an end-of-year cycle, but regional differences across its operation remain. Pay dates, for example, might be different in Japan than Canada, as are bonus payout dates.

Hugh McDonald, the vice-president of strategic alliances at CIBC’s human resources operation, said “”one-up managers”” will also use the browser-based tools to examine the performance reviews conducted by subordinate managers. The application will include for two-cycle iteration so they can ask for changes.

“”There are early adopters that just see the immediate benefits and the advantage of e-HR and self-service and so on, and they jump on it right away,”” McDonald said. “”Others need more support . . . this is the kind of thing it’s hard to train on with traditional training methods.””

To ease the transition, EDS has taken over one of CIBC’s call centres for HR support questions. About 90 per cent of calls are being answered in about 20 seconds, McDonald said, and call-tracking software has been installed to measure its progress. On the other hand, McDonald said most employees would probably find it fairly simple to adapt to the browser-based interface since they use similar applications in their day-to-day jobs.

“”These days, most firms — and CIBC is one of those firms — has invested in money in training over the last decade. I wouldn’t suggest all systems are intuitive, but at some point your training becomes more of a polishing action more than something you’re doing from scratch.””

Sean McNamara, EDS’s client executive for the CIBC account, said managing change is among the biggest challenges in the move to self-service HR, partly because of the complexity and disparate number of systems involved.

“”It’s just changing certain behaviors and the way people do business,”” he said, suggesting that workers might one day regard self-service HR with the same comfort level they have with automated teller machines. “”That’s taken a period of time to change consumer behavior. It’s providing the encouragement and nurturing people to try a different mechanism. But it allows people to do it on their own time and their own pace.””

IDC Canada analyst Jason Bremner said that while the CIBC project marks one of the largest self-serve HR projects, many financial institutions have been doing pieces of this for some time. “”Most of the banks, if not all of them, don’t do their own payroll any longer,”” he said. “”That’s where it all started. Payroll’s one of the triggers that leads them into the area of more full-fledged business process outsourcing or what we call business processing services.””

About 40 per cent of the bank’s IT and HR department moved over to EDS. “”What stayed at CIBC are essentially our consulting staff: our experts in staffing, employee relations, labour relations and all the various professional disciplines in HR,”” McDonald said, adding that the workers who joined EDS are in a better position to make use of their talents. “”(At the bank) they weren’t front-line, revenue-generating employees. Now they are.””

McNamara estimated that almost 45 per cent of EDS employees have been transitioned from client firms. “”There’s no question that that is a huge, huge advantage. I’m not sure outsourcing of that magnitude can be done without transitioning employees,”” he said. “”You need that knowledge of the customers. You need to know where to go, and with employees from the client (the project) becomes fairly seamlesss to users.””

The final phase of MeHRlin will involve converting all legacy data from CIBC’s 30 HR systems into the PeopleSoft-based system. McDonald said this should be done sometime next year.


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