City of Calgary tinkers with HR app

MIAMI – The City of Calgary has gone live with a system that will standardize the way time and attendance information will be captured, stored and managed for its 15,000 employees.

Launched Jan. 1, the time and attendance system is based on a module within the former PeopleSoft’s Human Capital Management (HCM) product. Members from the team behind the project were discussing it at IDS-Scheer’s ProcessWorld 2006 user conference as an example of how modeling processes can ease a system redesign.

Calgary first started implementing PeopleSoft HR tools in 1999, followed by PeopleSoft Financials and some of its supply chain products. The later implementations involved different versions of the PeopleSoft product line, which didn’t make integration easy, said Wendy Nadon, a business process consultant with the city. PeopleSoft Financials, for example, wound up being broken up into pieces, such that it wasn’t possible to implement other PeopleSoft modules.

The city started working on time and attendance capture in part because process modeling showed it was being done in a number of different systems across its 31 departments. Time and labour data factors into leave accrual, and the use of multiple standalone payroll systems complicated the reconciliations the city would have to do at year end to calculate the liabilities it faced due to leave policies. Calgary’s municipal workforce uses 16 different collective agreements and labour policies, said Stephanie Logan, change management team lead. This included departments as diverse as real estate acquisitions, roads, transit and emergency services.

“This is what I ate, slept, drank and thought about 24/7, for a year and a half,” she said. “Each of them think of themselves as very different businesses, and we had to sell this idea (of a single system) to them.”

The city used IDS-Scheer’s ARIS tool to model the way it captured time and attendance across departments, creating a visual representation of the discrete steps and the business rules behind them. Modelling is useful not only in planning out a process change, Nadon said. It also identifies what problems can be solved by technology and what can’t. In one example, models brought out the fact that information was being entered into four different systems to track inconsistencies in emergency services.

“The modeling shows you where the controls need to be,” Nadon said. “In most organizations there’s not enough checking but in this case there was too much. It’s a case of where somebody got into trouble for something five years ago and so now everybody checks everything five times.”

Although city officials recommended automating a process that was costing too much time and money, Nadon proved through her model that only three per cent of the process would be addressed by automation, while the remaining 97 per cent was influenced by the way people were doing their work. “You can’t automate a lot of these complex business rules,” she said. “Either you continue to work with paper or you change the rules.”

The models also indicated what parts of the new time and attendance system would require customization, Logan said. The transit department, for instance, used its own system that also co-ordinated routes, buses and drivers. “Looking at the models, (the head of transit) knew fully what the time and attendance system we were proposing could do and what it couldn’t do,” said Logan, adding that the majority of departments were moved to the standard PeopleSoft HCM module. “In most cases we redesigned processes to fit the vanilla solution.”

The city worked with a local IDS-Scheer partner, Kogawa Consulting, whose principal Don King spoke about the challenges involved in these sorts of projects in another roundtable discussion at ProcessWorld.

“People don’t always know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They’ve just been doing it for so long,” he said. “Even if you used all the processes available in SAP, you’re still going to have to do some kind of business process redesign if you’re going to implement something new.”

IDS Scheer announced at ProcessWorld 2006 that 2005 ARIS Platform licence revenues have grown over 100 per cent last year, due to implementations at Chevron, Lucent, World Bank, PepsiCo and several others.

ProcessWorld 2006 continues through Wednesday.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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