Calgary sticks with PeopleSoft HRMS

The City of Calgary has chosen to upgrade to a platform executives say will be supported for the long term and will provide a base on which to add greater functionality down the road.

The municipality had been using PeopleSoft’s HRMS 7.51 since 1999, and with support for that version running out Calgary decided this year to upgrade to PeopleSoft’s HCM 8.8, which maintained its existing capabilities and systems while allowing the city to take advantage of a greater range of capabilities.

Gilles Champagne manager of employee services, human resources for the City of Calgary, said as a municipality it was important for Calgary to stay on a supported platform. It relies on the system for its human resources and payroll.

He said the city considered going to version 8.3 late last year, but decided to wait when he heard there was a newer version coming that would take the organization into 2007.

“As a municipality we have to be judicious with our resources by going with a release we know is working well in the marketplace and will be supported long-term,” said Champagne.

The city was using the old platform primarily for basic human resources, benefits, and payroll functions, and Champagne said they never really took full advantage of some of the extended benefits of the software. That’s changed with the upgrade, which included properly configuring their benefits administration system.

“We’ve automated a lot of the functions that we were doing manually before to give us better control over our administration,” said Champagne. “We’re still using the system for those base HR and payroll functions, but what it’s done is open up a lot of doors for us.”

When Calgary first installed HRMS 7.51 in 1999, Champagne said the city heavily customized the benefits program to match the function and feel of their legacy system, which limited its capabilities. With the upgrade the municipality decided to bring the system as much back to “vanilla” as possible.

“We took a hard look at what were the best practices we wanted to keep and what could be better done another way,” said Champagne. “It made the product a lot easier to manage and keep up to date.”

The most obvious benefit for Calgary so far has been the processing time to run its bi-weekly payroll, which Champagne said has been cut in half. In addition to the upgrade, Champagne said that improvement can also be traced to moving from a shared server to separate servers for the Web, applications and its database.

The Web-based architecture of the new platform is allowing Calgary to deploy the first phase of self-service applications to 400 users, and Champagne said it is also beginning to roll out an e-recruiting application.

“This will really help us get a pay-back out of the upgrade,” said Champagne.

Stephen Pratt, solutions delivery program manager for PeopleSoft Consulting Canada, said the e-recruiting module will allow any line manager at the city to make a job requisition online to fill a position within their department. The information is routed into the recruiting system that looks at the position requirements and recommends how it should be advertised and what the strategy should be for filling the position.

“Once it’s Web-enabled, anyone externally or internally can apply for the position,” said Pratt. “It’s really automating the process by removing the paper handoff and should get a better candidate and take less time to fill the position.”

With the upgrade to HCM 8.8, Pratt said there is a whole range of other functionalities Calgary can add onto the platform. One of them, succession planning, takes a look at the demographics of a workforce; trying to determine which positions in the organization will need to be recruited in the future, if they can be filled from within the organization, and what kind of training will need to put in place to make sure candidates are qualified.

Pratt said competencies are used to rate what skills are required for a particular position and the skills each person has. For example, a public relations manager would have a high communications rating, and you’d look for someone with similar competencies to fill that position. The system examines the competencies of the employees to see who has the right skill sets.

“Companies are really just starting to take advantage of these kinds of capabilities in their human resources planning,” said Pratt.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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