Desjardins rolls out human capital management app

Quebec’s largest financial institution has just completed a test phase of its human capital management solution, and is now rolling it out across its entire network.

The Federation des caisses Desjardins du Quebec is

a cooperative financial group, made up of a network of caisses. A caisse is similar to a credit union; it’s a private business, but is part of a group of 600 caisses in Quebec that form Desjardins.

Technomedia Training Inc. and Bell Canada are providing the Web-based solution, called SIGAL. The test phase was part of a five-year contract between Desjardins and Bell, which owns 49 per cent of Technomedia.

SIGAL is a modular technology platform that integrates management of competencies, performance, succession, recruitment and careers as well as learning and content.

So far, about 200 caisses are using the online application, which integrates SIGAL’s competency management and training modules. Desjardins is currently rolling out the latest version of the applications in an effort to improve the company’s training development process, and expects to complete the migration by the end of this year.

Dejardins is the largest employer in Quebec, and it’s spending a lot of money on training and upgrading personnel capabilities, according to Carmen Comeau, human resources director at Desjardins in Montreal. In the financial services business, having well-trained personnel will make the organization more competitive, she adds.

The caisses are scattered around Quebec, and this is a way Desjardins can reach all of its personnel by helping them train through computers, at their convenience.

“[We’re going] gradually because we have a big network,” she said, which will affect about 28,000 employees.

For all key jobs, Desjardins has defined competency profiles, where individuals are rated against an expected competency level.

“If there’s a gap, that will trigger some learning solutions to close the gap, allowing you as an individual to perform hopefully within the not-too-distant future at the desired level of competency,” said Jacques Gaumond, vice-president of sales and marketing with Technomedia in Toronto. The solution also includes access to online learning to reduce travel costs associated with classroom instruction.

The main challenge with such a large rollout was bandwidth. The caisses are spread across the province, in every corner of Quebec. Each caisse has to make sure it has sufficient bandwidth at the point of service to support an online training course, without disrupting banking traffic.

“All that work is done at the branch or point of service,” he said. “Nothing should slow down.”

Once SIGAL is rolled out across the province, it will allow bank managers and employees to be autonomous in executing human capital management processes.

It will also give Desjardins a more accurate picture of its total employee base at any given time. “To have that knowledge not only at the branch level but also at the central point for the entire organization is really a major benefit as opposed to asking people, have you done it, what are the results,” he said. “This data is centralized.”

Down the road, Desjardins will be able to add modules onto the current platform, including performance management and succession planning, and SIGAL will provide integrated HR management for all processes related to human capital development.

“That’s part of the grand plan,” said Gaumond. “First we wanted to upgrade to the new version – once that’s underway we’re starting to plan the next phase and other application modules.”

Besides caisses, Desjardins has about 20 subsidiaries in life and general insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management. These subsidiaries are not yet using the SIGAL modules.

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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