Recruitment, payroll and performance reviews in the cloud
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HR software has well and truly made the move to the cloud, with Software as a Service being the most common delivery model. Computerworld talked to users and analysts to get a feel for the risks and benefits.
University of Otago
Recruitment at the University of Otago used to be a manual and paper-based process. The organisation wanted to move to an online model and a more streamlined process, says Shane Sturgeon, HR projects manager at the university. There was also a need to recruit more candidates from around the world, some in highly specialised positions in their particular area, to Dunedin – a place that can seem very far away, he says.
The university went through an RFP process and decided on an enterprise recruitment module from US company Taleo, which was acquired by Oracle in February this year. Parts of the system have been in place since December 2010, with increased online access for managers delivered throughout 2011.
Today, the whole recruitment process is conducted in the web-based system, Sturgeon says. Candidates can register their interest for jobs; complete their profiles; and search for, view and apply for jobs via the online portal. Managers and HR staff can access the information and perform tasks such as approvals – online, wherever in the world they are, he says.
“The solution enables a streamlined process where managers are able to see candidate applications as they come in, and can start vetting,” says Steve Wood, HR information systems manager at the University of Otago.
Previously, applications for a job would have gone into a drawer in a filing cabinet, he says. Once the position closed they would have been pulled out and given to the hiring manager. If the manager wanted an update on the applications, someone would have to physically go to that filing cabinet to have a look and then go back to update the manager, Wood says.
“Now, the managers can do it themselves via the system. Within HR, we are much better able to monitor and improve our service,” he says. “That is not necessarily a benefit of the cloud-based solution – it’s just a benefit of having a streamlined process and a system that supports that.”
While the university wanted an online recruitment solution, it wasn’t a requirement that the system be cloud-based, but all of the responses to the RFP were, he says. The team did a lot of research into going with a cloud vendor – including reading up on the US Patriot Act, says Sturgeon – and decided that as long as the system met the university’s requirements, cloud-based was acceptable.
The university has also seen some benefits in its candidate pool size, he says.
“Candidates can register an interest even if there isn’t a specific role available right now. We are then able to search that candidate pool and send them notifications of jobs when they do arrive. The recruitment team has benefited from that.”
The next step is to be able to generate an offer letter to successful candidates via the system.
The overall HR system at the university is made up of products from a number of vendors. Therefore, integration between systems is top of the list for the organisation, says Wood. The key system, besides Taleo, is the HR payroll system Alesco from Talent2.
“We often see integration as being a challenge but we were really happy with the integration toolset that Oracle Taleo provided – it was one of the reasons we picked that system,” Wood says.
One “rather frustrating” challenge, however, is how the system deals with time zones, says Wood. This turned out to be problem when generating job offers – dependent on what time of the day in New Zealand the offer was raised, the start date could be out by a day, he says.
“If you did an offer in the afternoon it would be the right time zone but if you did the offer in the morning it would appear to be wrong,” he say.
This can be a trap for users new to software as a service, he says. He would advise any other organisations considering a cloud-based solution to check up on how the system handles time zones.
“Something as simple as an audit trail showing the date in a US time zone can make life difficult when you are trying to work out what is going on in the back end of a system.”
Taleo has worked with the university to fix this issue, he adds.
Another challenge has been around deploying the breadth of functionality across the different types of recruitment, he says. Recruiting for academic roles is a different process compared to recruiting support and administration staff. And that is very different again from hiring someone to work as a barrista in the university union, he says.
Spectrum Care, an independent charitable trust that provides services for children, young people and adults with intellectual disabilities and autism, went live with a payroll solution from Honey Software in June.
Spectrum Care’s services include 24-hour support for people living in residential homes in Auckland and the Waikato region, respite care for adults in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and respite care for children in Auckland.