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Bringing Together a Global Workforce in the Cloud

Guest Author

Written By Chris Maurio, Associate Director, Oracle Consulting, Cognizant

How do you get tens of thousands of employees in dozens of countries to work together and operate as a single team? It’s no simple task, but when you put everybody on a single cloud platform – and execute the transformation skillfully – I would suggest it’s more than doable. I know this because I’ve been part of many great transformations at the digital consulting firm Cognizant. At Cognizant, our HCM practice helps many global clients design and implement ambitious (often multi-pillar), enterprise-wide transformations.

Large, global companies today are increasingly looking for an HCM solution that  embraces mobile capabilities, provides advanced business intelligence, and has the flexibility to adapt as a company grows and changes. Like many large organizations these days, the clients we work with are facing growing challenges when it comes to managing their global workforce. For example, complying with legal and regulatory requirements along with identifying and developing top talent.

This is especially true of those organizations that are operating with an aging patchwork of locally-run HR systems. It’s not uncommon to hear each geographical region is using separate HR systems (often on-premises systems) or that a particular business unit representing a recent corporate acquisition has never been fully integrated into its global parent from an HR perspective. Many of the on-premises solutions we see are highly customized and in many cases have been built and expanded upon over 20 plus years, resulting in a large number of integrations.

Chief among the challenges associated with a fragmented HR landscape is the fact that it is difficult (if not impossible) for executives to quickly pull together a global view of their workforce and get accurate readings on basic metrics such as the total cost of an employee. The goal with a global HR cloud transformation is to retire the disparate HR systems and collapse them into a single system of record with modern, cloud-based capabilities, including sophisticated reporting options.

Working toward a common solution

When facilitating a global HR transformation, it’s critical to secure early buy-in from each region’s leaders and to work together to design and achieve a common solution that will harmonize the company’s workforce across its global operations. Our team quickly gets to work on developing a thorough understanding of the client’s current HR processes in order to identify ways we can standardize and align the business to best practices by leveraging functionality built into the cloud solution. In order to gain a clear understanding of the current HR processes globally, Cognizant, along with the client’s corporate representatives, often visits local HR representatives to gather information and feedback on their current operations, make recommendations concerning best practices, and secure buy-in for the upcoming transformation.

During these sessions, it is imperative to be sensitive to the unique work environments and cultures of each geography, where HR operations may have been running independently for decades. In the end, this collaborative process yields a solution design that everyone feels comfortable with. The last thing we want is for the transformation initiative to be a mandate from headquarters that “This is how it’s going to be, and you better fall in line.”

Our implementations incorporate numerous best practices available in Oracle HCM Cloud, including smart rules for managing approvals for HR changes, processing new hires, and adjusting salaries. Creating global standards simplify our clients’ global HR operations immensely and make updating the application with each quarterly release that much easier.

Global Flexibility

I’m often asked how much legwork a customer should tackle in preparation for its cloud implementation. If a client has not done so already, defining common work structures throughout the organization, such as grades and jobs is highly recommended. Having globally defined structures allows companies to easily compare jobs and define business rules. (For example, all staff in grade EX-01 or higher are eligible for equity compensation awards.) Ensuring this standardization helps an organization establish leading talent management processes, including having defined career tracks and managing succession planning.

Oracle’s cloud platform is flexible enough to allow for differences in workforce practices and local laws in each country the client operates in. The product supports over 200 countries through country extensions and configuration, including system translations, compliance reporting and ensuring compliance with local compensation rules. For instance, Oracle HCM Cloud allows for the fact that in the Netherlands workers are entitled to 8% holiday pay, and in several countries in Latin America, workers are traditionally paid a 13- or 14-month salary. All of these details are configurable through the worker’s salary basis.

When there’s a gap in talent, leading companies often shift employees from one region to another. Being able to intelligently match business needs and workers’ existing skills allow for complex global transfers to be performed while ensuring that the entire compensation package is properly accounted for.

Client Success

Having reliable data was a key business driver for a client of ours who recently implemented Oracle HCM Cloud. Today, at the click of a button, managers and executives at the company can analyze turnover trends by country or region, understand the full cost of employees anywhere in the world, or track the progress of global bonus programs. These are just some of the many benefits of implementing a global HR system. Workforce data that used to take months to compile, can now be done in mere minutes. And employees and managers are now doing more HR tasks on their own using online self-service tools, boosting efficiency. By our estimates, the number of HR interactions have been cut in half.

In addition, the company is capturing cost savings as a result of decommissioning hundreds of HR and payroll systems around the globe and reducing the number of third-party vendors tied to local systems.

Moreover, with access to more data at a global level, the company as a whole became more agile, compliant and strategic. For example, executives can now design and run workforce modeling exercises to help optimize organizational structures and quickly deploy talent and skills to where they’re needed most. Having a single-source-of-truth platform also helped tighten data privacy policies and improve data security globally. And by consistently tracking and refining compensation plans, the company can increase the retention of key leadership roles and save on workforce turnover and replacement costs.

Looking back on this project, I continue to be amazed at the sheer number of systems, cultures and languages that we integrated on a single platform. Not surprisingly, we ran into some resistance from people who were accustomed to doing things a certain way for decades and liked it that way. But by the end of the journey, I was even more impressed by how many people had turned from being “objectors” to becoming some of the most vocal advocates of the globally unified HCM cloud platform.

Want to learn more about our experience leading global Oracle HCM Cloud implementations? Then please join me at the upcoming Modern Business Experience conference in Las Vegas

About the author:

Chris Maurio, Associate Director, Oracle Consulting, Cognizant

Chris Maurio is an HCM subject matter expert and consulting leader with extensive experience selling and delivering up-market, global implementation projects. He has a proven track record of translating client business goals into compelling, profitable and realistic solutions resulting in true business transformation. Chris is an expert in solution architecture across multi-pillar implementations and migration of antiquated and disparate systems to Cloud technology. He is a trusted advisor and strategic partner to client leadership and a regular presenter at various industry-related conferences.

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