by Alan Joch
2016 is shaping up to be a big year for Mexico’s housing market. A number of forces are coming together to spur a housing boom, including a stabilizing general economy and Mexico’s relatively young population. The country’s median age of 28 is often a prime time for starting families and becoming first-time home buyers.
Location: Monterrey, Mexico
Industry: Residential construction
Revenue: US$343 million in 2015
Oracle products: Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud, Oracle Talent Acquisition Cloud, Oracle Taleo Onboarding Cloud Service, Oracle Taleo Goals Management Cloud Service, Oracle TBE Performance Management Cloud Service, Oracle Taleo Succession Planning Cloud Service, Oracle Taleo Learn Cloud Service, Oracle Hyperion Planning, Oracle E-Business Suite, Siebel Customer Relationship Management
Juan Angel Montalvo
Length of tenure: Five years
Education: Bachelor’s in information technology, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León; MBA, Universidad de Monterrey; attended the Innovative CIO Program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business
Personal mantra: “If you don’t know, learn. If you already know, apply. If you know and have applied, improve.”
Few businesses are poised to serve this burgeoning market and reap its financial rewards as well as Casas Javer, a 35-year-old construction company that sells about 20,000 houses a year and is considered one of the highest-volume builders in the country.
But in most boom markets, success isn’t guaranteed—and Mexico’s complex housing-construction sector is no exception. “We develop the land, design a project plan, assemble the right people, comply with government regulations, and at the end of the day we must create houses that buyers will find attractive,” says Casas Javer CIO Juan Angel Montalvo. “That can be very challenging.”
Finding and retaining the right talent is especially important for Javer’s ongoing success, and as a result leaders in the IT and human resources (HR) departments joined forces to modernize the company’s HR systems, a project that will be completed in time to support 2016’s growth trends. The cornerstone of the effort is Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud (Oracle HCM Cloud) and related Oracle Cloud applications for talent acquisition, onboarding, performance management, compensation, succession planning, and e-learning.
“Human capital represents an invaluable resource and a competitive advantage,” says Fernando Lozano, director of human resources at Casas Javer. “The right mix of human capital directly contributes to the success we achieve as a company and enables increased productivity and competitiveness in our market.”
But as significant as the HR modernization project is in its own right, Montalvo and Lozano see an even larger role for the project. In their view, it’s part of a fundamental, cloud-fueled reimagining of enterprise technology and how the IT and HR departments can best work together.
“It’s very important for technology leaders to understand the business requirements of the companies they work for,” Montalvo says. “IT people need to provide new ideas for supporting changing business models. Because of that we need to work very closely with the CFO, the COO, and the CMO to provide value for our stakeholders.”Upbeat Forecast
Mexico’s housing upturn is getting significant financial backing from the government. Lending by Mexico’s Institute of the National Housing Fund for Workers (INFONAVIT), which targets low-income home buyers and represents the bulk of the domestic mortgage market, jumped 30 percent in the first half of 2015, according to research by Scotiabank.
Human capital represents an invaluable resource and a competitive advantage. The right mix of human capital directly contributes to the success we achieve as a company and enables increased productivity and competitiveness in our market.”–Fernando Lozano, Director of Human Resources, Casas Javer
In response to what they saw as a large affordable housing gap in the country last year, government leaders committed enough funds to spur the construction of half a million homes and boosted other housing subsidies by nearly one-third, to 11.1 billion pesos.
A seller’s market puts new pressure on the construction industry, which for years has relied more on traditional ways of doing business than on technology innovation, Montalvo says.
That’s changing because young home buyers expect builders to tailor houses to their particular desires, whether that’s prewiring homes for internet access or providing unique configurations for living areas. “Flexibility is very important for these customers, so if someone needs more space than what the original design calls for, we can provide different options via our web page,” Montalvo says.
To stay competitive in a dynamic market, Montalvo and Lozano developed their program for modernizing processes for identifying, attracting, cultivating, and retaining top talent. “Our talent management processes ensure we have the best employees to meet the needs of each business unit,” says Montalvo. “To continue the company’s success we must ensure that management processes are simple and functional for the rest of the organization.”
But efficiently managing a workforce as large and diverse as Javer’s is challenging. The company employs approximately 1,900 people, ranging from architects, engineers, and financial accounting people to skilled tradespeople who work at construction sites. In all, the workforce represents more than 260 different types of jobs, with highly varied wage structures.
In addition to full-time employees, Javer also relies on contratistas, onsite construction workers hired by an outside employment firm. Another consideration is the size of Javer’s geographical market—it needs skilled construction workers from across seven Mexican states and Mexico City. The projects themselves are varied, ranging from entry-level houses to units for middle-income buyers and expensive luxury homes.
The common thread that determines the success of each project is the ability to manage all the people required to see a project through from beginning to end.
Together, Montalvo, Lozano, and their staffs evaluated a number of solutions to help Javer successfully manage its workforce now and in the years ahead. They started with clear goals in mind: shorten the recruitment and selection time needed to attract top talent, retain top performers with attractive compensation policies, streamline the employee review process, and better forecast how human capital needs will grow and change in the years ahead. The ultimate goal is to automate all of Javer’s core HR processes within a single platform. This will not only enable the HR staff to work more efficiently with familiar user interfaces and integrated workflows; centralization will also consolidate data from once-separate systems to give senior executives a complete overview of the workforce to help them accurately predict future staffing needs and monitor how closely performance aligns with Casas’ companywide financial goals.
This close partnership between the IT and HR departments was a departure from even the recent past, when the IT staff simply delivered hardware and software to meet specific resource needs voiced by HR managers—rather than working closely with them on an ongoing basis to develop an overall technology strategy.
After considering several solutions, including one offering from a Mexican company, the two groups agreed on Oracle HCM Cloud as their core talent management platform. They valued the system's ability to integrate and exchange data between various talent-management processes, including recruiting, onboarding, performance reviews, and succession planning. Another plus: Javer was already using Oracle Hyperion Planning for workforce planning, as well as Oracle E-Business Suite for financial management and other back-office activities. By combining these applications with Oracle HCM Cloud, the company could use a common data model across all platforms for smooth information-sharing between applications and departments.A Range of Benefits
Oracle HCM Cloud is already having a positive impact on Javer’s operations. “We have launched mobile applications that the HR department can use for personnel administration,” says Jessica Ayala, an HR administrator at Casas Javer. “Moreover, the processes for recruiting, candidate selection, e-learning, and performance assessments now take advantage of the latest innovations.”
One concrete example of the changes is a new self-service portal available to employees throughout the company. Accessible via mobile devices as well as desktop computers, the HR staff can view and update employee personal information, track an individual’s progress in meeting development objectives, and enter status changes, such as a manager-requested salary increase.
Onboarding is also improved. “Once someone agrees to work here, the application also accelerates the hiring process,” Lozano says. “In the past, it could take a month and a half to bring new people onboard. Now, we can do it in about 15 days. That’s important when we have an immediate need for a project to quickly bring people into the company.”Casas Javer
|Number of houses Casas Javer builds each year in Mexico|
|Number of architects, engineers, financial accounting staff, and skilled tradespeople employed by Casas Javer|
|Typical number of days it now takes to onboard new employees—down from 42|
Javer executives also expect the new application will improve performance reviews. “Oracle HCM Cloud has one of the best methodologies for mapping talent with functional needs,” says Carlos Vasquez, Javer’s organization and compensation manager. “We can log in to periodically review the performance and skills development of key personnel, as well as the risks we’d face if we were to lose a high performer. This helps us identify the key people that we would most like to retain.”
The Javer staff is preparing to use the solution for the first time for annual evaluations, which are scheduled for early 2016. But the foundation of the process is already in place. Each year, Javer’s CEO sets companywide financial goals, which business managers then translate into short- and long-term objectives for individuals on their staffs. These goals form the basis for how job performance is evaluated and help managers determine who’s earned bonuses and promotions. “The data shows us when we need to promote individuals to give them a new challenge and take on other responsibilities,” says Vasquez.
Similarly, Oracle HCM Cloud gives Javer managers new resources for improving professional development and succession planning. “We work with every employee to establish a career path, and then invest in training and any special skill development each person may need,” Lozano says.
One example of this is sales force training. HR leaders want to make training consistent and readily available via web-delivered modules that salespeople can access with their mobile devices. Javer made content available at the end of 2015 and management expects the new information will help the staff close more sales in less time. “Sales consultants have daily study guides and videos for each module, all delivered by the Oracle platform,” says Lozano. “Periodic evaluations determine when representatives achieve certification in the Javer sales processes. This attractive e-learning platform is a perfect tool for linking educational content and evaluations of the sales force.”
With personalized attention like this, even average performers in various departments get the training and skill development they need to enhance their career potential. “That’s very important in terms of promoting loyalty to the company,” Lozano adds. “It’s very important that our workers feel loyal and remain happy here, because the training and time we devote to career development is very expensive.”A New Way of Working
Javer’s HR modernization project truly came together when the IT and HR departments made it a joint effort. “We work in coordination with the IT area to define business processes and seek the best technology that matches our needs,” Lozano says. “In this initiative, both departments provided a project manager to make sure we were focused on the most effective technology and the most innovative trends in managing human capital.”
Montalvo and Lozano agree that teamwork pays off. “We learned that by working together we can achieve better results than when the two groups don’t closely collaborate,” he explains. “It’s an especially important lesson for those of us in IT to remember our role is to provide services and act in partnership with other areas in our company.”
This strategy will carry over into departments beyond HR. “The modern role of the CIO is to guide and push for innovation that adds value to the company,” Montalvo says. “The key is for us to not push technology. Instead, we start with a big idea with the potential to add value, and after that, we find the best technology for that particular project.”
Photography by Shutterstock