Macquarie University is undergoing a human resources system transformation with the help of Accenture, moving to a new Workday platform and offering more self-service capabilities.
People and services VP Nicole Gower told Workday’s Elevate summit last month the university’s “HR system” until now was made up of “patchwork” of smaller systems, though much of the complexity was shielded from users.
“When people talk about ‘the HR system’, they don’t realise that they’re actually talking about multiple systems,” Gower said.
“We don’t actually have one HR system. We have a payroll system, we have a talent and recruitment management system, we had multiple timekeeping systems, we’ve had learning management systems – and that patchwork approach created some real challenges for us.
“There were lots of manual workarounds, quite a lot of duplication, a lot of double entry, and that was causing some real challenges for the HR team, but also for the university.
“We didn’t see the level of integration or cohesion that we would have liked.”
Alongside better integration, Gower said the existing environment had capability gaps, particularly in areas such as talent management and workforce planning, that the university hoped to now address.
“We’ve always wanted to be able to do [these] really well but haven’t always had the actual tools or support mechanisms to be able to,” she said.
Gower said that despite the backend challenges, the university’s HR service delivery model – that is, what users saw – “is actually quite mature and is very well respected across the university.”
“We’ve got great HR advice, we’ve got great HR strategic services, and we’ve got high levels of credibility across the university, so we’re starting from a really good platform,” she said.
“Although we have really good service delivery, what people don’t see is all the work that goes on behind the scenes.
“There’s a lot of manual work and a lot of workarounds to make things actually work well and to deliver a good service to our employees.
“What we’re trying to do is make that a lot smoother, use technology to be able to automate some of that, and provide more of that in a self-service format.”
The desire to transform led Macquarie University to consolidate HR onto Workday, with Accenture brought in to assist.
Chief information officer Tim Hume saw full transformation of the IT platform as necessary.
“Transformation isn’t just incremental change. It’s not about doing a version upgrade,” he said.
“We could have done that. We could have done a number of changes to existing platforms.
“Transformation means making a change which will probably apply a bit of tension to the business, but [that will] move us towards a space that might have taken years otherwise, and going with Workday will help us get there.”
Gower said that implementing Workday came with a commitment to continuously improve the technology underpinning HR.
Having all of HR run out of one system will also lead to a consolidation of the university’s ‘people data’, which can then be used in more “data-informed decision-making”.
“The heart of our business is people. If we understand that, if we get the data we need, we can succeed against our competition,” Hume said.
“That’s what Macquarie is known for. We’re small enough to be agile and this is designed to make us agile.”