The importance of getting your personnel data aligned


When personnel data is misaligned, organisational progress can stagnate. That’s why this seasoned HR leader jumped on an opportunity to clarify her organisation’s approach.

As a project officer, volunteer program coordinator and, now, People and Culture Business Partner for the same organisation, Suzanne Larsson CPHR became all too familiar with juggling multiple spreadsheets. These were what the HR department at Stroke Foundation used to store most of their personnel data.

“By the time I started in the role as P&C Business Partner in August 2021, every other area of the organisation had implemented technological solutions,” she says. “But we had multiple different sources of spreadsheets for everything from exit interviews to contracts to personal details.”

This outdated process was “cumbersome and disjointed”, she says. 

“It introduced the possibility for more errors, and resulted in lots of time wasted.” 

Not only that, but there wasn’t a single source of truth where the four-member HR team could access personnel data or complete a task with ease.

“When recruiting, for example, we would have to contact every member of the panel individually to discuss the applications. Now they can access a secure central portal. Our pre-screen and onboarding functions were also burdensome. 

“We had multiple sources of information on different spreadsheets because our workforce is a combination of paid employees [about 100] and volunteers [about 220]. 

“HR metrics were manually calculated and there were bits of information everywhere.”

So when an HRIS (Human Resources Information System) was finally green-lighted after being in the pipeline for two years, Larsson couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.

Being the subject matter expert and leader of the project formed the basis of a great capstone project to achieve HR certification via the AHRI Practising Certification Program, she says.   

“The foundation needed someone to take the lead, although the implementation was a real team effort with the P&C team and also members of the working group who tested the new system.

“It was amazing to go through this experience and build on my skills as a strong influencer and negotiator, as well as develop my conflict resolution skills, which are valuable for certification.

“It also opened up my networks to other not-for-profits with similar workforce configurations.”

Implementing a new HRIS for enhanced personnel data collection

Replacing the outdated personnel data collection system was an investment that aligned with the foundation’s ‘Empowering, Supporting, Connecting strategy 2024′. 

“A new HRIS would provide instant information and increased oversight of organisational structure and planning, talent management, performance management, learning and development, recruitment, onboarding, offboarding, HR metrics and employee data,” says Larsson.      

“No more guesswork. Just data-driven human capital decisions.

An early challenge was choosing a software system that would not only deliver on those broader base promises, but also assist with specific needs, such as including the volunteer workforce. 

Also, the HR team wanted to be able to generate data on diversity metrics; something that is useful when volunteers or staff are communicating the foundation’s messages to different communities.

Keen to be inclusive, Larsson conducted pre-choice surveys of what employees liked in an HR system, while management mulled over six options. 

“Talking to as many people as you can, and getting advice on how to implement and streamline processes, is crucial,” – Suzanne Larsson CPHR

“Talking to other non-profits about what software had fulfilled their requirements was also really helpful. But in the end, it came down not only to what the system could deliver and how user-friendly it was, but to our budget.”     

An HRIS that seamlessly integrates with Office 365 and SharePoint, and provides instant HR metrics and Power BI reports, was chosen.     

That’s when Larsson’s work really ramped up and she had to bring her persuasive powers into play. 

“I had to tap into the side of me that brings people on board in a positive way by making sure all levels of staff understood why we were making changes, and using all of my negotiating skills.” 

She organised for the software provider to demonstrate the HRIS to the executive directors and conducted her own sessions explaining what the foundation would gain from the system. 

Larsson also addressed employee concerns about cybersecurity, and how personnel data would be collected and stored.

“Being able to deal with these challenges increased my ability as a culture and change leader and, in turn, as a trusted P&C business partner,” she says.

Key takeaway lessons 

When it came to training the foundation’s staff in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Hobart on the new HRIS, Larsson made a decision that she would take the show on the road. 

“It really helps to know the personalities of your people,” she says. “Ours are energetic, fun and creative, but they also include those who are talented with technology and those who have only a baseline understanding. I knew in-person training, backed up with training manuals they could refer back to later, was the way to go.”

Just as crucial to implementing the new system was choosing a working group of six employees based on role, location, IT acumen and management of employees or volunteers to user-test the HRIS and provide feedback. 

But no plan is perfect, and even with extensive user experience testing from the working group and P&C team, issues were discovered.

“These included incorrect email addresses, incorrect organisational structure and [the platform provider] making changes to the system while training was being conducted, which meant the training guides looked slightly different to what was currently being trained. All these required problem-solving both in-house and by [the provider’s] experts.”

Other unpredictable obstacles included additional costs for IT-related items that needed to be added into the system, and team members taking personal leave which impacted the project timeline.      

Larsson says a key lesson was ensuring that all parties involved understood their role and what was required of them, as well as when they would be needed for their expertise and how much time would be required.

How to get employee buy-in 

Another key takeaway was the value of consultation. 

“Talking to as many people as you can, and getting advice on how to implement and streamline processes, is crucial,” says Larsson. 

“It’s also important to think about how your workforce best responds to change.”

In the early stages of the implementation, employee engagement was lower than Larsson had anticipated, with only 15 per cent of paid employees engaging in the initial communications relating to the project. 

“This did concern me, but it also made me determined to find a solution. I decided to offer ‘sneak peeks’ of how the HRIS was going, including videos, project timeframes, information about training and the team behind the project. 

“We also ran an employee competition to name the HRIS that attracted a lot of interest. It finally resulted in the name ‘Connexa’, which means bringing information and people together, and at this point employee engagement had increased to 81 per cent.

The goal was to bring people along on the journey and get them excited about the end result. And it worked.” 

This article was originally published in the August-September 2023 edition of HRM Magazine.


Learn how to take a systematic, data-driven approach to organisational design that will help achieve role clarity, effective collaboration and a positive culture with AHRI’s short course.


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Natalie Sutton
Natalie Sutton
9 months ago

I’d love to know what system was chosen?

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The importance of getting your personnel data aligned


When personnel data is misaligned, organisational progress can stagnate. That’s why this seasoned HR leader jumped on an opportunity to clarify her organisation’s approach.

As a project officer, volunteer program coordinator and, now, People and Culture Business Partner for the same organisation, Suzanne Larsson CPHR became all too familiar with juggling multiple spreadsheets. These were what the HR department at Stroke Foundation used to store most of their personnel data.

“By the time I started in the role as P&C Business Partner in August 2021, every other area of the organisation had implemented technological solutions,” she says. “But we had multiple different sources of spreadsheets for everything from exit interviews to contracts to personal details.”

This outdated process was “cumbersome and disjointed”, she says. 

“It introduced the possibility for more errors, and resulted in lots of time wasted.” 

Not only that, but there wasn’t a single source of truth where the four-member HR team could access personnel data or complete a task with ease.

“When recruiting, for example, we would have to contact every member of the panel individually to discuss the applications. Now they can access a secure central portal. Our pre-screen and onboarding functions were also burdensome. 

“We had multiple sources of information on different spreadsheets because our workforce is a combination of paid employees [about 100] and volunteers [about 220]. 

“HR metrics were manually calculated and there were bits of information everywhere.”

So when an HRIS (Human Resources Information System) was finally green-lighted after being in the pipeline for two years, Larsson couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.

Being the subject matter expert and leader of the project formed the basis of a great capstone project to achieve HR certification via the AHRI Practising Certification Program, she says.   

“The foundation needed someone to take the lead, although the implementation was a real team effort with the P&C team and also members of the working group who tested the new system.

“It was amazing to go through this experience and build on my skills as a strong influencer and negotiator, as well as develop my conflict resolution skills, which are valuable for certification.

“It also opened up my networks to other not-for-profits with similar workforce configurations.”

Implementing a new HRIS for enhanced personnel data collection

Replacing the outdated personnel data collection system was an investment that aligned with the foundation’s ‘Empowering, Supporting, Connecting strategy 2024′. 

“A new HRIS would provide instant information and increased oversight of organisational structure and planning, talent management, performance management, learning and development, recruitment, onboarding, offboarding, HR metrics and employee data,” says Larsson.      

“No more guesswork. Just data-driven human capital decisions.

An early challenge was choosing a software system that would not only deliver on those broader base promises, but also assist with specific needs, such as including the volunteer workforce. 

Also, the HR team wanted to be able to generate data on diversity metrics; something that is useful when volunteers or staff are communicating the foundation’s messages to different communities.

Keen to be inclusive, Larsson conducted pre-choice surveys of what employees liked in an HR system, while management mulled over six options. 

“Talking to as many people as you can, and getting advice on how to implement and streamline processes, is crucial,” – Suzanne Larsson CPHR

“Talking to other non-profits about what software had fulfilled their requirements was also really helpful. But in the end, it came down not only to what the system could deliver and how user-friendly it was, but to our budget.”     

An HRIS that seamlessly integrates with Office 365 and SharePoint, and provides instant HR metrics and Power BI reports, was chosen.     

That’s when Larsson’s work really ramped up and she had to bring her persuasive powers into play. 

“I had to tap into the side of me that brings people on board in a positive way by making sure all levels of staff understood why we were making changes, and using all of my negotiating skills.” 

She organised for the software provider to demonstrate the HRIS to the executive directors and conducted her own sessions explaining what the foundation would gain from the system. 

Larsson also addressed employee concerns about cybersecurity, and how personnel data would be collected and stored.

“Being able to deal with these challenges increased my ability as a culture and change leader and, in turn, as a trusted P&C business partner,” she says.

Key takeaway lessons 

When it came to training the foundation’s staff in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Hobart on the new HRIS, Larsson made a decision that she would take the show on the road. 

“It really helps to know the personalities of your people,” she says. “Ours are energetic, fun and creative, but they also include those who are talented with technology and those who have only a baseline understanding. I knew in-person training, backed up with training manuals they could refer back to later, was the way to go.”

Just as crucial to implementing the new system was choosing a working group of six employees based on role, location, IT acumen and management of employees or volunteers to user-test the HRIS and provide feedback. 

But no plan is perfect, and even with extensive user experience testing from the working group and P&C team, issues were discovered.

“These included incorrect email addresses, incorrect organisational structure and [the platform provider] making changes to the system while training was being conducted, which meant the training guides looked slightly different to what was currently being trained. All these required problem-solving both in-house and by [the provider’s] experts.”

Other unpredictable obstacles included additional costs for IT-related items that needed to be added into the system, and team members taking personal leave which impacted the project timeline.      

Larsson says a key lesson was ensuring that all parties involved understood their role and what was required of them, as well as when they would be needed for their expertise and how much time would be required.

How to get employee buy-in 

Another key takeaway was the value of consultation. 

“Talking to as many people as you can, and getting advice on how to implement and streamline processes, is crucial,” says Larsson. 

“It’s also important to think about how your workforce best responds to change.”

In the early stages of the implementation, employee engagement was lower than Larsson had anticipated, with only 15 per cent of paid employees engaging in the initial communications relating to the project. 

“This did concern me, but it also made me determined to find a solution. I decided to offer ‘sneak peeks’ of how the HRIS was going, including videos, project timeframes, information about training and the team behind the project. 

“We also ran an employee competition to name the HRIS that attracted a lot of interest. It finally resulted in the name ‘Connexa’, which means bringing information and people together, and at this point employee engagement had increased to 81 per cent.

The goal was to bring people along on the journey and get them excited about the end result. And it worked.” 

This article was originally published in the August-September 2023 edition of HRM Magazine.


Learn how to take a systematic, data-driven approach to organisational design that will help achieve role clarity, effective collaboration and a positive culture with AHRI’s short course.


Subscribe to receive comments
Notify me of
guest

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
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Natalie Sutton
Natalie Sutton
9 months ago

I’d love to know what system was chosen?

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.
More on HRM