Personnel Today Awards 2004

This award recognises the effective use of technology by HR teams to bring about business benefits. Entries needed to explain what changes have been implemented and why they were necessary. They also needed to demonstrate the impact technology has had on helping to achieve strategic objectives.

Category judge: John Steele

Having worked for three major international organisations, John is now pursuing a portfolio of non-executive roles, using his extensive business and HR experience gained both in the UK and worldwide. He has also worked with government institutions in the UK and for the European Union.

Category sponsor: Snowdrop Systems

Snowdrop Systems delivers highly scaleable HR and payroll software worldwide. A fresh approach to systems implementation and support plus a reputation for creativity has fuelled Snowdrop’s rapid growth and a 95 per cent client retention rate is testament to its commitment to long-term business relationships. Snowdrop is 22nd in the 50-250 employee category in the UK’s Best Companies to Work For 2004.

Shortlisted teams


The team: Shell People Services – Attraction and Recruitment

No. in team: 3

No. in HR function: 2,700 globally

No. of employees HR is responsible for: 119,000 globally

About the organisation

Shell is a global group of energy and petrochemical companies and operates in more than 145 countries. It refuels 20,000 aircraft at 800 airports every day and serves 25 million customers a day. Shell’s careers website is the most visited in the group.

What the organisation did

Spent £80,000 developing a web-based ‘advert creation tool’.

– This was created to ensure Shell is less dependent on external suppliers and to allow HR teams to manage the company brand consistently across 145 countries

– The tool works by the recruiter selecting an appropriate material type for their market, such as text only adverts, image adverts or ready-made materials such as brochures.  Once the user has customised the ad, the system creates a low-resolution proof automatically. When this is approved, a high-resolution file is produced for printers, publishers and design houses.

Benefits and achievements

The system yielded up to 75 per cent cost savings by enabling Shell staff to bypass expensive agency typesetting

– Reduced advertising lead times from 10 days to around five minutes, allowing recruiters to respond quickly to market conditions

– Created a standard global ordering service, cutting costs and ensuring consistency, and one common fulfilment process, so staff in any market can pre-order recruitment material quickly

– Accessible 24-hours-a-day.

John Steele says:

“A fast and widespread implementation across 145 markets globally led to significant functionality improvements, round-the-clock availability, good inter-functional teamworking, very significant cost savings and consistent brand management.”


The team: HR systems

No. in team: 12

No. in HR function: 63

No. of employees HR is responsible for: 16,000

About the organisation

Bupa is a global healthcare organisation, serving more than 7.5 million customers in nearly 190 countries. It is a provident association, which means that any surplus the organisation makes is re-invested in improving the quality and breadth of services.

What the organisation did

Upgraded PeopleSoft HR system to an online version, including a module enabling employees to update their personal data and view compensation history and training records

– Managers using the PeopleConnect module can view job data on their employees and submit and approve transactions, according to pre-defined business rules

– Another module, HR Charter, is available to all staff and provides organisational charts online

– Managers can search HR Charter for sensitive data on their team, enabling them to compare salaries, review headcount or look at the length of service across the same level of jobs.

Benefits and achievements

Financial savings expected to be in excess of £1.5m

– Early indications show headcount has reduced in generalist HR areas with further savings expected from central HR

– Automatic interfaces from PeopleSoft HR to other company systems have produced savings by removing duplicate administration

– The implementation of the system allowed HR to concentrate on strategic initiatives, as line managers can find information for themselves.

John Steele says:

“With good overall positioning within the general leadership team, the project led to radical change in the HR delivery capability and significant cost savings. The company achieved its major goal of a better focus on the strategic needs of the business.”


The team: Learning and Development team

No. in team: 2

No. in HR: 205

No. of employees HR is responsible for: 8,000

About the organisation

Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) works with the essentials of life – food, air, land, water, people, animals and plants. Its remit is the pursuit of sustainable development, addressing economic, social and environmental concerns.

What the organisation did

Developed an online ‘leaders and managers toolkit’, available via computer to its 15,000 staff, with web technology specialist

– Organised into three strategic areas covering 13 topics of working at Defra, the toolkit offers an overview, exercises, handouts and diagnostic tests for teams and individuals

– Used by training co-ordinators and learning and development advisers when considering learning needs

Benefits and achievements

So far, 1,000 Defra staff have used the toolkit and a further 500 have seen it in use during learning events

– Latest staff survey shows increased satisfaction with learning and development opportunities

– Workforce is more skilled and motivated, benefiting stakeholders and the public

– Learning and development advisers have resources at their fingertips

– Staff able to learn new skills outside work remit and discuss learning needs in confidence.

John Steele says:

“The project had a positive impact on individuals and the organisation’s learning and development needs. It has the flexibility to cater for different learning styles and work patterns, a good impact on productivity and attitudes, and the performance and culture of the organisation. It also encouraged individuals to be accountable for their own development needs.”

Jaguar & Landrover UK

The team: Jaguar and Land Rover Academy

No. in team: 7

No. in HR (Academy) function: 6

No. of employees HR (Academy) is responsible for: 9,000

About the organisation

Jaguar and Land Rover, owned by the Ford Motor Company, designs, develops and manufactures premium automotive products. The company, which has a network of 230 franchises across the UK, employs around 20,000 staff. It also operates four manufacturing plants.

What the organisation did

– Spent £80,000 creating a web-based generic HR and people management guide, dubbed ‘People Solutions’, for dealership managers

– People Solutions is available to managers via the dealer communication site. It includes nine core sections, covering all HR topics and has a search engine

– Originated after research revealed a widespread lack of confidence and capability in dealing with everyday HR issues. Half of the dealerships had no easy access to HR support and few of the 900 managers felt they had the correct level of people management skills.

Benefits and achievements

– Improved dealer managers’ ability to access and extract relevant information for more informed decision-making

– Set HR standards and encouraged a consistent approach to people management

– Reduced the dealer network’s reliance on outsourced specialists and a culture of paying severance to remove the problem

– Encouraged managers to carry out checks on their current policies and practices

– Significant increase of employees attending management development courses.

John  Steele says:

“Dealing with diverse experience and ability levels across a large customer base, the company created confidence and capability with a comprehensive, attractive real-time programme that is easy to use. Overall it was a well managed project that will lead to greater HR awareness and impact.”


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