The philosophy behind Egg’s shift to a totally digital solution for its HR
systems was a simple one: why shouldn’t HR be run like the business is run –
"We deliver our customers’ statements online so why not deliver our
employees’ payslips electronically too?" says Caroline Black, head of HR
systems at the digital financial services company, which provides banking,
insurance, investments, mortgages and a shopping portal through its website.
"We wanted an HR strategy that matched the business strategy."
When Egg launched in October 1998, it had 100 employees, which quickly grew
to 2,000, based in London, Dudley and Derby. By 2000, Egg knew that a traditional
HR infrastructure could not service the needs of a young, digital company with
a fluid workforce and global ambitions.
"It was a case of recruit, recruit, recruit in the early days,"
says Black, whose own background is a mixture of compensation and benefits and
IT. "Our HR systems were provided by a third party but we knew the way
forward lay in a pure internet solution that enabled us to deploy to everyone
via the web."
While most e-HR systems are now web-based, Black says Egg’s research showed
that not all were what they claimed to be. "There was a degree of smoke
and mirrors with some systems and this is why you need IT involved right from
the start. HR can’t be expected to have this sort of expertise. You need to
know you have the right systems infrastructure to meet increasing
A project team was set up and given six months to revolutionise the way HR
operated at Egg. An invitation to tender was sent out and PeopleSoft was appointed
to undertake ‘project enabling’.
"PeopleSoft 8 Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions comprehensively
matched our set of requirements and has strength in all applications across the
HR spectrum," explains Black.
PeopleSoft 8 was implemented to bring a portal concept to Egg that would
enable employees and managers to go to the same place for all their HR
information and to carry out all people transactions. Branded ‘Buzz’, it also
holds all Egg policies and procedures and the staff handbook.
A self-service HR facility went online a month later because HR wanted to
road test it thoroughly itself first. To date, the portal has handled 80,000
transactions since its introduction. "We’re a 24/7, 365-day company – so
is Buzz," says Black.
Implementation was completed in the six-month period but some customisation had
to take place. This was mainly due to a slight ‘disconnection’ between HR and
the original scoping exercise, recalls Black, who explained they had expected
the self-service facility on the system to commit information to the database
as soon as an employee inputs it. "Instead it would send a message to HR
with the information. This wasn’t what we wanted so we commissioned a
customisation programme to change it."
Egg undertook an examination to predict reactions to the system and found
there were unlikely to be any tangible objections because the system made life
easier for HR and the workforce – it reduced administration and streamlined
processes, freeing up more time for focused face-to-face time with employees.
"We knew we might get an emotional reaction from some people," she
says. But, objections didn’t last long and Egg had a simple and clearcut
defence of the system already in place.
The future for Egg’s e-HR system lies in maximising the benefits of data
warehousing, whereby data collected from the PeopleSoft system can be used for
a multitude of purposes.
"The system lets us measure people information in all sorts of ways,
but we want to integrate and measure financial and revenue-related info next,
and really see how things affect the bottom line," says Black.