Computers In Personnel Award for HR Collaboration

In Personnel is a UK
company that provides visionary HR software solutions. The software is highly
flexible and covers personnel, recruitment, training administration, skills
matching, payroll and employee and manager self service. The software and
support services enable a more efficient, strategic approach to HR within your

Category judge: John Smythe

Smythe is organisational fellow at McKinsey and
company. He is currently researching approaches to engaging leaders and
employees in strategy and transformation. Smythe was
also chief executive of SmytheDorwardLambert,
specialists in internal communication. Prior to that, he held senior public
affairs posts with US corporates.

Yorkshire Water

The team: HR Department

No. in team: 3

No. in HR function: 28

No. of employees HR is responsible for:

About the organisation

Water is a water utility company and provides 1.7 million households and 140,000
businesses with water and sewerage services. Each day the company supplies
around 1.24 billion litres of drinking water as well
as safely returning around one billion litres of
waste water back in to the environment. Last year, the company made £175.5m

What the organisation did

Extended opening hours for customers, as a part of a project launched in 2001
to provide exceptional customer service

Since 2001, there have been two phases to this project. The first involved
field technicians and the second involved plant engineers

For the field teams, employee representatives, trade unions and operational
managers were involved in designing new ways of working

Terms and conditions harmonised, cutting down on

For phase two, plant engineers were organised into
bigger, more flexible teams. Numbers reduced from 126 to 98. Working patterns
were extended to cover seven days rather than five.

Benefits and achievements

Improved customer-service through extended opening times

Annual cost savings of £500,000

Project led by operational director Richard Flint,
with each member of the project team taking ownership for their part of the
project. A strong sense of teamwork is ongoing with regular review meetings.

John Smythe says:
“A previous experience of poor industrial relations over pay caused the change
team to adopt a ‘line led, open and inclusive
approach’ to the challenges of changing rosters to allow seven-day customer
service and multi-site working to improve efficiency. The old model of HR
leading negotiations with unions often led to adversarial situations. The
measures were introduced with everyone’s backing.”


The team: Group Functions HR

No. in team: 15

No. in HR function: 80

No. of employees HR is responsible for:

About the organisation

22 million customers, HBOS is the UK’s
largest mortgage and savings provider. It is also a major provider of current
accounts and credit cards. Each year, the company puts more than £45m back into
the community through the HBOS Foundation, sponsorships, affinity cards and its
social banking programme. Its profits for the six
months to June were £2.2bn.

What the organisation did

Merger of Halifax and Bank of Scotland in September 2001 enabled the organisation to review its IT operations and to create a
single IT function

Moved two outsourced Royal Bank of Scotland IT services into HBOS. This
involved ‘TUPE-ing’ more than 750 workers

Reorganised the IT functions to create the single Group Technology function. This
affected 2,500 people. The restructure involved selecting people for 1,800 roles

Set up an overall project team including, the project sponsors, the group
functions HR team and the transition team

Overcame cultural differences with a range of initiatives, including
question-time sessions and focus groups.

Benefits and achievements

Successful implementation of a single Group Technology function

Substantial financial savings have been made

The creation of an HBOS Group Technology culture, which reflects the values of
both the new organisation and the diverse workforce
created from both transitions.

John Smythe says:
“The merger of Bank of Scotland and Halifax required the creation of a single
IT function comprising 2,500 people. It needed to create a common technology
platform while also in-sourcing staff from two suppliers and reducing the
number of jobs to 1,800. A difficult transition was achieved and a new
operating culture created.”


The team: Pension review project team

No. in team: 5

No. in HR function: 135, in the UK

No. of employees HR is responsible for: 14,500

About the organisation

Services is one of the leading IT services companies in Europe,
the Middle East and Africa.
It has an annual turnover of £1.74bn, employs 14,500 people and operates in
more than 20 countries. It designs, builds and operates IT systems and services
for customers in the financial services, telecom, retail, utilities and
government markets.

What the organisation did

 – A pension fund deficit meant the company had
to look at ways of retaining a defined benefit scheme without incurring
increased costs and affecting profitability

Set up a UK Pensions Consultation Forum (UKPCF) to consult with employees on
the future shape of the plan

Representatives elected via Electoral Reform Services using internet voting

Open consultation with employee representatives

Extensive use of technology to aid the consultation process including

Benefits and achievements

Change in the normal pension date from 60 to 65

UKPCF said the proposals ‘achieve a fair balance between acceptability to
members and affordability to the company’

To date, more than 95 per cent of members have signed up. The deadline is March

John Smythe says:
“The firm was faced with spiralling costs of
maintaining a final salary pension scheme, but was all too aware of the
potential for an industrial relations controversy if solving the problem went
awry. Fujitsu chose to ‘share the problem with its employees’ rather than adopt
the more traditional route of determining a solution and communicating it. In
so doing, it set an agenda for discussions with ‘no preconceived outcome’,
other than that the status quo was unsustainable. This experiment in governed
democracy paid off. Or as the project director put it: “We chose to open our
kimono.” The scheme was retained at lower cost.

The Automobile Association

The team:  Human Resources

No. in team: 5

No. in HR function: 38

No. of employees HR is responsible for:

About the organisation

AA, an £800m turnover motoring organisation, provides
breakdown and insurance cover, loans, tyre
replacement and garage services, as well as a wide range of other products and
services to more than 15 million customers. Its website is a motoring, travel
and leisure portal; its many publications include maps, and accommodation and
restaurant guides. Part of the Centrica group of
companies, the AA is the UK’s
leading independent voice of the motorist.

What the organisation did

Evidence showed that existing performance management systems were inconsistent
and failed to encourage and reward competencies linked to higher customer
satisfaction and increased profitability

Launched Project Horizon, a performance management system to measure
individuals’ contribution to the business

Horizon links the actions of the individual through the business plan to
shareholder expectation. It identifies patrols with development needs and
tracks their progress. It also identifies and rewards patrols that exceed

Provides ongoing interpretation of management information from the Horizon
system through the Patrol Contribution Review.

Benefits and achievements

For the first time, the AA is able to quantify the value each individual makes

Absence cut from 1.34 days per patrol to 0.82 days

In the initial pilot, 180 patrols out of 3,000 were performing below the
minimum standard. By the end of the year, 6 per cent of the 180 had improved saving £3m.

John Smythe says:
“Evidence showed that existing HR systems were failing ‘to encourage and
reward’ competencies in the on-road teams linked to customer satisfaction and
profitability. The Horizon system provided a database process to drive a
behaviour-based ‘improve or remove’ approach to performance. It was implemented

award recognises effort by the HR team in working together with other functions
as a business partner achieving strategic goals in a seamless way. Specific
projects demonstrate how HR has effectively integrated and co-operated with IT,
sales, marketing, finance, production and other parts of the organisations.









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