E-HR: Suitably informed

About the organisation

House of Fraser, founded in 1849, is a leading high-street retailer, employing more than 157,000 people across 46 stores.

The aim

To implement an HR management system, designed to be the frontline platform for all HR systems within House of Fraser. The overriding objective was to provide accurate and timely management information, including key performance measures, across the organisation.

System supplier

House of Fraser has a long-standing relationship with Oracle, which previously installed a data warehousing service.

The approach

A phased approach was taken. The initial implementation of the HRMS involved the transfer of core personnel data for more than 157,000 staff.
“We didn’t carry out business process re-engineering, but took the system and fitted it to how the business worked,” says Ian Waller, finance and HR systems manager at House of Fraser.

The system had to be able to facilitate the move to self-service in the future, integrate with the House of Fraser website so that job applications could be handled seamlessly, and become the front end for other employee systems.

The solution

Deployed in all 46 UK stores, the HRMS system went live in 2001 – on time, and under budget. Phases two and three saw the addition of payroll and recruitment functions. Phase three included a self-service pilot.

The integrated system gave House of Fraser a comprehensive repository of data, and using Oracle’s business intelligence tool, Discoverer, the organisation is able to generate extensive management reports.

“It [the data] can be defined exactly as we want it for the purposes of management reporting,” explains Waller. “You can add new business rules and custom configure the system. Time and attendance information is also entered into it. Data is standard and consistent, enabling managers to report more effectively and accurately on what is happening in the business.”

In August 2004, House of Fraser went live with the Oracle iRecruitment module and quickly gained more than 600 registered users.
“What’s important about the system is that it provides us with a seamless process from recruitment through to hire,” says Waller. “This allows us to reduce administration and shorten our recruitment cycle times.”

The bottom line

Oracle HR has reduced the administration cost of running the HR function, which has allowed it to focus on providing higher value, strategic services. The retailer’s 2001-2002 annual report after phase one credited HR with having run more training programmes and completed more training hours than ever before, resulting in a record number of internal promotions, a 5% reduction in staff turnover and improved customer service ratings.

The management reporting facility is widely used by HR, says Waller. “The HR department is now better placed to offer business-critical advice that benefits the entire organisation,” he says.

Gadget of the month Navman iCN510 Euro Premium Edition

What is it? A portable navigation system that clips onto your windshield. Type your destination on the 3.5-inch colour touch screen, and you’ll be directed by clear, turn-by-turn voice instructions and maps.

What will it let me do? Find that new European office with ease (the European edition covers 16 countries), plan multi-stop routes, or reach the nearest fuel stop before you grind to a halt on the hard shoulder.

How much does it cost?  Around £499

Where can i find out more? Visit www.navman-europe.com

Health & safety executive www.hse.gov.uk

An obvious but important bookmark, the HSE website offers useful downloadable documents, FAQs, and access to experts.

International institute of risk and safety management www.iirsm.org

Online arm of the organisation that aims to advance professional standards in accident prevention and occupational health. Membership includes access to the Safety Information Service, manned by health and safety professionals.

Institute of occupational safety health www.iosh.co.uk

Represents 27,000 members worldwide and has lively forums. You can also download a risk management toolkit.

Ergonomics www.ergonomics.org.uk

Information from the society formed in 1949.

Research snapshot Broadband internet

The UK has the most extensive broadband market of all the G7 countries, with six million people now subscribing to the service, according to a report by Ovum-Hedra for the DTI. Broadband is now available to 96% of households in the UK – good news for organisations that want staff to take advantage of remote working or e-learning.

“As broadband internet access becomes cheaper and more accessible, increasing numbers of organisations are looking at streaming audio and video as a viable option,” says Adrian Snook, operations director of the Training Foundation. “Some are seeking an alternate delivery mechanism for conventional training resources previously delivered via cassette, CD or DVD.”

Broadband-related comparisons can be downloaded from www.dti.gov.uk/industries/telecoms/broadband.html


British American Tobacco has selected HRM Software’s HRM Connect Pay Review to manage its annual pay review processes. It will initially use the web application to manage information for its 1,500 UK staff before rolling it out internationally.


Tonbridge and Malling Housing Association, along with its subsidiary Invicta Lifeline, is implementing PayGlobal single database software to streamline its HR, payroll and time and attendance processes.


Derby College is implementing the integrated HR and payroll system, Trent, from Midland HR & Payroll Solutions. The contract is worth 107,000 and will create a single-point automated solution.


Top resource: Information Commissioner’s Office

It won’t make the top 10 fun websites of all time, but it is one we’re all well advised to keep bookmarked.

Some areas are lacking information, but it’s well designed and accessible.

Find out how you can join the ICO publication scheme – a complete guide to the information routinely published by the commissioner – at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

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