Managing massive technological change requires help from staff and vendors


Amid a pandemic and a five-year transformation of its Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS), John Soule Foods decided to migrate two payroll systems to a single cloud-based platform. With the right help, said Sherry Allen, senior account manager for the company, such a big change can be made – even if the company hires hundreds more and opens new branches.

John Soule Foods offers ready-to-cook, fully-cooked beef and chicken products in retail outlets, food outlets, restaurants and school nutrition programs.

When Allen joined the company in 2016, 500 employees were enrolled in two payroll systems. The company used Sage Software’s Abra Suite payroll platform at its Tyler, TX operation, but payroll got complicated when it acquired Gainesville, Ga.-Based ProView Foods in 2014, which was using ADP’s payroll system.

As the company expanded its operations (it now has 1,200 employees), the decision was made in 2016 to update its HRIS system and migrate to the Infor Global Human Resources (GHR) application suite, which is based on Amazon’s cloud platform web services. based.

Executives at John Soule Foods have bet that a hosted cloud-based platform will open up their isolated systems to provide more insight into their HR operations and improve collaboration between business units.

Infor’s GHR has integrated applications for talent management, employee performance, and HR case management, including work order monitoring and behavioral profiling.

GHR applications also use analytics software to assess employee performance and assess future employee and business needs. In 2020, payroll features were added to support back-end payroll processes, such as: B. payroll tax recording, payroll payment, wage garnishment, and payroll garnishment. other services.

“When we bought the GHR platform in 2016, Infor was not ready to add the payroll module. We were on two different systems and were trying to migrate those systems with a more robust product that would help us as the businesses grew, ”Allen said.

In order to migrate the two systems to Infor’s GHR payroll module, Allen and the company’s HR managers had to make several important decisions. Initially, the company decided that its small IT team of five would not participate in the migration project, not only because they lacked skills, but also because the company wanted to protect sensitive data.

“We thought we wanted to make our payroll and HR information more secure. We didn’t want so many people involved and being able to see this data within the company, ”Allen said.

She added that the company’s finance and HR teams wanted the expertise of a third-party company with the skills to set up the payroll system. Such an arrangement would allow the internal IT team to focus on the day-to-day IT operations of the business.

To do this, John Soule selected Foods of Bails and Associates, a Canonsburg, PA-based company that implements and maintains Infor’s human capital management (HCM) applications for clients.

For the payroll project, Bails helped clean up the system and upload it with employee details such as bank account numbers, pay codes, deduction codes, and W2 information.

Migrating data from legacy systems to the cloud always takes time, said Ron Hanscome, vice president of research at Gartner, whose areas of coverage include the HCM application market, including HCM cloud suites.

Vendors like Infor and their competitors who offer cloud-based human resource management systems like Workday, Oracle, and SAP need to be aware of these differences and be able to reconcile them.

In this case, says Hanscome, Abra’s old payroll system is likely to be a much bigger problem because it has different data structures than Infor’s cloud-based system.

“With different data structures, you have to normalize the data, figure out where it needs to go, and then normalize it in the new data model, and that always requires a few different tests to identify errors and inconsistencies. You make your last cut from the old system to the new one, and then hopefully all the major bugs will be fixed, ”said Hanscome.

Allen found the job required more than what the company’s small IT team could handle.

“The bonds helped us get started,” she said. “Now they only help us if we can’t fix an IT problem on our own. Also, we didn’t want Bails to have the cost of hiring new IT staff, using them and specializing them for the things we need, and then letting us manage the payroll system on a daily basis once the system is up. commissioned. ”

The project started in October 2020 and lasted three months. The first checks were distributed in the first week of January 2021.

By eliminating the task of adding, reconciling and maintaining data in two systems, the company is better prepared to add 500 employees to its payroll system as it builds its new facility in Valley, Alabama, said Allen.

Additionally, Allen estimates that the new payroll app would take a third of the time it would take to process employee payments.

“Now that payroll takes less time to process, payroll coordinators have more time to convey critical information to management and other stakeholders,” she said. “This is one of the best things about the GHR payroll system. ”

Nicole Lewis is a Miami-based freelance journalist.

[Want to learn more about HR technology? Join us at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Sept. 9-12 in Las Vegas and virtually.]

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