A venerable technology company with its roots deep in the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley, Fairchild has always been very good at looking to the future. And when it was time to jettison its outdated HR systems, that's what Fairchild did.
Facing a tangle of spreadsheets, workarounds, and shadow systems to serve its 9,000 employees, Fairchild knew it was time for a change. Not only did the antiquated HR systems fail to keep up with the company's growing demands, they prevented the HR team from moving toward a more strategic role in the company.
It's not business as usual with Fairchild's HR team. At the time of the evaluation, 70 percent of the group was either new to Fairchild or new to HR, with an emphasis on leading through influence rather than enforcing rigid HR policies. If the group wanted to be a strategic partner to the business, it needed to eliminate the inefficiencies that were taking valuable time from the staff. HR also needed to provide real visibility to managers about their employees.
The company identified nine key HR processes where it aimed to be best-in-class: staffing, compensation, benefits, employee relations, training and development, technologist training and development, succession planning and leadership, performance management, and compensation committee support.
"We need to be very good at all of them, all the time, and need to be able to perform exceptionally on-demand at any one of them at any given time," said Kevin London, senior vice president of worldwide human resources at Fairchild.
With its goal in mind, Fairchild began to look critically at its HR systems infrastructure.
Deployed on an on-premise HCM solution from a large vendor for the past eight years, the company had added various custom applications and bolt-on third-party solutions, resulting in a highly customized, patchwork deployment. The existing system was not only difficult to use, but restrictive. "Nobody used it except the analysts and a handful of other people," London said.
Managers and executives were burdened with manual processes. For example, an 8,500-row Microsoft Excel® spreadsheet was used to manage the compensation process each year—a procedure that was not only inefficient and error-prone but also far from secure.
This was not the infrastructure that would move Fairchild's HR team to its goal.
Fairchild was already using several software-as–a-service (SaaS) applications and thought the approach was a natural one for the transactional aspects of HR management. So, as Fairchild began to narrow its list of options, Workday began to stand out. The brightest light? Implementation that would take one-third the time of on premise alternatives. (The implementation actually took eight months, compared with an estimated two years for traditional solutions.)
And when Fairchild studied the financial benefits of Workday, they estimated they would achieve a positive ROI in only one-third the time it would take for an on premise option.
Beyond the financial and speed-to-value benefits, Fairchild saw that Workday would enable managers to have the real-time data about their employees at their fingertips. With compensation and position details easily accessible, employees had what they needed to really inform their decision-making. Workday's ease of use and streamlined, ongoing update process would help smooth the way to adoption of continuous innovation.
In addition, Workday offered the ability to deliver a holistic solution that would also provide an employee system-of-record for the company.
Finally, Fairchild saw that Workday would increase its ability to attract, develop, and retain top talent. "We've basically acquired our technologists in the past from the outside," says London. Workday's succession planning capabilities are expected to help improve employee development and create visibility into employee "readiness" worldwide.
But there was one more element to their decision to choose Workday.
"In the Human Resources arena, traditionally there has been no such thing as a standard integration," according to Paul Lones, senior vice president for information technology at Fairchild. "Every benefit provider, every payroll service provider has required a custom integration."
As a visionary company in the SaaS arena, Workday, like Fairchild, is always looking for ways to provide additional value to customers. Since integration of on-premise applications and third-party services is a key challenge of an HR implementation, Workday developed an innovative approach: a cloud-based integration platform that allows customers to build and deploy custom integrations in the Workday cloud. Fairchild recognized they could take advantage of this open platform as an integral part of their HR implementation.
"Our approach to overall enterprise architecture is changing," Lones said. "Companies like ours are moving from a monolithic internal application orientation to one that's more of a hybrid model, where we want to really take advantage of the new capabilities and the quicker pace of development and deployment that SaaS providers offer."
Integrations are a critical part of this new approach because they can increase with the number of applications that are needed to support a company's business requirements.
"Businesses like ours require far more than APIs to simplify and improve enterprise integration. Workday recognizes this and has taken a leadership position by providing customers with critical access to its core technology," Lones continued.
"Since Workday opened its integration platform to customers, we have already successfully built 28 custom integrations to and from Workday and have the capability to maintain these or create additional integrations as our ecosystem evolves," he said.
For example, Fairchild has used the integration platform and the Workday payroll interface to build integrations to local payroll providers around the world. Fairchild is now able to significantly reduce the time and cost of going live, confidently paying all of its workers around the globe.
Together, Workday and Fairchild are thinking about the cloud in a whole new way. By combining rapid deployment, rapid ROI, and especially a new approach to integration, Workday is helping Fairchild achieve its goals of world-class HR and next-generation IT.
"We view it as a partnership," said Lones. "There's an active community of clients and users who are sharing information about everything from the somewhat technical to the very business process-oriented experiences that all of us have had. And that's a very different experience."
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