Connecting employees on the same system can be difficult—it needs to be accessible by all and easy to use. The same system also needs to help HR manage processes and all employee-related data. This can be difficult for many organisations due to the scale of work involved, and can become even more challenging when the company needs a system accessible by mobile.
That was the major HR challenge for the Singapore-based airline Scoot according to Theresa Tan, vice president, Human Resources.
“Most of our workforce doesn’t even come into the office once a month. With the irregular work hours of the cabin crew, the challenge for us is to find a system that we can use to keep them engaged, and through which they can access necessary company processes, such as absence management applications. We’re not like most companies—the usual systems just don’t support our business model,” Tan says.
And the challenges grow as the business keeps evolving. Keith Ng, head of People Operations and IR, Human Resources, at Scoot, says, “It wasn’t just an HR system that we needed. We needed something that also had the flexibility to cater to our growth and evolving business processes, and the challenges that come with that.”
We always try to improve ourselves when it comes to automation. And we feel very supported by Workday because they update their applications every six months with new features that can better benefit us.
Head of People Operations - Asia Pacific
The search for a future-proof HR system.
Established by Singapore Airlines in 2011, Scoot is the low-cost subsidiary airline for medium- and long-haul routes. It started out with fewer than 1,000 employees in Singapore, and today has approximately 2,200 employees across 6 locations in the Asia-Pacific region.
As a start-up, the company did not have a legacy system; instead, it used a simple system more for financial purposes than HR that only allowed the company to store basic HR information and employee data. “A lot of the other processes, such as performance or talent reviews, still needed to be done manually through Excel spreadsheets,” Ng says.
Constant growth within the business and head count led Scoot to search for another, more viable system it could use. Self-service and digitisation were at the top of its priorities to empower employees to find information, apply for leave or time off, or manage their own expense claims without going through a third party—and all with a click of a button.
“We believe empowerment is very important, so we wanted a system with a self-service feature,” says Tan. “With a mobile workforce, it is not easy for us to connect with staff directly, so having all information and processes easily accessible to them is our priority.”
Ng adds, “Going digital releases us from asset management processes—whichever system we use has to be cloud-based. The interface and information can then be accessed by employees virtually anywhere too, whilst providing a high degree of security.”
Making sense for the business.
After almost two months of searching, the Scoot team finally decided on the Workday system in 2013 and has not looked back.
“We met with many vendors when we began our search for a single system,” says Tan. “Some of the main contenders with Workday had significant cost advantages. But what made the difference for us was the fact that our business processes and needs are unique to most organisations, and the customisations offered by Workday would’ve otherwise cost us much more.”
Multiple features, multiple benefits.
After the customisation barrier was cleared, Workday proved to be exactly what Scoot needed.
Says Ng, “The cloud-based system for Human Capital Management applications meet our self-service needs and allow us the flexibility to manage changes within them. They also offer a high level of configuration that enables end users to manipulate and change processes as per their preferences.
“There are also many features that we can build in and access through a single sign-in for our employees. Now, they can access applications for time off, absence and compensation under one suite, which is a major benefit for us and them. Transitioning to Workday has also allowed our employees to more productively utilise their time at work,” Ng says.
And employees are happy with the system, vouch Ng and Tan. This appreciation for an easy-to-use system became even more apparent when Tiger Airways employees joined Scoot following a merger in 2016.
“The Tiger Airways employees love the new system. They like the user interface, and how easily they can navigate the system to find information,” Ng says.
But it is not just the employees that benefit; managers do too. Workday HCM enables them to do real-time reporting and generate reports on their own using the system’s dashboards, or conduct analyses for predictive reporting.
Workday Talent Management enables managers to simplify all the reports and assessments for performance reviews and succession planning. “I had to do all these in Excel before, but now I can see everything on a single screen just by dragging and dropping. That’s what made us decide to move to Workday,” says Ng.
“As an HR practitioner, this is the best system for us to manage our talent in the organisation, regardless of where we are in the whole region,” says Tan.
A positively enhancing partnership.
Deploying Workday HCM and Expenses at the same time did not take long or require a lot of downtime. It only took about three months. As well, deployment was collaborative within the Scoot team, which learned through the process how to execute and maintain the system going forward.
“For higher levels of enhancement, we still require Workday’s help, and they are very prompt. But for minor changes or anything else within our knowledge, our team now has the expertise to take care of that,” says Ng. “We also regularly share our feedback on performance of the applications with Workday, and how these might be further enhanced to better support our business processes.”
Workday also caters to its customer’s unique business needs. Scoot has FlexiCredits—flexible allowances for its staff—but there was no available application that could be used to track this at the start of the Scoot-Workday partnership. However, Workday was able to combine Workday Expenses and Workday Compensation to work around its limitations.
“The modified Workday Compensation application for Scoot now has a reimbursement compensation element that works similarly to our previous FlexiCredit solution. Workday didn’t have anything for this before, so we’re grateful for the effort they made,” Tan says.
Workday also helped Scoot when it was in bind with the merit process functionality. Scoot missed some details in the release notes from an update with the system, resulting in technical issues and it could not release salary increments to employees. Scoot escalated the troubleshooting via the standard customer support channels, but the time-zone differences in remote support locations meant resolving these issues could take a while.
Enter the committed Workday service team. “Thanks to the family spirit at Workday, their account managers, consultants and trainers began jumping in to help, even though it wasn’t their duty to,” says Tan. “We were able to solve this pretty quickly, so we got the increments out to our employees without much delay.”
Scoot is currently adding Workday Recruiting to its system. Workday did not previously have an application that could be used as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), but now the application has been upgraded with the functionality that can now support the complexity of Scoot’s processes. The application allows HR managers to transfer personal data for potential applicants as they move through the hiring process, greatly simplifying their admin tasks.
“Workday has the same mind-set and direction as we do. We’ve recently even discussed chatbots as a potential feature, and found out that it was currently being worked on as well. Chatbots are still relatively new in the industry; we will review theirs and evaluate if we can use it soon,” says Ng.
A partner that grows with you.
With the coming financial year, Scoot is looking to have an aggressive enhancement within Workday, and it foresees that Workday will be able to support the company in increasing the efficiency of its workforce. “Not that we’re planning to cut employee numbers, but rather through the system making each employee’s role more efficient than before,” says Tan.
Workday applications evolve with the speed of business, presenting new opportunities for Scoot. “We always try to improve ourselves when it comes to automation,” says Ng. “It’s an ongoing process. And we feel very supported by Workday because they update their applications every six months with new features that can better benefit us.”
“We also like the fact that Workday is very realistic—telling us from the start that we should be flexible, because not all work processes might be able to be configured in the Workday system,” says Tan. “And they’re also honest in telling us whether their applications can support our business requirements. They are a real partner—not just selling their system per se, but constantly looking to see how they can support our business growth.”