HR becomes an enterprise leader through digitisation, The Salvation Army

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The Salvation Army experienced four years’ worth of technology transformation in just months during the early days of the COVID lockdown, and this came on top of a major consolidation of more than two dozen different HR systems.

The result is a digitised HR capability created by deploying the Workday human capital management system – a process that transformed the relationship between HR and the leadership team, according to the organisation’s chief Human Resources Officer, Penny Lovett.

Lovett talks about the ramifications in a video case study (watch it at the start of this article), which is part of iTnews Digital Nation, our series exploring the digital fitness of Australian organisations.

According to Lovett, the Salvos had at least 26 HR systems at play that were run using traditional “on premise” platforms, as well as relying on spreadsheets and notebooks for data collection.

What was a messy, costly and difficult system for data extraction was transformed by collaboration between the HR and IT functions in deploying the SaaS based HR management system.

“We saw at The Salvation Army about four years of technology being deployed in the space of months,” says Lovett.

“Now having moved to software-as-a-service, we're not as reliant on IT to actually manage the systems, but rather to ensure that the infrastructure that we're implementing aligns really nicely across the organisation and integrates really effectively with other systems across The Salvation Army.”

Lovett says that the system was designed in order to bring various functions of the organisation together to enable shared insights and extract information around how key players work most effectively together – from customer experience to employee experience, to financials. 

The second key measure was to understand the needs of HR’s internal customers.

“All of our colleagues on the executive team are ultimately customers of HR,” says Lovett.

“So ensuring that we were implementing something that met their needs, both short and long term, was really important.”

Lovett describes the digitisation of HR as formative in its role as an “enterprise leader”, heightening the role of the function and shifting it from purely delivering expertise, to being an influential leader across the entire organisation.

“The implementation of sophisticated technology, with good integrations to other systems, has meant that we've been able to, I think, scale HR really significantly and to focus away from the transaction, much more towards insights and using data and provision of information and really, quality, across the organisation.”

Lovett explains the accountability that has come as a result of digital transformation, providing management with the tools to drive efficiency and increase their capabilities – but also increasing the need to prioritise the employee experience.

“I think that has really empowered the line manager. And it has given them an incredible array of tools at their fingertips. But with that has also come, I think, a need to ensure that you're managing that challenge and that capability really effectively.”

“Employee experience has always been really important, because if you get it right with your people, they will get it right with your customers. And that leads to the delivering of your organisational objectives.”

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