Tracy Bargielski, Yamaha Corporation of America
Because of her masterful understanding of both HR and systems, the deployment of UltiPro progressed smoothly and she completed the activation of UltiPro on time and on budget. However, not long after a successful deployment and a promotion to the head of the human resources division as the new general manager, Tracy experienced an unexpected medical emergency, requiring immediate surgery followed by a long recovery period, several trips to the hospital and yet another surgery.
Despite all this, Tracy persevered and continued to work, travel for business, and take action to help Yamaha experience more benefits as a result of UltiPro. Today, Tracy is healthy and has beaten her medical problems. Even though Yamaha is best known for delivering its products to many of the world’s best-known musicians, the company has its own rock star leading the HR team.
“I think it’s important to stay positive and stay productive when confronted with that kind of life changing occurrence,” said Bargielski. “It’s not about what you are given, but how you deal with it.”
Because of her strength and hard work, the entire Yamaha workforce is benefiting from improved collaboration, visibility, and automation with UltiPro. And Tracy is using the time she has gained to develop programs to support the revenue-generating operations of the company.
After rolling out UltiPro, Yamaha immediately improved the accuracy of reports and saved substantial time across the HR division, and this team is now focusing its energy on new value-added projects that contribute to Yamaha’s core business. For example, because of the time savings with UltiPro, Bargielski’s team is collaborating with the sales division to support company’s dealers in an effort to help our customers more effectively recruit, motivate, and retain their employees.
“To help us grow our business, we wanted to offer services to our dealers that set Yamaha apart from others in our industry. HR can now support our revenue generators,” said Bargielski. “If UltiPro hadn’t provided us with so many ways to save time, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver the added value to our business.”
In addition to this, the human resources division won the Spirit Award for 2011 at the end of April. This was awarded by the management of the sales divisions and is awarded “in recognition and appreciation of the outstanding leadership, focus and support of the Employees of Yamaha Corporation of America.” It is not only the first time that human resources has won this award, but also the first time any administration division has won.
Bargielski believes UltiPro has helped drive the transition from being perceived as a cost center to a value-driver. “We’re now more results-oriented and future-oriented rather than being process-oriented, and our employees and managers can now feel more ownership because they have instant access to their information. Our actions have allowed us to become better connected to the company’s overall objectives, and can help HR to be viewed as a strategic business division and not just a center for administration. We’re only able to do this because of UltiPro. With all HR and payroll information in one place and the use of business intelligence tools, we are able to gain visibility, clarity and insight into the organization's data assets to help us understand how our people and the business are performing. This easily provides information to senior management, empowering them to make more informed workforce decisions.”
We congratulate Tracy for being a real HR hero.
Cathie Hollowell, General Growth Properties
Only a few weeks following her promotion into this role, the company announced that it was undergoing significant reorganization. During the months that followed, Hollowell completely re-engineered the structure and goals of her team to maximize efficiencies and, at the same time, support employees and managers during a time of transition and uncertainty.
According to Hollowell, the key was to design a flexible HR formation with a simple focus toward “getting back to basics,” such as providing business intelligence information to executives for quick and critical decision-making.
“If HR wants to be a true business partner, then HR needs to be flexible. Since 1999, UltiPro has helped my team to activate and leverage cutting-edge HR technologies. When the climate in our industry and our business changed, UltiPro’s reporting allowed us to function as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said Hollowell.
“My team has had to completely transform the way we interact with employees, modify our goals, and elevate the way we do business at General Growth, and Ultimate Software was very supportive of our situation and played a central role in making all these achievements possible.”
Vieanna Austin, Safran USA, Inc. (SUSA)Safran USA, Inc.
In December 2009, SUSA was tasked with the project of deploying a shared services environment, so the Shared Services Team, located in Grand Prairie, Texas, would provide HR support, payroll, benefits administration, legal services, risk management, tax compliance, and other administrative services in order to strengthen SUSA’s operations in North America.
Vieanna Austin, HR director for Safran USA, and her teams took on the responsibility of converting all subsidiary payrolls into one unified payroll solution that would be managed with a single location: UltiPro.
The project was ambitious with a deadline of less than a year, but the SUSA teams and its affiliates were dedicated to completing the project on time. Vienna managed to keep her teams collaborative and engaged, even working with them on the smallest details.
During the deployment, many other projects were running simultaneously. The group completed six plan-to-plan transfers to merge several separate subsidiary retirement plans into SUSA’s retirement and savings account plan, benefit plans, as well as completed the transition of an acquired group (with 700+ employees) into UltiPro.
Under Vieanna’s expert leadership, the teams worked with an “all-for-one” attitude, and this camaraderie enabled the team to meet all 10 go-live dates by the specified deadline.
Additionally, the company simultaneously activated UltiPro Time Management, Salary Planning and Budgeting, and Benefits Open Enrollment and then collaborated with Ultimate’s support to configure integrations with third-party vendors that provide health and welfare services.
Successful completion of the coinciding projects has allowed SUSA to become a “one-stop shop” for all of its subsidiaries. At the beginning of the project, SUSA was administering payroll and benefits for 900 employees. Now SUSA is administering payroll and benefits for more than 4,000 employees.
This immense accomplishment received accolades from the Safran Group in Paris and, because of its tremendous success, the shared service model will now be rolled out globally. Congratulations to Vieanna and the HR/payroll team for setting the bar for strategic company initiatives!
Karen Miller, Susquehanna Bancshares
The bank chose Ultimate Software’s UltiPro to centralize its disparate HR and payroll systems after a series of corporate acquisitions over the years, and to further streamline its capabilities through onboarding and payment services. Today, those essential business processes are smoother than ever before. One key reason? The dedication of Karen Miller, Susquehanna’s administrator of human resources information systems.
With an unwavering focus on doing the right thing for both employees and the company, Karen is the linchpin of the HRIS team, relentlessly ensuring the accuracy of the data in Susquehanna’s UltiPro activation. Working quietly and diligently in the background with a keen sense of anticipation, Karen has become the company’s “data steward,” taking excellent care of her organization and driving key HR and payroll processes forward.
Karen’s willingness to go the extra mile and leave no stone unturned means her fellow bank employees have a greater sense of safety, comfort, and assurance that their payroll will be on time and on the mark – and that their sensitive personal information is carefully protected.
Thanks to her expertise in HR and data security issues, combined with her personal commitment to excellence, Karen Miller, this month’s HR Hero, is keeping Susquehanna Bancshares in good hands.
Melinda Curtis, Regional Women’s Health Group, LLC
However, the team has a firm belief that the success of these initiatives supports employee confidence in management and leadership, provides company stability, as well as creates a close, collaborative culture.
Recently, the HR department converted to an electronic-filing system for employee records and activated UltiPro in 2009 to enhance the company’s human capital management processes.
“UltiPro helps create high levels of employee satisfaction by saving time and minimizing errors as well as by providing our employees and managers with instant Web access to relevant personal HR information, which can be updated 24-7 and from any location,” said Curtis.
“This gives us much more time to focus on building our already robust benefits package, creating more programs for employee recognition, and developing strategic HR projects aimed at acquiring more talented employees.”
The HR department also believes that communication is the key to employee satisfaction. The company is leveraging its UltiPro home page to post company announcements, benefits details and resources, as well as the array of employee discounts and offers.
HR Manager Melinda Curtis explains, “We’re always looking to find ways to help our employees maximize their time and money—by offering discounts on everything from mobile phones to gym memberships to local amusement parks and water parks. UltiPro is our one convenient platform to communicate the numerous rewards that come with being an employee at Regional Women’s Health. And we believe that all of our efforts are creating a sense of trust, camaraderie, and unity throughout the company.” Melinda relayed a moving story that happened recently. “One of our employees lost everything she owned in a house fire. Everyone began asking what they could do—even those who didn’t know her. Employees began sending donations, so the company decided to match these donations. We were able to give her family more than $6,000 to help recover from the tragedy. This generosity among all of our employees is a beautiful demonstration that we really consider each other as part of a family and that we are a part of a very great place to work.”
Pam Fitch and Heidi McCoy, Westward Seafoods
And with a large team of seasonal and temporary workers spread out from the Bering Sea to the Gulf of Alaska, Westward Seafoods’ Pam Fitch and Heidi McCoy captained a fast-track UltiPro activation to streamline their company’s human capital management processes.
On October 1, Westward Seafoods simultaneously rolled out UltiPro for recruitment, onboarding, human resources, payroll and time and attendance — in a rapid 14 weeks.
Dedicated to keeping the ambitious project on track, Heidi and Pam were the only two Westward employees working on the activation; however, they never lost their focus on a final successful outcome, wavered from their commitment to the goals, or lost their sense of humor about their ambitious decision to go live with all four solution features at once.
When advised that the activation schedule was aggressive and that a phased approach might be easier, Pam and Heidi simply rolled up their sleeves and said, “No, we’re going to do it!”
With the simultaneous activation, Pam and Heidi enabled Westward Seafoods to immediately streamline what previously had been intensely manual hiring and payroll processes.
For instance, using talent acquisition and onboarding, Westward Seafoods’ HR team can now quickly hire large numbers of seasonal recruits for their processing plants. They literally make an offer to the candidate, and the new employee accepts the job and flies to Alaska that same day. Before new hires land in Alaska, they have been fully processed into UltiPro with their time sheets waiting for them.
Pam and Heidi also "wowed" their entire workforce, especially their managers, by rolling out UltiPro’s role-based access for employees and managers in tandem with the go-live. Previously, Westward employees never had the ability to view and update information. Now they can access this critical data from home or work, 24/7. The response from emplyees has been overwhelmingly positive.
What were Pam’s and Heidi’s reactions when it was all done? As they reflected on the past three and a half months, Pam said, "We'd do it the same way all over again!"
Congratulations to Pam and Heidi, our two latest HR Heroes!
Sudi Korba, PSAV
In 2009, PSAV's HR team reconstructed their HCM processes, and Korba has been selected as an HR Hero for her role in transforming her department using technology coupled with long-term vision.
With company values in mind that include personal empowerment and connectivity, Korba and her team evaluated several of their HR processes and modified these to accommodate how her team wanted to function in the future.
One of those changes involved moving the company's HR processes from a service bureau to UltiPro's one system of record. And in 2010, the HR team rolled out Web access for employees and managers, including performance management, to U.S.-based employees.
Adoption of the changes by PSAV's workforce has exceeded expectations. Later this year, they plan to extend the use of UltiPro to include the company's international workforce.
“We didn't want to duplicate what we have been doing. Instead we redefined how we wanted our processes to function in the future," said Korba. "Transitioning to a new solutions is not easy. My team rolled up their sleeves, did the work, and got it done on schedule and under budget.”
“UltiPro is contributing many value-added processes and efficiencies across our organization as we continue to roll out additional functionality, such as benefits enrollment and global access. By activating UltiPro and restructuring some key processes, our team made a dramatic change in less than one year, which I think is pretty amazing. This HR Hero award is for them.”
Jenny Surma, Chicago Cubs
The sale was completed almost 2.5 years later in a complex transaction. The protracted sales process included a parent company’s bankruptcy, a “perfunctory” team bankruptcy, an economic crisis across the U.S., and an extremely difficult financing environment.
HR Director Jenifer Surma led the Cubs’ human resources department through this marathon process.
While there are unique challenges in each divestiture of a business, the public nature and high visibility of the Cubs presented exceptional challenges. The sports organization dealt with rumors within its own walls as well as frequent, sometimes daily, media coverage.
“Usually we want to give employees enough information, but in our case we also needed to manage the barrage of external information. We also wanted to make sure our staff was getting accurate and timely information — all so we could stay ahead of the exaggerations and speculations that were around us.”
This was accomplished by putting out internal memos and emails from the Cubs’ CEO — a strategy designed to keep a step ahead of the media on important milestones and to remind staff not to believe everything that is published. HR wanted employees to be the first to know the important details and to not to be misguided by the media and bloggers.
During the process, all staff meetings were more frequent and the doors of management were open to employee concerns and uncertainties. To the extent information was known, it was shared with staff. Plus, all employee requests received a personal response from the HR department.
There were several suitors for the Cubs, and the organization could not contact the potential owners until exclusivity was established. In spite of this, the HR team knew the organization had to establish independent payroll, HRIS, and benefit programs. The HR team did its due diligence and selected UltiPro as the best solution because of its capabilities for multi-state taxation, experience with other sports clubs, and broad range of HCM functionality, including performance management and recruitment.
Because the Cubs were moving away from a large enterprise system, Surma planned for a six-month transitional period. However, she and her team ended up with 60 days at year end to activate UltiPro, roll out a new benefits package, and complete the company’s first open enrollment.
The HR and finance teams worked together nights and weekends to pull off an error-free payroll on January 1, 2010 and to enroll eligible staff in the company’s new benefits program.
Today, employees are settling into a great family ownership and enjoying enhanced benefits, and the finance and HR teams are happy with the choice of UltiPro as the HCM solution that is meeting the range of HR/payroll complexities for the Chicago Cubs.
Kathy Jones, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc.
The company decided to advance its HCM capabilities by activating state-of-the-art technologies to replace its previous systems, which included a customized AS400 solution and spreadsheets.
Kathy Jones, HRIS technologist for K-VA-T, worked diligently with her team to roll out the new solution and to transform the way the HR team, company leaders, and employees manage information and interact among each other.
After having educated employees and managers about how everyone would benefit from the change, Jones and her team are now helping K-VA-T management glean critical HR metrics using customized reporting available via UltiPro's business intelligence tools.
For tasks that previously required cumbersome paperwork, like associate reviews, supervisors now manage the processes online without contacting HR and without being constrained by office hours or time zones.
K-VAT associates can print their own payroll records, reprint W-2s, set up and change their direct deposit, change their benefits selections based on life events, and update their personal information using the UltiPro portal — a significant change in culture and processes for the company.
Today, tasks that used to take days now take only seconds and without any paper involved.
“I want to thank my team for helping me orchestrate this broad shift for K-VA-T,” said Jones. “Because our people have adopted UltiPro as the hub of their workforce activities, K-VA-T is reducing its carbon footprint, elevating and accelerating our HCM, and enabling HR and leadership to function more strategically and effectively. I think our hard work is benefiting everyone across our business.”
Bruce LePard, American National Insurance
When Hurricane Ike forced the evacuation of the city of Galveston, Texas and left many homes and businesses in turmoil, American National’s HR group showed its resolve in an emergency through determination, hard work, and much innovation as they worked from temporary facilities.
The goals were simple: account for all employees, provide deep support, and return to Galveston as soon as possible.
Working in close quarters akin to a submarine, Bruce’s team managed hotel room assignments, provided emergency cash services, coordinated services with counselors, fed employees, ran an employee contact center, and offered plenty of moral support.
Using UltiPro, the HR and payroll teams had all the necessary employee data, and they were able to pay employees without interruption, sometimes only by using a laptop in a motor home and a regular phone line.
In the end, the greatest accolades came when the HR Department was recognized as “a decided asset” by the board of directors during the company’s annual board meeting. Today, the company has re-grouped and is operating very successfully.
“It’s all about regarding our employees as our family,” said Bruce. “This organization truly is family-oriented, and when disaster hits, everyone pitches in because we all are affected.”
Here are some comments from American National’s associates regarding the HR team’s monumental efforts:
• “A hearty thank you to Bruce for making this a less stressful event. From handling payroll to lunch specials, the HR team was there for us.”
• “Bruce LePard and the HR staff have been at the forefront of recovery throughout this whole turmoil. They offered water, coffee, cheery faces in the morning, free lunches, and even tetanus shots.”
• “Not only did American National keep us on payroll, they offered loans and payroll advances if anyone needed this help.”
• “American National reassured me that the 'resource' in human resources meant we were united and would stand together. The HR Department under Mr. LePard kept us up to date and became a beacon of light. I could feel with certainty that our American National family was on its way to future recovery.”
Nancy Stefanowicz, NFI Industries, Inc.
Nancy Stefanowicz was hired as the new senior vice president of HR, with a mission to transform HR into a strategic part of the business and to deliver more efficiency as the organization.
Taking her team from less than 10 employees to now 30 employees, as well as serving 5,400 employees across the business, Nancy has achieved remarkable accomplishments, including:
- Spearheading initiatives to create and develop the company’s mission, vision, and values
- Rolling out UltiPro as the company's central HCM platform, including HR, payroll, benefits, recruitment, and self-service for managers and employees
- Deploying e-learning tools, positive leadership training, quarterly awards for employee recognition, and employee appreciation days
- Activating a new, competency-based performance management process for over 1,000 exempt and corporate non-exempt employees as well as leveraging online performance management to facilitate a completely paperless environment
- Creating hard- and soft-cost savings as a result of improved recruiting processes, reduced administrative headcount, and cuts in printing and distribution
- Establishing a three-year wellness strategy to improve overall health for employees
Today, Stefanowicz is a key business partner at NFI with a seat at the executive table, dedicated to ensuring HR is strategically aligned with the business.
Many congratulations to Stefanowicz for making her vision at NFI a reality and for elevating her team and their contributions to the company.
William Pokluda, Daymon Worldwide
Ultimately, Pokluda believes that happy employees are at the root of the company's success, he has remained dedicated to building a culture of empowerment, outside-the-box thinking, and self-sufficiency for Daymon’s 1,500 employees.
To facilitate the process, he managed the 'big bang' roll-out of UltiPro on January 4, 2010 — delivering a single HCM platform for payroll, HR, recruitment, employee self-service, manager self-service, time and attendance, onboarding, performance management, and life events.
Pokluda is also using UltiPro's end-to-end functionality to manage another 1,500 international employees through the core UltiPro solution so corporate leadership can efficiently track the company's global workforce.
“We're all about people, and we want Daymon Worldwide be a great place to work. With UltiPro, we have made remarkable strides by transforming the day-to-day functions of HR and payroll to achieve rapid results in the near future,” says Pokluda.
“UltiPro is a big part of our transformation and has been very well received across our business. Now we have truly unified HCM, and we have the tools to improve collaboration, make more informed business decisions, and support a culture of communication.”