HR Operations in a Dynamic Organization

Kelly Timpane

VP, Human Resources at Precision Medicine Group

Learning Objectives

Kelly Timpane, Precision Medicine Group’s Vice President Human Resources is responsible for global HR Administration including benefits, equity plan administration, HRIS, policy and compliance, HR administration, and acquisition due diligence and integration. She’ll talk through her role in streamlining and enhancing HR processes and systems to improve HR operational efficiency enterprise-wide, including: Managing legal compliance, immigration issues, and M&A due diligence and post-acquisition integration; Rolling out global expansion of benefits outside of the US and creating a new global "core benefits" offering; and Integrating HR Systems - from applicant tracking to benefits, streamlining communication between multiple systems.

Key Takeaways:

  • What does "HR Operations" entail as a standalone part of the HR function

  • Review some case studies and examples of prior HR Operations projects

  • Understand the basic trajectory of the HR Operations function

"I feel strongly about HR is we're not just a department that deals with resources who happened to be human, we should be the department that is a resource to the humans"

Kelly Timpane

VP, Human Resources at Precision Medicine Group


Hi, welcome. I’m Kelly Timpane, Vice President of Human Resources for Precision Medicine Group. My presentation is titled HR Operations in a Dynamic Organization. The point behind this is really just to give an overview of HR operations for those who might not be very familiar with what that part of HR does or what it means, and just give you a few case studies and different projects that I’ve worked with that are part of HR operations.

First, a little bit about me just so you can get to know me better. I have been married for 23 years. That means, I have great loyalty, staying power, and great negotiation skills. I’m raising two boys, one of whom is a teenager. So I also have great patience, self control, and pride in those I’m mentoring. I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Starbucks, supernatural, and superpowers. So I know how to have fun and how to think outside the box.

In terms of my HR background, I have 20 years of HR experience, mostly centering around benefits, compensation, HR systems, and compliance. Those areas that I would bucket as HR operations. I have my LinkedIn profile information here. If you want to connect with me, please feel free. Also, at the end of the presentation, you can feel free to leave comments below, and I will be happy to get back to you.

So, HR operations. I feel like this is a fairly new standalone area of HR. I really didn’t care a lot about HR operations before maybe five years ago. Typically, what I would consider HR operations is benefits and compensation. You might also hear that referred to as total rewards, HR systems, compliance, and policies. I think of HR operations like the Chief Operating Officer for all of HR. I also think of it as the techy, nerdy back office part of HR that keeps the wheels on the bus. So if you have good processes and systems and everything is running pretty smoothly, you probably have a good HR operations team.

A little more about me and my philosophy of HR customer service, customer service, customer service. I really truly believe that HR is a customer service department. Our customers are the employees, the managers. In my case in HR operations, my customers are also the other HR team members. I believe my job and my department’s job is to make the other HR business partners jobs easier, more efficient, and help provide that consistent employee experience both enterprise wide and globally.

One of the other things I feel strongly about HR is we’re not just a department that deals with resources who happened to be human, we should be the department that is a resource to the humans, Especially in trying times for employees or trying times for our community, for our company, we really need to be truly keeping the human in Human Resources, thinking about that employee experience, what are they going through, putting ourselves in their shoes. Again, I think my job in HR, specifically HR, operations is to help make the day to day life of the employee easier, more efficient, help them to get focused on their job. If I can give them good customer service, then they in turn, can turn around and give good customer service to our end customers and clients.

HR operations project. Some examples just to help you kind of understand what HR operations is. They’re just some ideas and examples, case studies of what I’ve done recently. We launched an onboarding module in ADP, took our background check vendor global, and enhanced some of our global benefit offerings, refreshed and revitalized our employee handbook, integrated some of our HR systems to reduce some of our duplicate entry that was happening, and also created an M&A playbook to ensure smooth integration for acquired companies.


I’ll tell you just a little bit more about each of these just to give a little context, what the issue was, what was the problem we were seeing, and then what was our solution. For any of these, if you’re interested in more information, feel free to reach out. For onboarding, the issue that we were experiencing is we have a number of different business units in the organization, and they were onboarding employees in different ways. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but some of the information provided, we needed to make sure was consistent. So some of our, let’s say, core corporate pieces, benefits, policies, some of that needs to be 100% the same at least throughout different countries. So in the US, they should all get the same information regardless of which business unit when it comes to benefits and policies, things like that.


One of the other issues we had is honestly sometimes the information that they got, because they were receiving it in different ways, might not always be accurate. So we did roll out an onboarding module in ADP, which is our HR system of record for all of our US hires. So regardless of what business unit they’re in, and they at least get some of the same common starting points. They know how to get their taxes and direct deposit set up. They have access to the policy manual right away. They get benefit information that is consistent no matter where they’re sitting. They’re getting the same information up front. In addition to that, they still have their welcome meeting and they’re onboarding with their HR business partner in the field, which then gets them plugged into their actual business unit where they’ll be operating.


For background checks, we actually have two different vendors previously for domestic versus international background checks. For our domestic, which was for us, North America, US, and Canada, we used one vendor. Then, as we started to grow globally, we added an additional vendor just for the international piece. The problem that we had with that was inconsistent experience for the employees. Also honestly, on the international side, we were starting to see some poor customer service. Frankly, it was just the vendor that we happen to be using had an outsource partner that was not great with the customer service. So we were getting some complaints, but also just not being able to go into the system and see things in the same way. Depending on which system you’re in, you’re used to looking up reports differently. So it just was a little bit bumpy.


So our solution, we rolled out a global background check through HireRight. There are other companies that provide that as well. HireRight happened to be the one that we went with. We do feel like we get great customer service with them. We have one point of contact now to reach out if there are questions or issues. Our employees from the moment that they have accepted an offer, they’re getting the same consistent employee experience. They’ll receive a welcome email information about how to log in to HireRight, provide their information. That type of information being checked may differ by country because there are different laws and regulations by each country, but the process and the way it’s served up to them is the same regardless of what country they’re sitting in.


Another global issue we’re having is our benefits. We do offer different benefits globally. Every country has some sort of benefit offering. It’s not to say that you need to offer the same benefits everywhere, but we wanted to at least have some common core benefits that we could stand up and say, all of our employees, no matter where they sit in the world, get at least these specific things.


One of the other issues we are seeing is because we weren’t looking at benefits sort of globally, it was each country. As we added new country, we went setup benefits with a different broker for that country so we weren’t really recognizing the economies of scale that we should see as a growing organization. So we did go and talk with a broker. We have now a global broker that is our point of contact for all of the countries outside of US, where we have another broker. It’s actually an extension of our US broker. So the parent company is the same, which gives us some consistency again. We’re now able to see some better pricing by combining some of these together. Also, we’re able to put out to the public and sort of market to candidates that no matter where they sit in the world, they are going to, at the very minimum, have some sort of pension plan, whether it’s a government regulated or private plan, like a 401k, they will have life insurance, and they will have an employee assistance program. Then, of course, each country, they also have additional benefits on top of that.


Our employee handbook. This was a long process, a long project. It probably took us close to a year to finally get through everything. Our handbook had probably not been updated in a couple of year so there were some things that were out of date, needed to be updated for compliance. The issue was the handbook itself was very long. It’s about 125 pages or more when we added in all of the state specific appendices at the end. So if there was ever something that we wanted to change, if it was something minor, often it became, “Well, we’ll change it later when we make the entire update to the handbook,” because you don’t want to update just one thing and then come back and update something else, something else. That led to some inaccurate data, some out of date items. The biggest item in my view was that this was really overkill for new hires to come in and be expected to read 125 pages of all the rules and regulations for the company is a bit much.


So we revamped it, kind of rethought how the handbook would work. Now, we have a 19 or 20 page handbook that lives online, that summarizes all of the policies, all the important things employees need to know. Then, it has links out to each individual policy as a more detailed policy. So if you’re interested in finding out more about family medical leave, for example, you can click the link, and then get the more detailed policy that includes the forms that are needed, etc.


This is also going to really help when we go and update policies. So those compliance regulations that change now and then instead of saying, “Okay, we’re gonna have to wait until the next rollout of the whole handbook,” we can just update that one policy. Then, it’s still going to the same place. We just replaced the policy, the detail part with the updated detail. So this really helped our employees. For new hires coming in, they don’t get that 125 pages, they get 20 pages, then they can click to read more for the ones that they really want more detail on. It’s really helped just have a single place that they know they can go having it online. We don’t have copies that have been printed off, saved as a pdf on one place, and maybe on SharePoint, another place. They know that the most accurate, up to date information is always in the handbook that’s stored on ADP.


Speaking of ADP, HRS integrations. This was a big project for us as well. We had two separate systems that really did not talk to each other, if you will, our HR system, ADP, and our applicant tracking system called Great People. The issue was, we have candidates entering information into Great People. They’re putting their name, their address, all that information. Once they’re hired, we had an HR Assistant who’s going in and actually re-entering all that same data in ADP manually. So of course, that’s duplicate entry, that’s taking up time, that’s additional time before they actually get a system and receive information. So it’s a delay to the employees. There also could be data errors, just natural human error if you’re entering data manually or even copying it from one system to another.


For us, it was very important to build an integration between those two systems and make them talk. So we worked with a third party vendor, got a file feed going daily in two instances. For one, we have it weekly, so it’s not something that changes as often. Now, that information is completely in sync between the two systems. It’s been really great because it’s really helped reduce the amount of time that new hires wait before they start getting information out of the HR system, and being able to access it, log in, and set up all their information. It’s also cut down on some data entry errors can be helpful.


We do have three files that go, as I said, we have a new hire data feed, and that’s in our applicant tracking, Once someone changes their status to hired, then they automatically will be picked up on that nice file that goes over to [inaudible]. So there’ll be in there, and ready for the HR person to sit and look, make sure they have all the information, fill in a few missing pieces that don’t come on the field, and finalize the record. So that process now really happens in just a day or two instead of before it would take maybe a few days or a week, depending on what the workload was for that HR person.


Also, employee data changes going the other direction. If an employee moves departments, has a change in their manager, changing their title, all of that information also feeds daily any changes from ADP to our applicant tracking system. The reason for that is we have an internal profile in that applicant tracking. So if someone were to apply for a job internally, their information would all be up to date and in sync with ADP.


The other one that we have, that’s really more of a weekly file feed or we can do it manually ad hoc as needed, is our job titles. If you’re like us, you’ve got job titles in two different systems, so you have an in your applicant tracking system, you need that in order to post the job, you need to know what to call it. But in ADP, our job codes have a lot of pieces, regulatory wise that are driven by that job code. So they’re on non exempt status, whether or not they’re a manager or not, they’re workers comp codes. All of that is sort of living in a job code table, so we need to make sure that those are really tied tightly together with the applicant tracking system, that when they give us a code and say someone was hired into it, it’s the correct code. So we do have a feed that goes at least weekly. So if we add any new job titles in ADP, change them for some reason, or disable any that we don’t need any longer, that information flows over to our applicant tracking systems so that we’re in sync together.


The last one is an M&A playbook. When I started with the company, we didn’t have really an existing defined process or playbook for the HR part of M&A. I took a lot of notes from my predecessor. She walked me through what she usually did, but there wasn’t like one template that I could go to and say, “Oh, okay, this is how you do it.” The issue with that really is as you are doing a lot of acquisitions—and we did a lot in my first year—it becomes easy to sort of lose track of where was I with this one, and did we get this information in or not. There really are a lot of steps to post acquisition integration for HR. I think it’s really important. Just like the new hire experience is important, it’s important to make sure that an acquired employee is also having a really good employee experience. This is the first they’re seeing of your company just like new hires.


So I created an M&A playbook. It’s really a massive spreadsheet, but it’s for use by HR. It covers all HR subject areas, including payroll setup. It’s tracked from due diligence through the completion of all post close integration activities. Usually, that could take around a year total, and that’s just because the focus upfront is the core pieces, how am I getting paid? When am I getting paid? What are my benefits? How does it compare to my prior benefits? All of those areas that employees want to know right up front. We add to that the different pieces of HR. Maybe a few months down, we start talking more about the corporate culture, our guiding principles, start working in performance, and rewards and recognition, things like that. It can take up to a year to get them on to all the different programs and offerings that we have, but we want to make sure that from day one of acquisition, we can start getting them into our systems, onto payroll, onto benefits, those really important things that you don’t want to miss your timeline.


One of the nice things that has come out of this as well is that it has inspired other functional areas to set up a similar type of tracking playbook for M&A in their areas as well. So finance, IT, some of those folks have also set up something similar, so that we can just track, and make sure with the number of acquisitions that we have going, that we’re not dropping the ball on any that we’re staying on target for our timelines, and really delivering an exceptional employee experience for those people.


Some of the upcoming projects. Again, just more examples of some of the things that are in that HR operations bucket. Rolling out basic employee self service for all employees globally. We use ADP as our system of record for the US. We also use it for headcount, tracking and reporting globally. It is not the quote unquote, system of record globally, because your system of record means something really important for global organizations, and there are pieces that are very tied to payroll that have to do with taxing, and things that you need to show that your system of record tracks things. Just to give an example, in Germany, you have to track religion. That’s not something that we want to include in ADP for just our headcount recording. We have that already through the payroll vendor that we use for Germany. Just to be clear, ADP is not our system of record, but it is our system of HR, and it is our system for human capital and human resources reporting, dashboards, headcounts, things like that.


Right now, we have Employee Self Service for the US, which is where most of our employees are based. We’re starting to develop at least a very core Employee Self Service Module for all of our employees. What we’d like them to be able to do is to access their information, their name, address, phone number, update that information, if needed, access and update emergency contacts. Then, also just give them sort of a landing page that they can go to to pull any HR related forms they might need benefits information, etc. So that’s one of the things we’ll be working on probably toward the end of this upcoming year.


Another thing is enhanced reporting. We’ve just added a an analytics and dashboard module to ADP. We’ll be rolling that out later in the year, and also, compensation module in ADP. Again, rolling that out later in the year. Our current process for compensation, and ssome of you may be in the same box, we have a spreadsheet, and we chunk it up into a bunch of different spreadsheets. We give it out to all the managers, and then they send it back. Some HR person has to sit there and compile it all back into one, and then we provide that to our HR manager in my department. She uploads it into ADP in the background. Very manual process, lots of sending things back and forth over email, which is not great. So the compensation module is going to allow us to do all of that actually in system in ADP, and set up whatever rules we want in there. It looks really great, and I’m really excited to work on that.


Our background check vendor, as I mentioned, we’ve gone global with the background check. The piece that we’re still missing is an integration from the applicant tracking system to the background check. Currently, the new hire will get an email, and they’ll have to actually go in and enter all their information in the future state. We want that information coming from the applicant tracking system and actually already being there in the background check for them to just look for and go, “Yep, this is all correct. Go ahead and submit.” We’ll just save a little bit of time.


A little bit about just the evolution of HR operations. I was thinking about this recently. As I said, I’ve been doing HR for about 20 years. So if you have been doing it as long as I have, you may remember those paper paths or pans, depending if you called them personal action forms or notices. I can remember when I first started out in HR, my hand would get so tired by the end of the day of signing all of these forms. If you had a salary review that was annual, that like everyone happened in the same day, you would have just stacks of these papers to review and sign off on. Then, you had to go hand those to someone in payroll, and then they would put that information in the system. We went from that to standalone HRS. If you are familiar with the name Abra, we actually had an Abra system. It was just a standalone Human Resources system. It had very basic data. It did not connect to anything. You had to be in the office at your computer. It was installed on one desktop—mine.


Now, we’ve moved to cloud based HR. So most of our systems are online. Some employers choose to have the server actually based in their building, some do it through cloud hosted. But typically, most employers now have the ability for your employees to go log on to a site somewhere and look at your pay stub, your HR information. Where I see this going in the future, I think we’re gonna see a lot more innovative technology for the HR space.


Some of the things that I’ve been hearing about that I’m really interested to learn more is predictive analytics. This is a little bit of the piece that we’re looking at with our analytics dashboard, hoping to get a little of this. I think there are also other companies that really really dig into this even more. What predictive analytics is it’s taking some of the data you already have, maybe what was someone’s performance review, what are some of the things they’ve mentioned that they want to do in the future, how are they feeling morale wise from some spot surveys that are done, and using that information to then identify proactively, who are my people that are risks, that are maybe good performers but their morale seems low, or there’s something that’s not matching up? These are people that you should really check in on more.


Augmented reality is another one I’ve seen a lot about. There’s a lot happening in the training space with augmented reality. So if you think of virtual reality and the headsets you can put on and look and see, “I’m in a roller coaster,” it’s similar to that but for training. So people can get trained on different systems using augmented reality. Goggles that will superimpose, images, and instructions over the actual reality that they’re seeing. It’s really cool stuff.


Then, blockchain. I won’t go into it. I could actually do a whole separate talk just on blockchain. Blockchain is just another type of technology that’s out there. I could honestly see HR going to blockchain 5, 10 years from now. I think it would be very interesting to see where that goes.


That’s really all I have for you today. Again, thank you for listening to me talk about myself and the projects that I do. I hope you have gotten some insight into what HR operations is all about, some of the different case studies and projects that I’ve worked on. I have my LinkedIn information there if you’d like to connect with me. Feel free to reach out if you have questions, comments, please leave them in the comment area below. I look forward to hearing from you, and to doing this again in the future. Thank you.

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