In the midst of a pandemic and a five year transformation of its HR Management Systems (HRMS), John Soule Foods decided to migrate two payroll systems to a single cloud-based platform. With the right help, said Sherry Allen, senior account manager for the company, such a massive change can be achieved – even if the company hires hundreds more people and opens new branches.
John Soule Foods offers ready-to-cook and fully cooked beef and chicken products through retail outlets, food service outlets, restaurants and school nutrition programs.
When Allen joined the company in 2016, 500 employees were enrolled in two payroll systems. The company used Sage Software’s Abra Suite payroll platform at its Tyler, Texas facility, but payroll got more complicated when it acquired ProView Foods, based in Gainesville, Georgia, in 2014, which was using ADP’s payroll system.
As the company expanded its operations (today it has 1,200 employees), the decision was made in 2016 to update its HRMS system and migrate to the Infor Global Human Resources (GHR) application suite, which is based on Amazon’s cloud-based platform Web services based.
John Soule Foods executives bet that a hosted cloud-based platform would break open their isolated systems to provide more insight into their HR operations and improve collaboration between business units.
Infor’s GHR has built-in applications for talent management, employee performance, and HR record management, including work order monitoring and behavioral profiling.
GHR applications also use analytics software to assess employee performance and assess future employee and company needs. In 2020, payroll features were added to support back-end payroll processes, such as:
“When we bought the GHR platform in 2016, Infor wasn’t ready to add the payroll module. We were on two different systems and were trying to migrate those systems with a more robust product that would help us as the companies grew,” said Allen.
To migrate the two systems to Infor’s GHR payroll module, Allen and the company’s HR managers had to make several important decisions. Initially, the company decided that its small IT team of five would not participate in the migration project, not only because they lacked the skills, but also because the company wanted to protect sensitive data.
“We felt we wanted to keep our payroll and HR information more secure. We didn’t want so many people to be involved and able to see this data within the company, ”said Allen.
She added that the company’s finance and HR teams wanted the expertise of a third party company that had the skills to set up the payroll system. Such an arrangement would allow the internal IT team to focus on the day-to-day IT operations of the company.
To do this, John Soule selected Foods from Bails and Associates, a Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based company that implements and updates Infor’s Human Capital Management (HCM) applications for customers.
For the payroll project, Bails helped clean up the system and upload it with employee details like bank account numbers, salary codes, deduction codes and W2 information.
Migrating data from legacy systems to the cloud always takes time, said Ron Hanscome, research vice president at Gartner, whose coverage areas include the HCM application market, including cloud HCM suites.
Providers such as Infor and their competitors who offer cloud-based HR management systems such as Workday, Oracle and SAP should be aware of these differences and be able to reconcile them.
In that case, says Hanscome, Abra’s old payroll system is likely to be a much bigger problem because it has different data structures than Infor’s cloud-based system.
“With different data structures, you have to normalize the data, understand where it should go and then normalize it into the new data model, and that always requires a few different test runs to identify errors and inconsistencies hopefully all major bugs fixed, “said Hanscome.
Allen found the job required more than the company’s small IT team could handle.
“Bails helped us get started,” she said. “Now they only help us if we cannot solve an IT problem ourselves. Also, we didn’t want Bails to have the cost of hiring new IT staff, use them and their specialization for things we need and then let us run the payroll system on a daily basis once the system went live. ”
The project started in October 2020 and lasted three months. The first checks were distributed in the first week of January 2021.
By eliminating the task of adding, reconciling, and maintaining data in two systems, the company is better prepared to add 500 employees to the payroll system when its new facility in Valley, Alabama, is built, Allen said.
Additionally, Allen estimates that the new payroll application would take a third of the time it would take to process payments to employees.
“Now that payroll processing is taking less time, payroll coordinators have more time to share important information with management and other stakeholders,” she said. “That’s one of the best things about the GHR payroll system.”
Nicole Lewis is a freelance journalist based in Miami.
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