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BearingPoint, Oracle Take On HR Headaches

Day one on the job is typically the least productive of any new hire's tenure.

There's an avalanche of paperwork to fill out, benefits packages to peruse and, more and more, a never-ending series of online forms to complete. Desks and PCs, if you're lucky, have been assigned. Security badges are eventually dispersed. Maybe your e-mail account is live. Maybe it's not. You probably have a phone sitting on your desk but, chances are, you don't even know how to use it.

The next thing you know, it's closing time. And as you head to the parking lot with a telephone-book-sized packet of documents that you'll probably never read, you come to the realization that -- other than pinning down the location of the cafeteria and the nearest restroom -- you haven't accomplished a single thing during your first day on the job.

For the new hire, this sluggish on-boarding process can be frustrating and a bit alienating. But for large companies hiring thousands of new employees each year, it's an expensive tradition.

HR made easier?

In 2006, a study by the Society of Human Resource Professionals (SHRM) found that companies spend or lose an average of $4,745 for each new employee hired. These costs include time spent by recruiters and managers sourcing and screening candidates, time and costs spent training new hires and all the other minutiae required to get new employees up and running so they can actually do their jobs.

BearingPoint and Oracle in June launched an On-Boarding and Off-Boarding Diagnostic application to streamline this critical business process. The software incorporates business process management and human capital management applications through Oracle's Fusion middleware in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to bring clarity and structure to a process that impacts multiple business units within every enterprise.

"Most of our clients have a lot of disparate systems that play a role in the on-boarding process," Daniel Staley, managing director for BearingPoint's enterprise solutions group, said during an interview with InternetNews.com. "There's HR from PeopleSoft or HCM from another vendor or a home-grown application for provisioning equipment. There are so many different silos, and the biggest issue is integrating all these pieces into one location to manage the on-boarding and off-boarding process."

Staley and Robert Youngblood, managing director and head of BearingPoint's SOA strategy group, were busy evangelizing the virtues of BearingPoint's on-boarding software to attendees at Oracle's OpenWorld conference in San Francisco this week. The on-boarding application is based on Oracle's Fusion middleware and integrates with all of the existing applications used for payroll, IT, facilities management security and procurement.

It provides a portal for new hires and managers to access as they make their way through the on-boarding process. Each component can be configured based on the new hire's security clearance, which is an especially important feature for compliance issues, and provides a checklist for training and equipment procurement tailored for each new employee.

At each stage, the appropriate data is pulled from the different departments to the same dashboard, keeping both the new hire and the appropriate manager abreast of what is and what isn't happening in advance of the employee's start date.

The IT department is responsible for setting up an e-mail account and Virtual Private Network (VPN) client and password for a new hire, but HR is responsible for things like establishing a direct-deposit account or ensuring the employee has read and signed off on the personal conduct regulations. Managers usually approve corporate credit cards. And employee training and orientation courses might be HR's responsibility or it might be specific to an individual group within a department.

All these variables lead to confusion, inefficiency and a loss of billions of dollars each year. The Employment Policy Foundation in Washington, D.C., found the average cost of employee turnover was more than $13,300 per worker, or roughly 25 percent of the average cost of salary and benefits. In 2004 alone, that added up to more than $713 billion, or 6.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

For a company like Google, which hired more than 2,100 people last quarter, or General Motors, which is in the second year of a three-year restructuring program that will trim more than 30,000 workers from its payroll—finding an application to speed up the on- and off-boarding process and get employees off to a productive start is critical.

"It's about getting them productive from the very beginning and getting their assets together," Staley said. "You can't afford to bring someone on and not make a good impression. More than 90 percent of new hires decided within the first 60 days whether or not to stay with their new company long-term."

Paying for ease

But getting enterprise customers to buy in -- or pay up -- for this efficiency has thus far proven to be a bit of a hard sell for BearingPoint. While the company says it's in the initial stages of implementing some elements of its on-boarding software and services at a large communications company and another major online service provider, it still hasn't gotten a firm commitment from a single customer so far.

"The biggest challenge we've seen is finding someone within the company who has enough clout to take ownership of this kind of project and sponsor it," Staley said. "It touches so many different departments, but each one is reluctant to allocate the budget to support it."

Youngblood said most of the hardware and software components needed to support the on-boarding diagnostic application are already found in most enterprise datacenters. Getting started costs between $100,000 to $200,000, though prices vary greatly based on the size and scope of the organization's on-boarding process. And BearingPoint said customers will begin seeing immediate benefits within a few months.

There's not a company that doesn't want to talk about solving this problem," he said. "But they haven't budgeted the dollars to address it."



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