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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Project Enable - Human Resources: Help Is on the Way

By members of Project ENABLE's Human Resources Public Relations/Communications Team

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 26 - March 30, 1995

Do you ever get tired of typing the same information simply because there is yet another form to fill out? There is help on the way. The technology surrounding the new Human Resources Information System (HRIS) is designed to speed and ease current business processes and eliminate some of the frustration of filling out numerous forms.

Take the classified-employee appointment process as an example. Substantial input from the university community is contributing to a significant streamlining of this process. A staffing process-improvement team with representation from the Controller's Office, the Provost's Office, a college office, Personnel Services, Information Systems, and Budget and Financial Planning recommended a number of simplifications in approval processes and personnel procedures early last year.

Some changes, such as eliminating Budget Office approvals on sponsored positions or eliminating the requirement that newly appointed instructional faculty members complete a state application for the personnel folder, were put in effect at that time. Others will be implemented beginning in January 1996, with the HRIS, as demonstrated in the following scenario.

Currently, the appointment of a classified employee starts when a form, the P3A, is typed, and a lot of information already keyed in elsewhere has to be re-typed.

When HRIS is fully operational, information about an open classified position and an applicant will already be in the system and can easily be displayed on the computer screen of your department workstation.

Keystrokes are reduced to specific information concerning a job appointment. Once the appointment is keyed in, anyone with appropriate authorization can call up a position, an employee, or a job appointment, and get all the related status information.

The scenario at the bottom of this page compares the current appointment process and the new HRIS supported process. Obviously, the new process is shorter. However, there are a number of other benefits; 10 are listed in the table below, along with a brief statement of how each is supported.

1. Reduce data keying Data entered electronically once is subsequently provided and displayed automatically by the system.
2. Improve data accuracy Data standards and edits enforced by the system
3. Reduce manual verification steps Status information on personnel actions available on-line
4. Reduce phone calls and manual tracking Flexible online query available
5. Allow managers to focus on managing processes and resources instead of controlling transactions Timely personnel and position reports available
6. Respond to management reporting needs Improved standard reports and flexible ad hoc reporting options available
7. Provide for single approval at the appropriate level Local decision-makers approve and other levels report and review actions
8. Reduce the maintenance of duplicate data in local offices Central data accessible and transportable to local systems and workstations
9. Reduce paper files Data entered directly into system and easily accessible
10. Improve customer service and increase employee productivity Faster, more accurate processing with less effort due to both process re-design and new system capability

The Employee Appointment Process--A Scenario

The English Department has interviewed applicants and selected the best candidate to fill an established vacant classified position. The department head has approved the hiring offer. The offer has been made and accepted by the selected candidate and the department head has authorized the appointment process. The table below shows the current steps required for the process and the steps in the redesigned process.) Note that the current process has nine required steps to get the appointment completely processed in Personnel Services, but usually involves the 12 steps outlined below. With the redesigned process, the appointment requires only four steps and it is reflected in the system immediately after the first step.

Current Process

1. REQUIRED: Support staff types appointment form (P3A), providing all employee information, position information, and funding account codes.

2. OPTIONAL: Department support staff enters appointment in departmental system (to meet local needs).

3. REQUIRED: Department head reviews and signs P3A.

4. REQUIRED: P3A copy and source documents filed in department.

5. REQUIRED: Department staff routes P3A original to college dean's office.

6. REQUIRED: P3A original received, time-stamped, copied and/or

reviewed by college support staff.

7. REQUIRED: P3A original reviewed and signed by college dean or designee.

8. OPTIONAL: P3A copy filed in college.

9. OPTIONAL: College support staff may enter appointment in college

system (to meet local needs).

10. REQUIRED: College support staff routes original P3A to Personnel Services.

11. REQUIRED: Personnel Services staff enters appointment into

personnel and payroll systems.

12. REQUIRED: Personnel Services staff establishes personnel file

with P3A original and identifies employee for orientation.

Redesigned Process

1. REQUIRED: Support staff enters appointment on HR system, drawing in applicant and position information already on system.

2. REQUIRED: Department head electronically reviews and approves appointment action. Appointment automatically enters the HR system.

* See note below.

3. REQUIRED: Source documents filed in department.

4. REQUIRED: Personnel/Payroll staff reviews electronic report of new appointments.

* Note: Many of the manual verifications, information gathering, forms retention, and tracking activities in the current process will be eliminated.

The HR system may be queried online (for example, by the college dean) to review the appointment or other personnel actions; and management reports on appointments or other personnel actions can be generated on demand. Data from the central HR system may also be exported to a local (department or college) system if desired. A system-generated report identifies new employees for orientation scheduling.

Future articles will highlight other process improvements, methods for measuring these improvements, and specifics about what will change in the department work environments.