Arts Center Hits a High Note With New HR System

Keeping track of employees and all their data can be a time-consuming, unwieldy affair, as many businesses know all too well. An effective HR software with a Web-based self-service portal can empower employees, simplify management and enable human resources personnel to pursue more value-add activities.

Interlochen Center for the Arts upgraded to such a system recently. The nonprofit institute, which was founded in 1928, draws thousands to northwest Michigan each year to enjoy educational and cultural experiences in music, theater, visual arts, dance and other creative arts. About 400 year-round employees and 1,000 seasonal staffers run its fine arts boarding high school, summer camp program, arts presentations and other activities.

The center’s Human Resources Department was spending most of its time managing data and processing paperwork to address the varied needs of the full- and part-time employees and hourly summer workers. “We had pieced together a bunch of apps to handle functions such as performance management, compensation planning and applicant tracking,” says Kim Zubrickas, executive director of HR.

Unfortunately, the apps didn’t share information with each other, so her staff of six had to pull data from multiple places, merge it and check it for accuracy—an inefficient and time-consuming process. Replacing that process with a single, unified system would streamline operations and enable HR to add real value to the organization.

The IT organization looked at a one-stop system in 2014 but found it too costly. “The existing system was clumsy but it worked, so we kept it,” Zubrickas recalls.

Implementing Human Capital Management

A year or so later, Interlochen found a more cost-effective option: cloud-based Human Capital Management from FinancialForce, an ERP vendor. Another plus is that HCM runs on the Salesforce platform the institute had already licensed for use in other areas of the organization.

Interlochen started implementing HCM in February 2015 and completed the process that fall. “We would have gone live in June but delayed it until we finished our summer camp,” Zubrickas explains. “I’ve implemented six different systems over the course of my career, and the experience with HCM was the best ever.”

Training videos and in-person sessions brought staffers up to speed on the new system, which they started using for time and attendance, among other things. “More than half of our staff has worked with Salesforce, and HCM has a similar look and feel, which reduced the learning curve,” Zubrickas says.

Coordination with the previous system “went as well as could be expected, although there were a few bumps and glitches,” Zubrickas says. HCM seamlessly connects to ADP Payroll, which allows the two systems to talk to each other. “We ran our first payroll with bated breath, but we got clean, correct employee data and accurate, on-time payments,” she reports.

Finding Information With the Self-Service Portal

Employees no longer rely on the HR department for paperwork and to handle administrative tasks. With HCM’s self-service portal, staffers can surface information and forms with a few clicks and can see personal data such as vacation and sick time and compensation.

“Employees can request time off, send it to a manager and get approval, all within the system,” Zubrickas says. “They can see what benefits they’re enrolled in, what other options they’re eligible for and can self-select benefits.”

Managers use dashboards for compensation planning, performance evaluations and more. “During our recruiting period, I can see in real time how many open positions there are, the number of applicants we’ve received, how long it’s taking to fill a position and how many applicants we’ve rated,” the HR director says.

In addition, the on-boarding process for new hires is much simpler. “New employees used to spend about six hours with us on paperwork and going over manuals, policies and procedures,” Zubrickas recalls. “Now, online pre-boarding with videos has cut orientation to two hours.”

HR still provides the “human touch” in welcoming employees, she adds. Plus, data is easier to manage because the applicant record becomes the interview record, which becomes the new hire record.

There are other benefits as well. Instead of mailing hard-copy contracts to faculty and lecturers, Interlochen uses an online system with electronic signatures. “That saves us about two weeks per contract,” Zubrickas says.

Reporting capabilities are also improved. “It used to take days to pull data together from different systems,” she says. “Now we can have data in a matter of minutes, and the reports are the most customizable I’ve seen.”

Such efficiencies have cut hours of work and labor costs in HR and have resulted in fewer errors and data inaccuracies, according to Zubrickas. “FinancialForce HCM is a cutting-edge system that hits home for what we need to do and enables HR to provide a much higher level of service,” she declares.

Looking ahead, Zubrickas sees potential in using HCM for employee recognition and for connecting and communicating with alumni students, employees and volunteers.


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