HY-VEE TO COMPLETE FIRST PHASE OF INTRANET

SAN ANTONIO -- Hy-Vee, West Des Moines, Iowa, is completing phase one of its intranet project this month, Ron Waldbillig, assistant vice president, management information systems, told SN during the Food Marketing Institute's IT Leadership Forum here.Initially, the intranet -- called Hy-VeeNet -- will handle electronic versions of the various forms employees need access to post job opportunities and

SAN ANTONIO -- Hy-Vee, West Des Moines, Iowa, is completing phase one of its intranet project this month, Ron Waldbillig, assistant vice president, management information systems, told SN during the Food Marketing Institute's IT Leadership Forum here.

Initially, the intranet -- called Hy-VeeNet -- will handle electronic versions of the various forms employees need access to post job opportunities and facilitate communications, he said. "No. 1, we are trying to get better communications between our company and our employees. We want to make it easier for everyone to access information. This is a modern method of communication that people understand," he said.

"But in addition to sharing information with employees, we are looking to decrease paperwork, and electronic forms are very important aspect of that effort. We want to virtually eliminate all of our internal paper forms," Waldbillig said.

Among the retailer's plans for the intranet in phase two and beyond are employee self-service for human resource records, training programs, store blueprints, category management and an electronic white board for immediate access to new ideas. "The more we get into it and think about it, the possibilities seem endless. The key is making sure that it is easy to use, that people can find things quickly and that you are providing the proper tools to employees that they will use to make their jobs easier and their work lives more enjoyable," he said.

To make the intranet accessible to store employees without computers, Hy-Vee will put kiosks in the break rooms of every store. "It is going to be a computer in a cabinet. Many of our employees, like department heads, have access to computers anyway, and all of this functionality will be available on every machine. But people who do not have access to a computer will be able to access it in the break room. Additionally, we have plans for them to be able to access the intranet from home if they have web access," Waldbillig said.

Work has begun on phase two of the intranet project, but no timeline is in place yet for that. "It's going to be an evolving type of project, so I don't think we are going to have a start or stop date. We are getting all of our department people involved to come up with ideas, and it is going to be one of those ongoing projects that is continually changing and with new things being added. We will find out what works well, and there might be some things that we put out there for which the interest won't be as great as we hoped," he said.

Hy-Vee is building the intranet in-house with some help from a consultant, he said. "We are developing our own model, with some of it based on the successes and failures of others with this type of technology," Waldbillig said.

One of the future components will be to enable employee self-service of various records. "We are looking to give employees the ability to maintain their own human resource records, to look at their benefits, their 401Ks, their trust funds, their medical benefits," he said. Security will be an important part of the system, he added.

Some training materials will be included in the next phase, with the possibility of integrating parts of the company's new Hy-Vee University in the longer-term future, he said. "We don't have it fully developed yet, but we definitely will have procedure manuals, policy manuals, and any other type of training that is in a manual today," Waldbillig said. "The goal is to make it accessible to the people that really need it.

"Our future vision is to continue to enhance the intranet and make it a great communications vehicle for our employees, while providing them with the tools that they need to do their jobs better and faster, as well as putting them in control of their own information."