ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dealing with 120,000 associates and the high turnover rate in the supermarket industry, Publix Super Markets is turning to a Web-based human resources system that will give managers faster access to employee information.
The "manager self-service" system, from Newtown Square, Pa.-based SAP America, "will reduce costs and standardize [HR] processes," Terry Walden, business/IT manager for Publix, Lakeland, Fla., told an audience at SAP's Sapphire 2002 e-business conference in Orlando earlier this month.
Walden told SN that Publix began installing the system last year and that it will go live chainwide at a date "to be determined" while executives decide on standards managers will be expected to follow. The system replaces the chain's 30-year-old, homegrown legacy system.
In addition to the chain's 700 stores, its finance and manufacturing departments are also implementing the system, which will give store managers and administrative managers ready access to such information as employee job changes, transfers and pay rates, she said.
A new system was necessary because HR administrative tasks needed to be streamlined, data updates were not timely and there was no direct access to information about associates, Walden said. Communication between the HR department and various managers also needed to be improved so that managers could spend less time tracking down information on employees and more time with customers. "Managers have to make too many phone calls," Walden said.
One issue raised by the implementation is that some managers, as well as district managers, want to be more involved in HR functions than others, according to Walden. "You need to have one standard -- you can't overlook that. It has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks for us," Walden said.
Publix also needs to determine the HR information managers will be permitted to access. Personal employee information, such as individual employee benefits and payroll deductions, will not be on the system, for example.
In addition, executives are deciding how and when to add additional functions to the system, including purchase order approvals and financial reporting. "The technology is not the hard part; the business decisions are," Walden said.
Walden provided tips for firms implementing similar systems, including: establish executive support for implementation; ensure hardware accessibility and availability; accommodate training time for the high number of users, distributed over many areas; and define new roles for managers.